More than 39 million people reside in California. About 40% of those are Latino.
Roughly 70% of those are projected to be 21 or older by 2030, according to a recent California legislative study.
That’s a lot of potential legal California sports betting enthusiasts.
And to Seth Young and Seth Schorr, that’s a lot of underserved potential customers. Right now.
Those numbers, therefore, represent a lot of promise for JefeBet, an entertainment and gambling content platform created to cater to the Latino and Spanish-speaking communities in all of the Americas.
While Schorr said JefeBet’s objective is to serve a diverse Latino community of more than 60 million living in the US, California is a unique opportunity as residents prep to vote on Prop 26 and Prop 27 on Nov. 8 and possibly bring legal sports betting to the biggest remaining prize on the national gambling map.
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“California’s a massive, massive state,” Young, the chief strategy officer, told California Casinos. “It could be its own country. What is it, the fifth-largest largest economy in the world, if you take it out or put it separate?
“Tremendous opportunities. It all depends on what the structure looks like.”
A future focus for JefeBet is becoming the Latino population’s gambling source for sports betting and online casinos, the latter of which is not yet on the horizon in California. But building an audience for that possible eventuality can only help, Young added.
Michael Pollock, executive director of Spectrum Gaming Group, which analyzes gambling industry trends, agrees there is an opportunity.
“It’s a large population that is growing, in terms of numbers and in terms of earning,” he told California Casinos. “And that translates into disposable income. And that translates into significant potential for gaming revenue. I think this is an idea whose time has come.”
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Pollock said the future of gaming, as with most consumer-facing industries, is targeting these emerging demographics. He described the Latino population as “extremely important.”
“Gaming has been doing this to some extent with the Asian community,” Pollock said. “But the Latino population is definitely underserved.”
PointsBet is the only current sportsbook operator in the United States making a large-scale effort. As an exclusive partner of NBC Sports, it has access to 2.8 million New Yorkers through NBC Telemundo.
B Global managing partner Brendan Bussmann said how operators approach the market in Puerto Rico could indicate a future approach in the rest of the United States.
“We will also see how sports bettors move in the Puerto Rico market,” he told California Casinos. “As things are getting ready to launch later on this fall with a host of operators, we will see how operators target a market where it is very bilingual. With that said, I know the existing casino market wants the same segments you have on the mainland.”
New York Gaming Association president Mike Kane told California Casinos that “unquestionably in the New York City area there would be a market for it.”
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Refurbished All-Spanish JefeBet Casino in Las Vegas a Next Big Step
Fifth Street Gaming Digital, co-founded by Schorr, Young, and Jeffrey Fine, announced the launch of JefeBet in March as an extension of Fifth Street Gaming’s hospitality and casino management company. They have attempted to cater to and create a niche with the Latino market since 2006 in part through operating the Lucky Club Hotel & Casino and the Silver Nugget Casino & Event Center in Las Vegas.
The Lucky Club will close on Sept. 16 – a day after the commencement of Hispanic Heritage Month – for a four-month refurbishment and rebranding as Ojos Locos Sports Cantina y Casino at Hotel Jefe. The Spanish-centric facility features cuisines and games popular to the predominantly Mexican community in the area.
Though Shorr said the regulatory environment isn’t right to attempt a JefeBet sports betting platform in Nevada, the company plans to expand from providing media content to support online casinos and sports betting, to actually offering those gambling options themselves. Among those plans, Schorr said, is a real-money online casino in Latin America in the first half of 2023.
On the JefeBet website, sports and entertainment news geared to the tastes of the Latino community — heavier on boxing and soccer than mainstream American sites, but with major doses of the NFL and MLB — is available in English and Spanish. A podcast network was launched in October.
In an era when gambling companies are devouring media-creators, JefeBet is building up a social media and content reputation waiting for laws or markets to emerge.
“This is all a very long-term plan,” Schorr, the CEO, said. “We’re very lucky to have our own assets to start with.”
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California, Texas, and Florida have the largest Latino populations in the US with a combined market of 32.7 million, according to 2020 US Census data. They are also some of the most confounding but tantalizing states for regulators and operators attempting to legalize sports betting and online casinos. California and Florida have multiple tribal casinos. Texas has one, although gambling is illegal in the state constitution.
Florida had sports betting via the Seminole Tribe for a month in November before its compact with the Department of the Interior was voided by a federal judge for over-reach.
So for now, if JefeBet can reach Latinos in California, Florida, and Texas as sports fans and entertainment consumers and create a potential user base, the potential is sky-high if and when those states legalize sports betting and online casinos.
“If you look at where the market has been and where the market is going, some of the largest emerging markets like Texas, California, Arizona — we would still consider emerging — Florida, major Spanish speaking populations,” Young said. “And so for us to be able to focus on those jurisdictions is a simple function of that’s where our audience is.
“It really does prepare us well for whatever the future may hold. We certainly have ambitions to make this brand the one that is thought of if you are Latino or Hispanic in this country or elsewhere, and you’re looking for a gaming experience that is for you.”
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