Show notes from Sue Schneider Interview
Ryan Knuppel: Today we talk with iGaming veteran Sue Schneider, all about her experiences in the sports betting space, plus how SBC is prepared to have another great conference at Betting on Sports America 2020.
Ryan Knuppel: Everywhere you turn, it’s the same old sports talk, the same headlines, the same news and the same boring information, this podcast is here to change all of that. We bring you hot sports takes, winning sports betting strategy and picks, reliable gaming industry news and breaking interviews with some of the biggest names in sports business. My name is Ryan Knuppel and welcome to the Knup Sports Show.
Ryan Knuppel: All right. Welcome back to another episode of the Knup Sports Show. I’m your host, Ryan Knuppel, back at you again. Today I’m joined by one of my favorite people. One of my favorite people in the entire iGaming industry, Sue Schneider is with me on the line. Sue, are you with me?
Sue Schneider: Hey, it’s great to be on here.
Ryan Knuppel: Hey Sue, I appreciate you joining me, for taking some of your time and maybe getting out of the cold weather up there in St. Louis and getting on this podcast with me. Thank you for joining.
Sue Schneider: Yeah, my pleasure.
Ryan Knuppel: Awesome. So as Sue has been around, for those of you that … I’m assuming most of you listening to this show have probably met Sue or heard of Sue in some way, shape or form. But Sue, give us a little background of, I guess, where you’ve been in the iGaming industry, how you started and then how long ago that was.
Sue Schneider: Well, from the iGaming side, I actually got started with that in 1995. So yeah, it goes way back. I had been working with a friend on a print riverboat gaming publication, consumer publication, when we got riverboat gaming in St. Louis. In ’95, she’s like, “Hey, there’s this thing called the internet. Maybe we should be putting it on there.” So we put the publication online, it was called Rolling Good Times and Rolling Good Times Online. So, that’s how I got started. Then from there, we really were able to be kind of a central reference in the early, early days for consumers. Then we started iGaming News and got in on the B2B side, industry side. So, that was fun.
Ryan Knuppel: Sure. 1995, so you’ve seen it all in this industry. I mean, literally seen everything happen, if you’ve been in it from that long. So that’s amazing.
Sue Schneider: Yeah, yeah. It was truly the Wild West and a lot of fun, whole lot of fun. A lot of very talented entrepreneurial people, who unfortunately given, especially in the US where things really kind of got started in that regard, they really weren’t seen as legitimate businesses by the authorities. So made for challenges, to say the least.
Ryan Knuppel: Right, amazing. So, let’s fast forward to today. So you’ve had all sorts of roles in this space. I mean, you can talk about owner of the River City Group, you worked at eGaming Brokerage. I mean, I’m looking at your LinkedIn profile. All sorts of places that you’ve been, but now you’re at SBC, the Vice President of America’s growth and strategy for the Americas. SBC as an emerging company, man, they’re really doing some good things here, especially focusing on the United States. I’m based out of the United States, so I see a lot of that. But, I mean, even worldwide, you guys are doing amazing things for this community in this space. Tell me a little bit about your role with SBC and how you came about, I guess, getting with those guys.
Sue Schneider: Well, I sold River City Group in 2006 and continued to work for those folks for a couple of years, and then got back into the event space as a partner with an event in Las Vegas and one in Malta. So I really was kind of semi-retired, I was helping folks at Gaming Law Review edit their publication, just to kind of keep a hand in.
Ryan Knuppel: Sure.
Sue Schneider: Then when the [inaudible 00:03:54] was overruled by the Supreme Court, I thought, “Okay, I don’t want to start something new. That’s not my intention, but I would like to get back in on this.” So, I have always been intrigued with what [inaudible 00:04:07] and the folks at SBC had been doing the last few years. So we talked and they wanted to come into the US, didn’t necessarily have the relationships. So that’s really been my role probably more than anything.
Ryan Knuppel: That’s amazing. Talk a little bit about relationships and how that plays a part in this space. Because that’s one thing that I’ve really enjoyed over the last year or two, and this isn’t something I’ve always been comfortable with, is relationship building. But me personally, I’ve really started to grow that side of myself and just building the personal relationships.
Ryan Knuppel: It seems like you’ve been a master at it for forever in this space. Tell the audience a little bit about, I guess, how important that is and if they’re maybe not natural at building those relationships, maybe a little tip on how they can build that area of their life or their business.
Sue Schneider: Well, it has been very interesting and I think it’s really key to building a successful business. I mean, even with what I’m doing with SBC, it’s developing partnerships with gaming associations and gaming media and sports betting or sports media in general, the more mainstream ones. I think if you’re not comfortable with that at the beginning, it’s something you need to kind of push yourself to do. You just got to get out there.
