Business By The Books: 2024 ‘Put Up Or Shut Up’ Time For Virtual Sports Betting

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Inspired CEO Brooks Pierce is hoping for big things out of the virtual sports betting business in North America this year.

Virtual sports have not gained the same traction in the US as they have in Europe. Virtuals are simulations of popular sports that wrap up in just minutes and have been a popular complementary product alongside sports betting.

The market had a ways to go when sports betting began legalizing around the country, as there was little content based on the four big US sports and leagues. That is changing, though, with Inspired signing deals with top leagues to make the products more appealing to American bettors.

“And the strategy for us has been in particular with these licensed brands, because Virtual Sports is new to the US betting consumer,” Pierce said on Inspired’s earnings call Tuesday. “So we thought the power of brands like the NBA and the NFL would be a good way to introduce this to the North American market. Seeing good results out of Ontario already, which has been out for a while. But I would say ’24 is going to be the time to kind of put up or shut up in terms of North America.”

US sports betting ops launch INSE virtuals

Previous deals for Inspired virtual sports in the US were with lottery operators, but new agreements could be the game changer, Pierce said.

“I really do feel like we’re at an inflection point now with BetMGM going live and Rush Street going live,” he said. “And honestly, I think it will help drive some of the other operators if we’re successful with those guys.”

The NFL game will go live with BetMGM and BetRivers in the first half of this year. The game is already live with Inspired’s unspecified largest customer, and revenue is growing weekly and is not cannibalizing an existing NFL virtual game using alumni.

Kambi also noted a deal with one of its new turnkey customers required virtual sports with Inspired winning the bid.

IGT sports betting product merging with EVRI

IGT is spinning off its gaming and digital businesses to combine with slot manufacturer and fintech giant Everi in a deal that values the combined company at $6.2 billion.

The combined company will keep the IGT name. Shareholders of IGT will own 54% of the company.

The combination creates a one-stop shop for online casinos, retail gaming, sports betting and fintech. The company projects pro forma 2024 adjusted EBITDA at about $1 billion.

IGT CEO Vince Sadusky will head the new company, with Everi Executive Chairman Michael Rumbolz serving as chairman.

Flutter publishes reports in US GAAP

Flutter released a report detailing its transition from international financial reporting standards to US GAAP, or generally accepted accounting principles.

The report includes data for 2021, 2022 and the first half of 2023. Full 2023 results and 2024 guidance will be announced March 26.

Elsewhere, Flutter director David Lazzarato will not seek reelection and will step down as of the annual general meeting on May 1.

Rebuck retires from NJDGE

David Rebuck, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement’s director for 13 years, retired effective immediately Thursday.

Deputy Director Mary Jo Flaherty will serve as interim director.

Court to rule on Hermalyn lawyer fees without hearing

The Central District Court of California will decide whether DraftKings should pay Michael Hermalyn more than $300,000 in lawyer fees for its attempts to remove his state case to federal court without a hearing.

Hermalyn left DraftKings to join Fanatics as its head of VIP, but DraftKings is suing to enforce the non-compete clause Hermalyn signed. Hermalyn, meanwhile, says he established California residency to take the job, which frees him from his non-compete.

Ontario celebrity sports betting ad ban in effect

Ontario‘s ban on celebrities and athletes appearing in sports betting ads is now in effect.

The ban is not a total ban on their presence, though. They can still serve as spokespeople when the content of the ad is focused on responsible gambling.