As I’ve spent the past few months listening to the open meetings preparing for the launch of sports betting, it’s easy to be a fly on the wall and nitpick each decision being made. We don’t have perfect information and there has yet to be a perfect regulated gambling market (trust me…or do some googling), so each and every decision made can be met with a “yeah, but will that even work?” response…followed by your favorite taunting expression.
While this questioning of each and every decision is impossible to refute, it’s also not very helpful.
“Alright! So what would your plan be Einstein?” would be a well-earned and warranted response.
And I think this is a great thought experiment.
What would your plan be? I’ve been thinking bout this quite a bit recently. It’s given me a healthy appreciation for the work being done by each state.
Here is the first draft of mine, though revisions are sure to follow.
Gambling Expansion in Jamietopia
Come with me on a hypothetical journey to the land of Jamietopia, where I have the blessing and curse of being the one responsible for bringing gambling (err…gaming) into a regulated space. The murmuring from the great citizens of Jamietopia has grown too loud to ignore and I’ve decided to let them gamble—I mean entertain themselves—until their little hearts are content.
To the Citizens
First, I would need to address my citizens informing them of this change of policy. They deserve to know why I feel it necessary to make this change from one in which they must hide their gambling to one where we will make it legal. Early and clear communication will be immensely valuable as we move through the process, so I’d start off with these key points.
I’d begin by highlighting that this change is unavoidable. Our society has evolved in many ways and we have new tools at our disposal. One of these great advancements is the Internet. It’s here to stay and can benefit us in many ways, but it also unlocks access to things that were previously easier to keep under wraps. This is precisely the case with gambling. The genie is out of the bottle. And he’s here to stay. It’s unavoidable, so the sooner we learn to adjust and adapt the better. We need to abandon our efforts to jam him back into the bottle and focus those efforts on living with him as a new and productive member of our society.
Next, I’d let the great citizens know that I’m going to make our market as appealing as possible to attract a wide range of gambling operators. Why? Well, I want it to be such an obvious choice that they should join our market that anyone not doing so can be clearly identified as untrustworthy. If they don’t see our market as attractive, then they clearly don’t have your best interests in mind and you should think twice before depositing. This messaging will be the backbone of campaigns to highlight the difference between our legal market and any remaining holdouts.
Moving along, I’d highlight the critical role each and every citizen will play in contributing to a healthy and productive new industry. I’ll encourage them to take in the different offers being presented and to vote with their wallets. Additionally, we’ll need them to be the eyes and ears on the ground, monitoring our operators to ensure they are living up to the contract they have created and signed off on (more on that later).
Finally, I’ll let them know that they have two years to prepare for our launch. I’ll encourage them to begin talking with their families, friend circles, and local communities to develop plans for the pending launch. This launch will undoubtedly present challenges, but with proper strategic planning, we can mitigate issues.
Our Internal Systems
While we will be heavily reliant on our citizens’ assistance, they will not be doing this alone. Jamietopia will collect initial licensing fees upfront and will immediately invest those into creating robust education, prevention, and treatment programs. We will also create key performance indicators (KPIs) to track and will have adequate data collection for our researchers to evaluate.
One key design feature to ensure we are constantly innovating and improving will be our dedicated funding for new ideas and ventures. Each year, we will accept submissions from individuals, groups, or corporations. Open to all, the innovation fund will serve to infuse capital into the ideas and programs which show promise.
To the Industry
Jamietopia will be welcome to all industry participants from current white market providers to those operating in grey or black markets.
Each participant will submit their operating plan. These operating plans can be simple or detailed in nature, but they will act as the commitment of each operator to the citizens of Jamietopia. Think of it as a “choose your own adventure” way of writing the regulations on which you will be evaluated. You’ll set your rules, then you will be expected to follow strictly follow them.
After submitting your first draft, we’ll review your proposal and will assign a licensing fee and tax rate which is deemed as appropriate given the expected risk you present to the citizens of Jamietopia. The more substantial your policies are for preventing harm, the lower your tax rate will be as we will need to spend fewer tax dollars treating those customers who experience harm. After receiving your licensing fee and tax rate, you can either revise your plan in an attempt to gain better rates or accept it. Negotiations will continue until a balance is struck in which Jamietopia is most likely to see the economic benefit of your participation once we back out expenses for the inevitable harm.
However, when designing your rules, you are better off underselling your promises and overdelivering than overselling and underdelivering. If you step outside of your stated objection, the fines will be crushing in nature. So figure out what you can live with, then be sure to stay within those boundaries.
This approach allows you to be the determinant of your advertising efforts, VIP programs, harm mitigation efforts, and a host of other aspects.
You make your rules. We will simply enforce them.
Finally, we want you to compete. We want you to help us create the best market in the world and we believe this can be achieved by presenting different offers to our citizens. We don’t want you to all be the same. I’d want as much differentiation as possible in the early days. Over time, we can sort out what is working best and there will likely be a natural progression toward similarities. The goal is to have the open market drive these.
More to Come
Obviously, this is just beginning to scratch the surface. There will be much more to consider for Jamietopia + gambling in the future. I’ll continue to come back to add new stuff, update/fix current items, and overall explore all of the ways I might best bring gambling to the great citizens of my land.