Sue Schneider: I mean, one of the things that I find interesting is you are finding out now with what you’re doing, is that a lot of times people that are in our business may be in the same town even, or the same proximity and they don’t know each other. So doing like you’ve done with just an informal gathering and that sort of thing is really key, that’s how you build those relationships. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, because people have busy schedules. But I think once they get in and they start seeing the value of that kind of informal networking, it just tends to grow from there. So, it’s a lot of fun.
Ryan Knuppel: It is. It’s fun and rewarding. Yeah, I was blown away by the amount of people just here in the little Orlando metro area when we started trying to do a little Orlando meetup for iGaming professionals. I was blown away at the amount of people that were like, “Oh, yeah, I’m in this area or I’m just down the road or I’m in Lakeland.” I’m like, “Wow, really?” I’ve talked to these people time and time again and didn’t realize they were even in our area.
Sue Schneider: Yeah.
Ryan Knuppel: So I’d encourage listeners in an area to just reach out to people in their space and maybe put themselves out there, try to do a little more with people, because I think it can go a long way, plus helps build your business. I mean, whatever business you’re in, service business or sales or whatever, it just helps kind of create that relationship before ever trying to sell anything to anyone, I think, is always key.
Sue Schneider: Mm-hmm (affirmative). I’ve always, when I’ve talked to people that are kind of up and coming, talked about getting involved with various associations or whatever. I mean, we started one in 1996 called Interactive Gaming Council, IGC. For better or worse, mainly because nobody else wanted to put their mug out there. I was Chairman of that for eight years and subsequently I testified to Congress, I’ve been on a variety of very mainstream … when they were trying to fight the Kyle bill and all that, I really ended up being kind of the face of that for better or worse.
Sue Schneider: But I find that that sort of stuff really does give you good exposure, you have to feel comfortable with it. If you don’t, then again, I push myself to do that. But it’s those kind of experiences and stepping out into those kinds of things, advocacy efforts and all that, really do pay dividends with your business, frankly.
Ryan Knuppel: They do, they do. So let’s fast forward to today, to now. You are the traveling lady, you are all over the place. I see you going into conference after conference, speaking here, speaking there. Tell us a little bit about your experiences, I guess, over the last year here, where you’ve been going and then we’ll get into a little bit more about the Betting on Sports event here in a bit. But just tell us a little bit about your travels and some of the events that you’ve been attending over the past year.
Sue Schneider: Okay, sure. I think a lot of it is, again, the various associations. It might be the either National Indian Gaming Association or the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association, which puts on an amazing show, trade show, or it might be … there’s all these acronyms out there. My husband’s always laughing about it, but the state gets the legislators from gaming states, there’s gaming regulators. There are just all kinds of groups out there that all put on fairly decent, most of them are conference size, some of them are larger and have a trade show with it. But as of the May of year before last, they really are all clamoring for information about spending.
Sue Schneider: When you look at what’s transpired, I mean, we’re now at 20 states plus DC that have legalized in less than [inaudible 00:09:04] thought it would never happen in my lifetime. So just to see the speed of … especially I think the slow pace of just regular internet gaming. I think that’s been a disappointment to people to see how internet poker, internet casino games have been very, very slow to take up. But for some reason when it came to sports betting, there seems to be an appetite in state legislators for legalizing that.
Ryan Knuppel: Right, right. Amazing. So, Betting on Sports America. So, SBC obviously is known for putting on great events across the world. I want to focus a little bit on the one here in the United States and what that’s all about. So last year I attended that event, got to meet up with you. What a first-class event you guys put on last year at the Meadowlands there in New Jersey. I was blown away. Because really, I mean, when I think about it, it was one of the first iGaming specific events that I attended, especially here focused on the United States. So it was really kind of groundbreaking in that a sense.
Ryan Knuppel: But man, you guys did such a good job with that event. I was blown away and I’ve been looking forward to this, I guess, this April timeframe again for Betting on Sports America 2020 ever since. Tell us a little bit about the planning of that and, I mean, give us a pitch. I mean, it’s coming up, right? This event’s going to be bigger and better than last year or going to be about the same or what?
Sue Schneider: No, I think it’s going to be bigger and better. It’s interesting, I mean, when I first spoke with the folks with SBC about getting involved with them, I mean, my concern was about the quality of the event that they do. But now that I’ve seen it in a number of both here and across the pond, I mean, they do a great job. So, the standards that they use are amazing and they have a great philosophy about basically taking care of you from morning till night.
