Recent events within the online sports industry in the US have pointed towards a growing and virile industry with a mix of both local and international operators.
The local brands have by far the most well-known brands within the industry, but with the recent influx of foreign sportsbooks, the dynamics of the online sports betting industry in America are changing.
While the industry itself only properly took off in the aftermath of the Supreme Court ruling against the long-standing Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA Act) which prohibited sports betting across the United States.
With the annulment of PASPA, many states became empowered by the new ruling and the change in tide resulted in states opening up for online sports betting within their respective boundaries.
Today, there are over 30 states that have now fully legalized sports betting, and more are working tirelessly to join the fray. For example, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Vermont are closer to legalizing online sports betting than ever before.
But before the landmark ruling, a few of the present-day operators have been doing exceptionally well for so many years within other verticals.
FanDuel and DraftKings were at the forefront of Daily Fantasy, long before PASPA was struck out, and that gave them an edge in transitioning to a full-fledged sports betting platform.
Others like BetMGM and Caesars were not far behind and together with FanDuel and DraftKings, they have constituted a quartet of the biggest players within the sports betting industry in America.
Despite the overwhelming dominance of the local sportsbooks, operators from other continents, mainly Europe and Australia have been making their way into the American market.
However, evidence on the ground suggests that it is pretty hard if not outright impossible for foreign betting sites to begin in many states simultaneously at launch. The usual order has been to launch in one or two states and gradually expand to other states.
This is not surprising as there are different regulations governing online betting licensing and regulations in different states.
From licensing to taxes and stringent regulations on advertising. All of these vary from one state to another and they have to be factored into any expansion plans.
A prime example of the seemingly exorbitant licensing fees could be found in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania where fees have been set at $5 million and $10 million respectively.
New York along with Rhodes Island are ahead of the pile with 51% in sports betting taxes.
Invariably expansion comes at a very steep cost. And in a market where getting a large chunk of the market is hard enough for international betting sites, the foreign operators may take time to explore the possibilities of expanding.
There are several examples of this trend. Even the biggest online betting brands from Europe to Australia have been circumspect in widening their presence in the United States.
British Sports betting giants Bet365 launched in New Jersey in 2018, but it will take them another four years to expand to a second state, Colorado in 2022. Launches in Ohio, Virginia, and most recently in Iowa followed in 2023.
Generally, Bet365 has been cautious with its expansion plans within the US, as there are several factors like investments vis a vis the bottom line to consider before mapping out ambitious expansion plans.
Aside from Bet365, there are other UK operators within the US market. More than Bet365, Betfred has been more audacious with their expansion plans, as they are currently offering online betting services in 10 different American states, however, their impact has been minimal in upsetting the established order.
Unibet is also present in five states namely: Arizona, New Jersey, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
However, despite their effort to widen their reach, the reality suggests that they are just making up the numbers and are nowhere near disrupting the established order as things stand.
The situation is even more gloomy for betting companies from Australia. PointsBet and Clutchbet have been flying the Australian flag in the US for some time, but the situation for both operators is far from rosy.
Only recently, Australian brand, PointsBet has been in negotiations with competitors to sell their US operations.
The decision may be unconnected with the stiff competition that is rife in the U.S. market which makes it really difficult for foreign entrants to break even.
PointsBet has been in business in the United States since 2018, and they are in as many as 14 states, but the success recorded so far is way short of what had been envisaged years ago.
Therefore, it is not surprising that the Australian brand is willing to cut its losses and focus on a market with a better potential for profit.
Another Australian brand, Clutchbet launched as recently as 2022, with Iowa as the first port of call, followed by Colorado. The sportsbook also has market access agreements in Louisiana and Indiana.
Despite the innovative features especially in the area of customer bonuses the likes of Bet365, Unibet, and ClutchBet have introduced, they are still lagging behind in terms of the share of the market.
For example, Bet365 has an eye-popping Bet $1, Get $200 sign up offer for new players on their platform.
On its own part, Clutchbet has one of the most rewarding and sustainable bonus offers. Clutchbet bonus is one of the best new customer betting sign-up bonuses. The bonus is spread over five weeks, with no less than $200 up for grabs in each of those weeks making a total of $1000 for new players.
However, it takes more than attractive bonus offers to win over and keep new players.
Today, the established order looks impregnable, and it will take a lot from the rest of the field to catch up with the big four.
From marketing, deep pockets, and strategic planning, international betting brands have to be on top of their game to threaten the big American brands or to get a shot at breaking their dominance.
If foreign sportsbooks are to make headway in the ultra-competitive U.S. market, they have got to match the domestic competitors for financial might, advertising, exposure, and more. Only then can they truly mount a sustained effort to get a piece of the pie in the American market.