Magic Johnson Addresses G2E on SportsBetting: ‘The Narrative is Changing’
Posted on: October 6, 2017, 02:00h.
Last updated on: October 9, 2017, 11:23h.
Basketball legend and Los Angeles Lakers co-owner “Magic” Johnson stopped just short of directly endorsing legalized sports betting during his keynote address on the final day of the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas, but he acknowledged that the “landscape has changed” and that this was a good thing.
Johnson addressed the assembled gaming industry representatives on the subject of his transition from sports athlete to business executive, and stuck around afterwards for a public discussion with American Gaming Association CEO Geoff Freeman on the future of sports betting in the US.
The NBA Hall of Famer praised the emergence of Las Vegas’s two new sports franchises, the Raiders and the Golden Knights, something that could not have happened when he was a player, he said.
“All These Regulations Will Change”
“Remember all of the sports leagues were saying we’re staying away from Las Vegas and no way,” Johnson said. “The whole thing of betting and this and that, and they wanted us to stay away from all of that. Now you have two teams coming to this great city, and the fans want it.
“It’s great for the NFL and it’s great for the NHL and great for the fans,” he added. “The narrative is changing. The landscape is changing. A lot of things are changing around Las Vegas … sports and the major leagues. I think you are going to see it moving towards something really good for all of us. All these regulations will change.”
Johnson also praised the emergence of commercial relationships between sports teams and casinos, such as the Lakers’ with MGM, a development that was “great for everybody,” he said.
“It has changed a lot,” he added. “Before it was, ‘Nope, you can’t do it. It’s bad for the image and bad for everybody.’ Now, you’re seeing sports teams having relationships with casinos and vice versa. It’s a way for everybody to win.”
NBA commissioner Adam Silver has professed himself to be open to the idea of legal, regulated sports betting in the US and Freeman noted that the AGA was working closely with Silver as it campaigns for a change in the law.
Other highlights from the final day of the world’s biggest gaming expo included a panel session on skill-gaming, as well as a session entitled “Esports: The Five Biggest Challenges in Monetizing Esports in a Casino Resort.”
Everyone knows that esports will play a big future in the casino industry but the question is, how do you actually make money from it?
Speaker Blaine Graboyes, of GameCo, suggested the answer lies in specialization. Different esports game communities have different preferences and spending habits, which means casinos should specialize in specific esports that best fits their overall demographic, he said.