VP Growth & Strategy, Americas at Sports Betting Community
Sue Schneider is an iGaming industry leader and expert with over two decades of experience in this sector. She is currently the VP Growth & Strategy for Americas in Sports Betting Community (SBC).
You don’t really need an introduction as you are a well-known name in the iGaming world, but if you still need to tell something about you, what it would be?
One thing that may be unexpected is that I play indoor soccer (defense) and have for almost 40 years. It’s a Women’s Over 30 recreational league…in my case, waaay over 30. Actually, it’s been one of the harder things about being on lockdown. But, our team, the Out of Steamers (long story but it goes back to a former St. Louis pro team called the Steamers…as in steamboat) get together for Zoom drinks every Tuesday night so we’re still getting our fix…without the running.
How did you enter the iGaming world and decide to stay?
I was editing a print riverboat gaming consumer publication in 1995 called Rolling Good Times. The owner asked me to partner with her to bring the publication to, as she said, “this thing called the internet”. We called it RGT OnLine and, in hindsight, it was undoubtedly the first affiliate site out there. We subsequently started iGaming News on the B2B side. We split the company in ’98 with me taking the industry side and creating River City Group. That company went on to do other publications, events (like GIGSE, EiG, etc.) and other services. Never looked back.
Did you see any challenges, during the years, of being a woman in the iGaming industry?
Frankly, I never thought about it a whole lot. I cofounded and chaired (for 8 years) an industry association called Interactive Gaming Council (IGC). At its peak, we had over 120 member companies. It was very evident then that it was a very male dominated industry since, at our meetings, there would be maybe 4 or 5 women in a group of 100+ members in attendance. But, I guess it’s my nature to just take the ball and run with it. It’s still a very male oriented industry but nothing like that. It’s the reason I’m a big supporter of women in the business and groups such as All In Diversity and Global Gaming Women.
How is the market in the Americas different from the European one? What are the opportunities/challenges?
Undoubtedly, the biggest difference is that the US market is requiring that licensees, for the most part, have terrestrial facilities. Online operators may enter as partners or “skins” but no state so far is allowing online only operators in the space yet. That may change at some point, potentially in Canada, but it’s not the norm.
How do you see the fact that blockchain and crypto become a valuable asset – for online casino and sportsbook operators, game providers, affiliate…with a big potential for the regulators and of course for the players? Why do so many businesses wait to implement and profit from this amazing technology? How do you think the regulation will affect it?
For whatever reason, the gaming industry seems slow to those things. I’ve moderated panels with regulators to get them fluent with blockchain, something which I believe will help eliminate much of the time, costs and headaches for those companies operating in multiple jurisdictions. But it seems like a slow process. Actually, crypto has experienced a take-up with some of the offshore operators who cater to a US market (post-UIGEA). But, for whatever reason, I don’t see that being approved too broadly in highly regulated jurisdictions in North America in the near term.
Where do you think the sports betting is heading? How do you think the industry will manage to overcome the losses from not having live sport events if the situation persists?
That’s the big question. I really never thought that sports betting would be legalized in the US in my lifetime. But, thanks to the persistence of New Jersey, here we are. However, I find it ironic that with now over 20 states legal, we have no product. I think one thing that’s become crystal clear during this pandemic is that we rely on sports as a real diversion. I hear it often that folks really miss sports whether it’s playing, watching or betting on it. It seems like the first order of business will be to get games going again…without in stadium spectators, of course. Then, we can slowly go back to stadiums when it’s deemed safe.
What should we expect from the SBC Digital Summit? We hear some amazing feedback from the community so far.
It’s happening and the feedback has been really good. Clearly, there are limitations but there’s definitely an interest in connecting with each and hear how other folks are coping and planning for an uncertain future.
What will happen with the networking itself in the near future and do you think this will affect the business or it’s a matter of reorganization / long term speaking/?
What’s interesting is that everyone has now learned how to work together, network and share information remotely. I actually think that we’ll be bringing some of these tools into our collective future and do more virtual events. It will never replace “face to face” events but this has shown us some ways to do interim events virtually. Both event producers as well as the platform providers will continue to refine those tools to make them better and better.
How did you manage to plan the “working from home” situation on a daily basis and how do you keep the motivation for you and for your colleagues up and high?
Personally, I’ve been working from home since 2009 so there was no adjustment for me. And SBC folks have been working like crazy to get that first digital summit off the ground so there hasn’t been much time to think about “motivation”. We have more in the works. Stay tuned.