Expansion of legalized sports betting – implications for insurance marketers in 2020

The NFL playoffs and Super Bowl bring a host of fun activities – good spirited competition between rival fans; office pools; team pride; jostling among family and friends; and some damn good food (buffalo wings for me, please, with blue cheese – I don’t recognize ranch dressing). Beyond that, the Super Bowl also generates massive sports betting activity, with an estimated $6 billion attached to the big game. Not too shabby.

The relaxation of regulatory standards in sports gambling produce different risks for insurance companies to consider. This can potentially mean more business and unleashing new revenue streams for sports betting companies and insurance providers. Yet, from a reputational and cultural perspective, opinions about whether the legalization of the sports betting industry is a constructive development very much depends on the person. While insurance brands must be mindful of cultural sensitivities, it is also incumbent upon them to provide credible, insightful information about the practical realities and considerations of underwriting such policies for legitimate and growing businesses. Let’s dig in.

A Whole New Set of Risks (and Opportunities)

In May, when the United States Supreme Court struck down a federal ban on legal sports betting, several states began establishing sports gambling businesses. The thinking here is that legalizing sports betting would eventually pave the way for increased tourism and a broader base of tax revenue from which to fund vital services. Several states have already legalized sports betting, while others have pending legislation, poised to join the ranks of their counterparts across the country.

While this can be an exciting time for individuals and businesses looking to get into the world of sports betting, several questions come to mind from an insurance perspective.

  1. For the hospitality industry that looks to establish a casino within its walls, what are the primary risk considerations that need to be addressed? Does your P&C policy account for this? What other risk areas should others be thinking about?
  2. Is there sufficient liability coverage in place to deal with an influx of new guests coming to a hotel or other property?
  3. With sports betting activity conducted primarily online, do you have ample cyber liability coverage in place to protect against cyber-attacks?

Arguably, of all the different “players” involved in the sports betting ecosystem, insurance companies have the greatest insight and perspective into the potential risks and rewards (and how to balance the two). That is invaluable for either the start-up looking to move fast and break things or the legacy incumbent that is hoping to pivot/transform to take advantage of the regulatory changes in sports gambling. So, insurance companies have a unique opportunity to lend their expertise and insights to this emerging category, which in turn can help build brand reputation and awareness among current and prospective customers.

For PR and marketing professionals navigating these waters, it’s always helpful to position subject matter experts as helpful resources to media seeking insights on the implications of sports betting from an insurance perspective. Perhaps a fun, interactive video addressing some of these primary questions is the way to go? This content can be posted on a company’s website, broken up into individual tips and distributed via social media channels, among others.

Another option is to commission  research that surveys a variety of sports betting businesses, ranging from large casinos to mobile app providers. Soliciting responses on P&C and liability exposure implications can arm insurance carriers and brokers with the insights necessary to craft compelling and impactful content that can be used in organic and paid social media campaigns, podcasts, media relations, interactive videos and infographics. Further, sports betting companies that want access to the research report or long-form white papers can provide email addresses or other forms of contact information, which can help to drive qualified lead generation.

Sports betting will continue to shape a significant part of the insurance debate in 2020. Insurance brands that cut through the clutter and deliver clear, consistent and pragmatic messages that address current and emerging risks associated with the sports betting industry will be positioned strongly for long-term success.