The Big Bet: A/V Industry Sees Potential Boom in Sports Betting

Like sports venues, sportsbook construction will likely incorporate big sound and video

Sound and video may not have immediately sprung to mind in May when the Supreme Court cleared the way for states to legalize sports betting, but they are going to play a big part in what is expected to be a boom in sportsbook construction. Striking down a 1992 federal law that had prohibited most states from authorizing sports betting, the 6-3 ruling opens the door to a new arms race for high-tech sportsbooks emulating sports venues’ two-decade-long period of A/V-based makeovers.

“I assume we will see more RFPs for this — and integrate more as time goes on,” says Stuart Reynolds, director, Broadcast Systems Group, for systems integrator Diversified.

“Striking down the 26-year-old federal ban on sports betting has been a long and highly anticipated road for many in the sports industry,” observes Jay Gonzalez, president, Americas, for Analog Way, whose signal-processing and routing equipment is used extensively in both sportsbooks and sports venues. “We’re already experiencing the impact of this historical ruling: we are currently working with several partners on various sportsbook projects outside of traditional gaming cities. In particular, we are witnessing a very rapid response in New Jersey, [where] former Governor Chris Christie’s administration spearheaded this effort.”

Moving Fast
States and leagues are wasting no time in clearing the way for sportsbook construction and updating. Mississippi’s 28 casino sportsbooks opened their betting windows to the public, with football veterans Willis McGahee and Robert Royal among the celebrities placing ceremonial first bets at the Beau Rivage in Biloxi. In a related move, Caesars announced a new deal with Scientific Games to supply sports betting for New Jersey and Mississippi casinos. Caesars opened its first two sportsbooks in Atlantic City in July and has disclosed plans to merge its online sports betting and casino platforms into one. And at the end of July, MGM Resorts International and the NBA announced a multi-year partnership naming MGM Resorts the official gaming partner of the NBA and WNBA. The alliance marks the first time a major pro-sports league has partnered with a sportsbook operator.

Sportsbooks like this one in Las Vegas may feature highly immersive LED screens.

That’s a sea change from professional sports’ historical stance. “Leagues have typically kept their distance from gambling, with the MLB taking an especially tough stance, saying its rightsholders who accept advertising from sports-betting companies would violate MLB policy,” Insider Radio notes, noting that it could be a windfall for sports broadcasters as well.

There could also be a convergence with online sports, as videogaming continues its rapid ascent in the pro-sports universe. For instance, current Mississippi law restricts gambling and sports betting to physical establishments, but the state has okayed limited mobile wagering in the future — though, at the moment, only onsite at a casino.

A/V’s Big Payoff
The professional-A/V industry, which has been at the core of the renaissance of sports venues, sees a correlation between bigger video and audio in stadiums and arenas and what’s to come in sportsbooks.

“This seems the most logical path going forward,” says Gonzalez. “The advent of narrow-pixel-pitch (NPP) direct-view LED screens is revolutionizing the industry by creating a more immersive medium. A well-designed sportsbook video wall based on NPP LED technology, when coupled with high-quality video content, can give the audience a sense of being in the middle of the action. We recently finalized a project for the Wynn casino comprising a spectacular 137-ft.-wide, 21-megapixel NPP LED video wall for a major racebook and sportsbook. Participation on this project allowed us to witness firsthand the reaction of the audience to a well-designed sportsbook screen. According to the Wynn, the results far exceeded objective expectations and ROI projections.”

Initial momentum, however, seems to be focused on states that already permit casino gambling, particularly Nevada, New Jersey and Mississippi. Craig Janssen, managing director for A/V-consulting firm Idibri, agrees that sportsbooks will now become a new focus for sportsbooks. “But no one knows how much, or how soon,” he cautions. “Part of this is complicated by the fact that only a few states have passed or are in the process of passing betting laws so far, and it’s not clear how long it will take before the majority of the country makes the shift.”

But, like many Supreme Court decisions, this one will have far-reaching implications, one of which is that sportsbooks may become the next frontier for the already-deep connection between sports and A/V technology.

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