The Week In Sports Betting: Delaware At The Starting Line, DraftKings Finds NJ Home

Written By Eric Ramsey on June 1, 2018
Delaware sports betting first

Brighter days are here! June has officially arrived, the first of the summer months. Those in foul-weather states are finally starting to thaw out from that especially clingy winter. Vitamin D intake is up across the board.

The US sports betting industry has never seen this much sunshine before. It’s been almost three weeks since the US Supreme Court repealed the federal ban, and the first states are already preparing for launch.

Have no fear if you’re a little bit out of the loop. Things have been happening fast since May 14. As we’re prone to doing these days, we shall now run through the major headlines of the past week for you. There’s enough here to make you feel like you’ve been keeping up on sports betting, at least.

Happy Friday, y’all.

The First State will be the first state

Did you circle June 5 on your calendar yet? It’s no ordinary Tuesday, you know.

That’s the day Delaware expects to launch sports betting, which would make it the first state outside of Nevada to book a legal wager. DE sports betting was made possible by a lottery expansion back in 2009. And, of course, SCOTUS.

It looks like “The First State” will beat New Jersey into the market, which would be fitting in more ways than one. Although NJ was ultimately responsible for toppling PASPA, its southern neighbor was the first to challenge the prohibition.

By the time we write this recap next week, folks will be betting on sports in Delaware — legally and under regulatory oversight. What a world.

DraftKings finds sports betting partner

Daily fantasy sports site FanDuel made headlines last week, the target of an acquisition from leading bookmaker Paddy Power Betfair.

This week, it’s the other DFS heavyweight generating the big news.

On Friday, DraftKings announced a partnership with Resorts Atlantic City, giving it a launchpad for NJ sports betting pending approval. Details are still pretty sparse, including how DraftKings intends to provide an actual wagering platform. If it gets the go-ahead from regulators, though, it’ll be the first DFS operator to obtain a US sports betting license.

DraftKings is also getting its tires kicked as an acquisition in the US market.

Speaking of our friends in New Jersey…

What’s new in New Jersey?

Delaware might be first, but New Jersey still remains at the very center of the conversation. Operators, lawmakers and regulators are all scrambling to put the final pieces into place.

This week in NJ:

  • Ocean Resort Casino and William Hill confirm their partnership, and ORC sheds some light on its sportsbook construction. It sounds like it’s going to be snazzy.
  • Thanks to today’s news, we can presume Resorts has plans for sports betting, too. It’s not clear if DraftKings will be involved with the branding/operations of a brick-and-mortar sportsbook, nor is the timeline.
  • It’s branding everything else in the state, so why not? DraftKings Sportsbook launches its first advertising campaign, promoting online sports betting across highway billboards and transit stations.
  • In an amusing exchange, the sports leagues respond to a lawsuit brought by the NJ Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, which seeks almost $150 million in damages. Then the NJTHA responds to the response.
  • A poll of NJ residents finds a large majority support widespread sports betting. And an equally large majority do not support the concept of integrity fees.

More regulatory movement

Those two states will be the first states to launch sports betting since the SCOTUS ruling, but there’s another ambitious group closing in, too. There was some noteworthy movement in five others this week:

  • Illinois made a half-hearted attempt to pass sports betting legislation right before adjourning. Rep. Robert Rita rekindled an old casino expansion bill, adding placeholders for Illinois sports betting, online gambling, and DFS. The late amendment may set the stage for a renewed effort later this year.
  • New York regulators say they’re working to craft a framework for NY sports betting under the existing law. If they follow through, the four commercial casinos would be allowed to take bets without additional legislation.
  • Pennsylvania starts making some moves. The gaming board draws up the first set of temporary regulations, outlining definitions and the application process for PA sports betting. A day later, regulators announce that they’re accepting applications from would-be operators.
  • Michigan is trying, but progress is awfully tough — at least with sports betting and online gambling tied together in legislation. Lawmakers and tribal leaders are at an impasse over the specifics, and Rep. Brandt Iden can’t see a resolution in sight.
  • Connecticut lawmakers might have another crack at passing a sports betting bill this year. Gov. Dannel Malloy reaffirms his plans to call a special session on CT sports betting this summer.

We haven’t written about West Virginia sports betting in a while, but it’s ready to go pending regulations.

A few tidbits

There are a couple other things worth mentioning that we can’t figure out where to put. So we’ll put them here:

  • MGM plants a flag in the Big Apple. Well, near it. The group purchases the Empire City Casino in Yonkers for $850 million, finally finding a New York home. It’s not unreasonable to think that a giant like MGM could help move the sports betting and online gambling conversations along.
  • ESPN doesn’t have a direct stake in the betting industry, but the sports media leader is tickled about legalization all the same. The network launches the first mainstream sports gambling show, with content from The Action Network. It’s called “I’ll Take That Bet.”

Sports attorney John Holden also provided a couple guest articles this week, touching on some of the legal intricacies of sports betting legislation.

The takes

Another week of takes! As usual, we’re forced to take the bad along with the good.

Good ones

  • An updated bill in NY replaces “sports wagering integrity fee” with “sports wagering royalty fee.” The concept still makes us cringe, but we appreciate Sen. John Bonacic calling a spade a spade.
  • Along these lines, former NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman also express discomfort with “integrity fees,” though he does feel leagues are justified in seeking compensation from sports betting at the federal level.
  • Contrary to what the leagues are saying, legalizing sports betting is a good way to combat the shenanigans of unscrupulous bettors (or players).
  • Juan Carlos Blanco warns mobile sports betting startups to use caution when navigating state laws.
  • The guys on TheLines Podcast offer a practical fix for the ridiculous payout structures of handicapping contests: Hire host Matt Brown as a consultant.

Bad ones

Only a few this week, which is refreshing:

  • NBA Commissioner Adam Silver makes a surprise appearance on the list this week. He’s sharp, but he maintains this strange stance that the NBA is some kind of charity. “We will spend roughly $7.5 billion creating NBA basketball this season,” Silver uses as justification for integrity fees. Royalty fees, that is.
  • Disgraced former NBA referee Tim Donaghy keeps on talking about sports betting. He’s right about some things and wrong about others, but mostly he should just shut up.
  • Las Vegas bookmaking boss Jay Kornegay is another sharp one who stumbled into a bad take this week. Kornegay says he doesn’t “see the need” for Westgate to book action on high school sports. He doesn’t see the need because THERE ISN’T ONE. Ever.
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Eric Ramsey

Eric is a reporter and writer covering regulated US gambling, sports betting, and DFS. He comes from a poker background, formerly on staff at PokerNews and the World Poker Tour.

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