Delivering his keynote speech at this week’s G2E Las Vegas conference, US sports broadcaster Scott Van Pelt (SportsCenter – ESPN), emphasised that US gambling and pro-sports stakeholders must work together to avoid the marketing controversies that have engulfed the UK market.

In front of a full conference hall at the Sands Expo Convention Center, Van Pelt’s speech opened day-2 of G2E, with the ESPN figurehead offering his insight on a host of subjects from the feasibility of a pro-league integrity fee, to how sports betting can increase engagement amongst millennial audiences.

Highlighting what US gambling should learn from the marketing methods that have been undertaken by DFS and UK gambling operators, he recalled: “In 2015, I was on the show called ‘1 Big Thing’, it was around the third or fourth week of the year and I did a segment about those ads, every ad in every commercial break of an NFL game was some dude (DFS player) holding a cheque for $2 million .  

“People rolled their eyes at me and got mad, questioning how you could do this to people that are advertising on your network, to which I said, if you’re going to make the distinction that it’s daily and you’re paying on the outcome of sporting events then it’s betting, that was my opinion and others shared that opinion.

“I made the analogy that the pigs get fed and the hogs get slaughtered and everybody was a hog, even we were, you’re lining up at our door waiting to spend millions of dollars, ‘come on down’ and we ran those ads and everybody that’s in the world of sports broadcasting took their money and ran the ads.”

“That was an example of everybody, including the leagues because that was a fun little dance they did, they were partners there, because they saw this big pile of money, everyone saw this pile of money but they dove headfirst into it like Scrooge Mcduck and then everyone looked around and questioned why they pulled the plug on this, it’s because everyone acted like crazy people. So it’s important that common sense is applied here.”

Outlining his gut feelings that the US market will evolve differently to the UK, he emphasised that advertising “shouldn’t be about beating people over the head”.

When questioned on what type of role sports betting could play in helping the leagues with engaging with millennial audiences, Van Pelt underlined the importance of maximising mobile betting, however, was keen to point out his concern over whether younger audiences would be at the game, but just be on their phone betting the whole time and not truly engaged in the sport.

The SportsCenter host concluded by scrutinising the legitimacy of the touted integrity fee, stating: “What, are you going to make me pay for the air I breathe next? I have eyes. I can see what’s happening in the game. Now you want 1%? Good luck with that, I’m lost on that one.”

A sentiment that drew applause from those in the audience who have investment in sports betting. However, reality still points towards US pro-leagues taking their share of the liberalised US betting market as incumbents should remember ‘pigs get fed and the hogs get slaughtered’.