Sue Schneider: I mean, I would warn people that try not to get too booked up with evening dinners and everything else, because you’re going to be in Jay-Z’s club in Manhattan one night, you’ll be on the top of the Meadowlands Racetrack one night with an amazing view of Manhattan. I mean, they take care of you pretty much all the way through. So the evening networking is really excellent, as you experienced. Plus there’s a little dancing, so that’s always kind of fun.
Ryan Knuppel: Oh, boy. Oh, boy. Don’t get me going out on the dance floor, you never know how that’ll turn out.
Sue Schneider: Well, I’ve seen it.
Ryan Knuppel: Oh, man. Shh, hey, we don’t say that on this podcast. Maybe we’ll get a little video clip of that this year and get the-
Sue Schneider: That’d be fun. That’d be fun.
Ryan Knuppel: Oh, man. I don’t know.
Sue Schneider: It’s scheduled April 28th through the 30th. The event itself during the day is at the Meadowlands Exhibition Center, just across the bridge from Manhattan. I think the thing that’s really interesting is just we’re adding a lot of new things. We’re adding a pitch competition for startups, because now there are just companies and concepts coming out all over the place that I think are going to be really a lot of fun to look at. We’re continuing with partnerships with other companies, other organizations, so it looks like it’s going to be a pretty good mix.
Sue Schneider: Last year when the folks at SBC said, “Oh, we’re going to have 1500 people.” I’ve been in the events business for a long time and including some in the US, and that’s hard thing for a launch, but they were right. I mean, they were right on the money and they expect that number to grow substantially this year. Because the intent is really to have kind of a big tent. So it’s suppliers, it’s operators, it’s content folks, it’s regulators, it’s policy makers, it’s sports and gaming media.
Sue Schneider: We had players there, professional players there that wanted to just kind of get a grasp on what’s going on with the industry. So it’s nice to be able to have that mix of people, the leagues, the teams. It’s a really interesting mix and you’ll find a little bit of every one of those verticals that I just mentioned in there, plus some.
Ryan Knuppel: Yeah. Yeah, I definitely agree. I’m really looking forward to it, back at the same facility this year. Yeah, those after parties and just all of the stuff was super, super awesome last year, so I’m looking forward to that again. Yeah, just one word of warning to some of you maybe that have not been to some of these conferences. Oh, man, you kind of got to prepare your day though. You got to prepare. If you want to talk to somebody, you better plan it ahead of time, because sometimes it is very difficult to, I guess, schedule your day, because there’s so much going on.
Ryan Knuppel: I mean, there’s speaker tracks, there’s panel discussions, there’s lunches, there’s this, there’s that. It’s just a full two, three days of awesomeness. So if you really have something specific you want to do at one of these events, make sure you plan that ahead of time. Spend some time up front planning your week, if that’s what you want to get out of it. If you just want to get out, get there, experience it, take it all in, that’s one thing. But if you’re trying to get some meetings, man, I would definitely try to plan those ahead of time.
Sue Schneider: Yeah, that’s really good advice. We have an app that helps do that, because people that are attending opt-in for that. So you can kind of look through there and say, “Okay, I want to get with somebody from this particular company or whatever.” So if you do a little bit of pre-planning, it is much more efficient and definitely wear comfortable shoes.
Ryan Knuppel: Yes, yes. It’ll be a long day for sure. Hey, give me a, I’m going to put you on the spot here. Give me a little bit of your insider info on where are we going to be, let’s say in a year or two here in Florida where I’m at, and let’s take another big state like California. How’s California looking as far as legalizing sports betting? What’s your prediction? Will we see it in either of those big markets, let’s say in the next two years?
Sue Schneider: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Well, I mean, if you look at the big picture, there are definitely a number of states that are probably going to be adding in this legislative season, which is just now gearing up. I don’t know what that number’s going to be, probably minimum of five more maybe, if not more than that. California is very interesting. I mean, we’ve watched attempts there to get online poker for, I don’t know how long, decade plus, and that has not been successful.
Sue Schneider: I think this one may be a little bit different. California has the three main kind of verticals there. One is the card rooms, one is the tribal casinos and the other is the horse tracks or the racetracks. So, it’s a situation where they’ve all kind of butted heads with each other in the past. There are some attempts now to put some things on the ballots and get some things through the legislature. I think there’s some agreement at least between the tracks and the tribal casinos.
Sue Schneider: So, we’re actually working on putting a panel on that together as I speak really, to try to get representatives from all three of those to show what are the issues? What do they want? Because what I’d love to see is just lock all those folks in a room for as long as it takes and say, “Just work it out.” I mean, there’s got to be some way to work through what the specific issues are to each of those groups. I don’t know if that’ll happen this year. For California, it’s still too up in the air. It seems like there’s agreement from two thirds of that [inaudible 00:16:42], but they can’t seem to get something that everyone can agree on, so that one’s still up in the air.
