- Game On sports betting gift cards are now available in Colorado and Indiana.
- The cards can be used to fund betting account with participating sports books.
- Game On cards debuted in New Jersey and Pennsylvania in 2020.
The nascent US sports betting industry is–for now at least–a mixed bag for players. Prior to the Supreme Court striking down PASPA only one state–Nevada–had a sports betting ecosystem worth mentioning. The rest of the country was essentially ‘second class citizens’ denied the freedom to recreate and spend their hard earned money as they wished. Today, there’s a few more states that have done a good job with sports betting including Colorado, New Jersey, Indiana, Iowa and Michigan. There’s a few other states that have shown some promise but are hampered by burdensome regulations or insane taxes and fees. You can put Illinois, Pennsylvania and West Virginia into this category.
The rest of the country isn’t much better off than before PASPA. Residents in many states run by religious fundamentalist loons (Alabama) or corrupt big government bureaucracies (California) have no clue when their states will regulate sports betting. Other states offer a pitiful facsimile of sports betting run by the state lottery (Oregon, Delaware, New Hampshire) creating a monopoly environment with few, if any, options. Some states check several boxes of incompetence like Montana and Connecticut–where the governors are more interested in juicing in cronies than creating a viable sports betting industry to benefit the entire state–and Tennessee with it’s absurd 10% minimum hold requirement.
That’s why I prefer to focus on the states that are doing it *right*. At some point, the states that have bungled sports betting through cronyism, corruption or incompetence or simply deference to the lottery bureaucrats will figure out that they’re dramatically underachieving financially and delivering a substandard product to their residents. They’ll be forced to go back to the proverbial drawing board and do what they *should* have done in the first place–model their sports betting ecosystem on states like Colorado that have figured it out. There’s definitely plenty of incompetence and stupidity to go around but it’s better for the future of sports betting in the US to focus on the good rather than wallow in the misery of the bad.
I love spending time in Colorado as their sports betting industry is a vivid illustration of what is possible. The Colorado betting ecosystem is great for players, great for the industry and creating economic benefits for the entire state. Companies are setting up offices in Denver bringing jobs and investment with them. A myriad of support businesses are being boosted by the vibrancy of the Colorado sports betting industry–everything from media to PR to data services. You name it. It’s great to see the visual evidence that Colorado is becoming one of the epicenters of the US sports betting industry–like Circa Sports logos on the Denver light rail trains. Colorado is a beautiful state, Denver is a great city and just being there gets me excited about the future of sports betting all over again.
One component of this is the innovation taking place in Colorado and the other states that ‘get it’. Earlier today, a company called Blackhawk Network announced the launch of their Game On gift card product in Colorado and Indiana. The company is a big player in prepaid cards, gift cards, loyalty cards, etc–what is known as the ‘branded payments’ industry. They launched the Game On cards in New Jersey and Pennsylvania in late 2020 and are now expanding to other markets. They’re essentially gift cards that allow sports bettors to fund accounts at participating sportsbooks.
DraftKings launched a branded gift card in December 2020 but the Game On card allows players to post up at any of several sportsbooks–in Colorado, they’re currently accepted at BetMGM, DraftKings, Fan Duel and BetRivers. Hopefully, they’ll bring some more of Colorado’s 20+ (and counting) online sports betting providers on board as well. The Companies that are nominally in competition working together to make things better for the betting public and industry as a whole is something that is long overdue.
Here’s Richard Gotlieb, head of lottery and sports betting at Blackhawk Network, talking about bringing his company’s Game On product to Colorado and Indiana:
“The popularity of online sports betting and gaming is on the rise, with the global sports market expected to grow by nearly a third in the next five years. Game On is a unique tool for funding for players and a great gifting option. We’re thrilled about the expansion into two growing gaming markets in Colorado and Indiana, as well as plans for additional states in the near future.”
I’ll be back out in Colorado soon and when I’m there I’ll take the Game On card for a test drive and report back.