When the US Supreme Court voted to strike down PASPA in 2018, it heralded a new era for sports fans. Most felt it was a victory for progressive attitudes, steering America away from its puritanical roots. There's certainly a degree of truth in that, and the majority of states hurried to push through legislation.
The fact is that less than four years on, in more than three quarters of states, sports betting has either been legalized in some form or legislation has been introduced that will make it happen.
Tying betting to sport
Advocates will argue that sports betting is good for the teams, good for the industry, good for the economy and good for sports fans. Those of a more cynical nature might argue the case over that final point. The beautiful thing about sport is that it is the great leveller. Fans are of all ages and backgrounds. Your colour, your sex or the amount of money you have in the bank make no difference to the passion for your team.
Betting companies are hurrying to forge alliances with sports franchises, teams and equipment suppliers. That's great, but in doing so, they are also reaching out by association to all these demographics. Nations that have been living alongside sports betting a lot longer than the USA have found that can lead to problems.
We all remember the days when racing cars were emblazoned with cigarette brands. That came to an end 30 years ago, and there was similar controversy when beer logos started to take their places. Kids idolize their sporting heroes, so you can see why some are uncomfortable with the concept of them appearing to promote smoking or drinking - or gambling.
Cross selling - the elegant solution
The take away from that Supreme Court decision in 2018 was that there's nothing wrong with mature adults placing a wager for fun. Yes, there are people who have problems related to gambling, just as there are people who have problems related to drinking or to driving too fast. These are a tiny minority and do not warrant a blanket ban.
That's sound logic, and so is the idea that those who bet on sport responsibly will be interested in doing the same with casino gaming. Cross selling is becoming commonplace. Indeed, one PA sportsbook recently launched a Pittsburgh Steelers themed live blackjack game. It's a little slice of marketing genius and others are certain to follow suit.
The sports betting scene is still in its relative infancy in the USA. Questions can and should be asked about how betting companies market their services responsibly. It's a process that many who are established international operators have already been through in the UK.
Avoiding anything that could be construed as being aimed at minors is an obvious first step. But just as important is not to gloss over or disregard those minorities we mentioned earlier. By acknowledging that gambling can be a problem and taking proactive steps to provide controls and support, gambling companies and the sports businesses with whom they associate can take a leading part in the regulatory discussion. That has to be better and more effective than being forced to simply follow it.