Rasmus Sojmark is the CEO and founder of SBC (Sports Betting Community), organizer of Betting on Sports America (BOSA) trade show taking place in New Jersey 23-25 April.
It’s one of the first opportunities that many in the gaming industry and beyond will have to get together and take stock of US sports betting as it’s expanded in the past year. It will also feature some big names from the industry and the world of sports.
He sat down with PlayUSA for a Q&A ahead of the event:
Setting the stage for a sports betting conference
PlayUSA: When did you guys know that you wanted to do a US-facing sports betting conference? As soon as PASPA fell?
Rasmus: We were originally planning to run a sports betting conference in Vegas in 2017 in partnership with a few of our good contacts in the US, but with the announcement of the Sports Betting USA event in November 2017 we decided that the market didn’t need another at that stage, so we focused on growing and scaling our European events, Betting on Football and Betting on Sports.
In January 2018 we launched our news portal SBC Americas (www.sbcamericas.com) which enabled SBC to strengthen its established B2B news service’s footprint in the US, but also cover Latin America. This turned out to be great timing as PASPA was repealed five months later in May, and a few weeks after the repeal we announced the launch of the Betting on Sports America conference for the US which would be taking place 23-25 April in New York the following year.
I am saying New York here, as we were initially planning to have the conference at Metlife Stadium, home of the New York Giants and New York Jets, which ironically is in New Jersey. But it seems that football politics around sports betting scuppered our initial plans.
We immediately touched base with all our existing supporters and the US connections we had, and told them that we would go with a bigger venue and not just a conference, but also a larger exhibition which then became the trade show in its current format at the Meadowlands Exposition Center. The largest dedicated sports betting trade show in the US was born.
I am happy to admit that we were overwhelmed by the size of the 61,000 ft Meadowlands Exposition Center venue, but we also knew that we had the sports betting industry experience and contacts to create a great event. Since then our decision to go big has been further reinforced by some of the amazing feedback we have received from our international sports betting trade shows that we run out of London.
- For instance, CEO of DraftKings Jason Robins said in an interview us that Betting on Sports was fantastic, and that the event just kept getting better and better every year.
- He was further complemented by the Managing Director of F1 Sean Bratches that branded our Betting on Sports event as ground zero for what was going on in the world of sports betting.
- Finally David Miller, VP & Assistant General Counsel at PGA Tour congratulated us on Betting on Sports being a very productive conference for them as they were educating themselves and evaluating the gaming industry.
Long story short, BOSA has already attracted over 1,500 senior executives and is growing by the day, and it certainly promises to be a great event for everyone in attendance. It has become a must attend event for all sports betting and gaming industry stakeholders if you ask me.
What sets Betting on Sports America apart?
PlayUSA: There are an increasing number of gaming conferences (and ones that focus on sports betting). What do you think sets this one apart?
Rasmus: Well, a long-standing industry friend of mine Ian Williams (President of Online Gaming at Churchill Downs) was recently quoted for saying that a well-renowned SBC event like Betting on Sports in London with a strong community around the sports betting industry would be very welcome in North America with a view of further developing the industry here.
It is in this context and many others where I like to think that SBC is certainly the company that would know how to create a successful sports betting industry event in the US. We have been synonymous with sports betting over the past ten years, and we now run the three biggest global sports betting events — Betting on Sports, Betting on Football and Betting on Sports America, and we also operate a news and media network for the betting and gaming industry that publishes no fewer than 60 industry news stories a day!
Chris Grove of Eilers and Krejcik Gaming posted on Linkedin the other week that the BOSA conference program promised the most comprehensive regulated sports betting education of any event that he had seen so far.
Large trade shows and conferences tend to offer around 100 key speakers on various panels, but at SBC we have always managed to gather close to 200 speakers across a number of great panels to have something for all the key stakeholders attending.
At BOSA we are presenting just short of 200 industry expert speakers from the worlds of sports betting, sports, media, casinos, tribes, regulators and lotteries, and attendees will have access to six full-day conference tracks, 40 sessions and a number of specialized masterclasses. I encourage everyone interested in the US sports betting market to take a look at the conference agenda and also the events happening as part of the main trade show, and it should be evident how qualitative and high level this event is going to be.
Besides a great conference and speaker line-up, we have received incredible support from our sponsors which has enabled us to keep the registration cost at a low $699. I am highlighting this as not only do attendees get access to the conference, but compared to similar events we also offer full hospitality with breakfast, lunch, refreshments, shuttle service to evening events, three top evening networking venues in both New Jersey and New York with complimentary dinner receptions and drinks for all attendees.
To us the attendee experience is very important, whether that’s hospitality, networking facilities or the number of opportunities to conduct business at the event. When you feel appreciated as an attendee, you are more likely to enjoy the event and make more of it. I am convinced that all attendees will feel they get full value for money, and more, once the event is over.
What to watch for at Betting on Sports?
PlayUSA: What are you most looking forward to (other than my panel) at the conference?
Rasmus: You said it, the panel with legendary Dustin Gouker is not to be missed, haha.
The speakers confirmed are the very best industry representatives, including keynotes from:
- New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy
- NFL Hall of Famer Morten Andersen
- NFL running back Brian Westbrook
- MLB World Series Champion Ryan Howard.
We have some unique content that has been developed by Eilers & Krejcik about the US sports betting customer which will be extremely enlightening. But we have so much content — 45 sessions across the two days as well as two masterclasses — it’s pretty hard to narrow it down to a few highlights. It’s all brilliant!
As mentioned, the show is taking place at the 61,000-foot large Meadowlands Exposition Center in New Jersey with 60 exhibitors. There will certainly be some interesting products and innovation on display which I am very much looking forward to experiencing first-hand.
I have always been a big fan of the evening networking events, as a lot of business is starting here. We are often very busy during the day with the conference sessions and the expo that we don’t get to meet everyone we like to meet. We have no fewer than three VIP evening networking events with complimentary dinner and drinks receptions at Jay Z’s 40/40 club (Manhattan), Meadowlands Racetrack rooftop bar (New Jersey), and Sky Room rooftop bar (Times Square Manhattan). I am really looking forward to these as the venues have been handpicked as some of the very best out there.
On momentum for US sports betting
PlayUSA: The momentum on sports betting legislation has been a little slow to start 2019; some probably thought (me included) there would be at least a few new laws to examine at the conference. Is the pace surprising to you?
Rasmus: Gambling in general and sports betting in particular is a politically contentious issue no matter where you are in the world. The mix of betting stakeholders and sporting stakeholders, = not to mention states that already have gaming and lottery interests, means that it can be very tough to gain positive movement on any liberalization of gambling. If anything it is impressive how many states have managed to get up and running in such a short time period.
Part of the challenge is educating lawmakers why they should be introducing new sports betting laws into their states. It’s one of the main reasons we have a session detailing just that at Betting on Sports America. It’s to give advocates the ammunition they need to drive change in their states.
I am very much looking forward to seeing everyone at the event, and if any questions about the event you can get in touch with myself and the events team via [email protected].