Sue Schneider: Florida’s interesting, because between the Seminoles and Disney and plus just some attempts at gambling expansion in general, I don’t know if Florida’s ready yet either. I mean, I’m not sure Disney and they’re based where you were, you know what their power is and they don’t seem to really like any gambling bills that come up, because I guess they figure that may divert funds out of their pocket in some ways. I’m not sure I get that philosophy. What do you think? You’re there, what do you-
Ryan Knuppel: Yeah, no, I mean, I think you’re right. I don’t think it seems like it’s getting any closer. I mean, there’s been some bills proposed, things of that nature, but it just certainly doesn’t feel like we’re really getting any traction here. So, I still think we’re a couple of years plus away here in Florida. But as we’ve seen in some of these states, I mean, things can change quickly, right? It just takes the right people getting in touch with the right people and kind of something clicking for something to really move.
Ryan Knuppel: So yeah, I think we’re a couple of years away probably here. I’m not real familiar with California and what they got going on there. I just know these major markets, once they come on board, are going to be just big players here in the United States. Lots and lots of handle will be taking place there and it’s going to be fun to watch as they do get going.
Sue Schneider: Well, and if you look at the other high population states or the bigger states, even like Illinois, it’s taken a while. But that’s not really unusual for Illinois. You know that also having family there still. Texas, who knows what will ever happen there. So there are some other states. I think people are amazed with Pennsylvania, because first of all, they had, what was it, 34% tax rate or something?
Ryan Knuppel: Yep.
Sue Schneider: So everybody, at first the conventional wisdoms, no one’s even going to apply, well, everyone applied and they’re all doing very well in a lot of cases. So, I mean, I think the market, the demand there has surprised people, because it’s exceeding some of these other areas. The thing I do find interesting though is the phenomena where some of the states, once they’ve gotten over their phobia about mobile gambling, gambling through a mobile device, that they’re now going back and then reauthorizing or authorizing online casino, online poker. There’ve been two or three states now that have done that.
Sue Schneider: So it’s like everybody works so hard to try to get some of these states to come through with internet gambling to begin with and didn’t have any luck. But now that they’ve gotten more of a comfort level with doing it with sports betting, they’re going back and revisiting that in some cases. So I think we may see more of that, which will be kind of a backdoor way to get some of those other products in there.
Ryan Knuppel: Right, right. It’s all kind of predictions at this point. But man, so you are one of the few that has that inside knowledge and really understands what’s going on across the nation. So, man, I appreciate you giving some time here to talk to us and our audience. I won’t keep you any longer, I know you’re a busy lady probably. Where’s the next event that you’re heading to? Where are you heading to next?
Sue Schneider: London ICE is next week and that’s a very, very big show.
Ryan Knuppel: Sure.
Sue Schneider: From the internet gaming side, is probably for sure the biggest, just because it’s more European-based where they’ve been doing this for a while. So that’ll be a very busy week.
Ryan Knuppel: Yeah, that will be and you guys are probably putting on one of your parties there in London as well?
Sue Schneider: London Baby is Tuesday night.
Ryan Knuppel: London Baby. I love it, I love it. I got to attend Vegas Baby for the G2E crowd there and got to hang out with you guys, so that was a good time as well.
Sue Schneider: Good.
Ryan Knuppel: All right, Sue, well, I won’t keep you any longer. I really appreciate it. I just wanted to, I guess, be one to say thank you for all that you do for this industry and for just everything you do, and for all the connections that you’ve helped create across everyone. I think I speak for many when I say thanks for everything that you’ve been doing in this industry.
Sue Schneider: Well, I really appreciate that and I continue to encourage you to get out there and do the kind of networking that you’ve started. Once you get a taste of it, it’s really addictive. So, you’ll be doing it some more.
Ryan Knuppel: You’re right, you’re right. I look forward to seeing you again in April, late April, April 28th through 30th is Betting on Sports America put on SBC. You listeners, you’ve got to be there. If you’re in the iGaming space, any shape or form, you need to be there. So, be sure you say hello to Sue while you’re there and say hello to me as well.
Ryan Knuppel: So Sue, thank you for joining me. I’ll let you go, but thanks again. Actually, where can they get ahold of you if they want to get ahold of you or chat with you or find more about you?
Sue Schneider: It’s very easy. It’s email@example.com.
Ryan Knuppel: Easy enough. All right, Sue, thanks again, appreciate you being here.
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