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Legal sports betting right beside an NFL training camp? That strange thought could be a reality by this fall.
The Greenbrier in West Virginia will partner with FanDuel for its sports betting operation, as first reported in a Pro Football Talk report. A FanDuel press release confirmed the deal Tuesday morning, with comments from CEO Matt King:
“We are honored to be chosen to provide sports wagering services at The Greenbrier, an iconic resort in the U.S. As we work towards building out a top sports betting product for the upcoming NFL season, we look forward to bringing West Virginia residents, sports fans, and visitors to The Greenbrier the best interactive sports experience on the market.”
The deal is the first sports betting partnership confirmed in WV and the first one anywhere for FanDuel.
The state’s lottery, which will administer West Virginia sports betting, approved last week emergency regulations to facilitate a launch by fall. Those regulations open the door to online and mobile sports betting, hugely important to a successful state market.
West Virginia legislators passed sports betting into law in March. The law allows the state’s five casinos to offer legal sports betting in exchange for a $100,000 licensing fee and ten percent of revenue paid in taxes.
No integrity fees go to the pro sports leagues in West Virginia despite intense lobbying from MLB and NBA executives. Lawmakers declined to put in the fees, then fought off an attempt by Gov. Jim Justice to reopen the law to insert them soon after passage.
The press release lays out the full game plan for WV sports betting at The Greenbrier:
The Greenbrier plans to have an onsite wagering platform inside The Casino Club at The Greenbrier, America’s only private casino, as well as a FanDuel-branded online site and mobile application. Plans are to have the services running by the fall. The exact date will be contingent on when the state of West Virginia’s regulations are put in place.
Regulators expect to have the industry ready for launch by Sept. 1 at the latest. Operators can partner with up to three online/mobile platform providers apiece.
The property’s president, Dr. Jill Justice, said The Greenbrier is excited to offer a new guest amenity. “The Casino Club at The Greenbrier has been an attractive destination for our guests and members since its opening,” she said, “and sports betting provides yet another element to the casino experience.”
It remains to be seen whether the platform will be available statewide or exclusively to members and guests of the private club. A members-only sportsbook would seem to be both in line with The Greenbrier’s culture and a hinderance to potential revenue.
The NFL continues to fight for control of a legal sports betting market it may not have wanted in the first place; it was one of the litigants in the US Supreme Court case, supporting the federal ban, a case it lost. Now, fans at an NFL training camp could be placing mobile sports bets on who will win the Super Bowl.
The Houston Texans hold their training camp at The Greenbrier, which is owned by the family of Justice. The governor allowed the law authorizing West Virginia sports betting to go into law without his signature because of the conflict of interest.
The Greenbrier is also the host of an annual PGA Tour event, scheduled this year for July 5-8.
The announcement of a sports betting deal for FanDuel comes with slightly strange timing. The DFS operator isn’t the middle of being acquired by Dublin-based gaming company Paddy Power Betfair.
That deal could close as soon as early July.
FanDuel, by itself, has no known means to provide a sports betting product on its own, so this deal is almost certainly predicated on the PPB deal closing in short order. The deal would close, in theory, well before West Virginia launches sports betting — mobile and otherwise — officially.
PPB subsidiary Betfair US has also formed its own partnership with Tioga Downs (New York) and Meadowlands Racetrack (New Jersey), planning to use the FanDuel brand in those two states, too.
It’s not exactly clear why the WV partnership was inked with FanDuel directly, while the other sports betting partnerships have been crafted through PPB.
DraftKings will apparently be the first of the two DFS operators to market for sports betting, however.
The company has already announced deals with both Resorts Atlantic City and Kambi Group in its efforts to launch New Jersey sports betting this summer. Mobile wagering in NJ could go live as soon as mid-July, and DraftKings has reported it would be ready for day one.
While both DraftKings and FanDuel have been focused almost entirely on DFS to date, that changed quickly when the US Supreme Court struck down the federal ban. And both have sought to use that ruling to their advantage.