Legal Sports Report

The Week In Sports Betting: New Jersey Gets Another Sportsbook, FanDuel Makes A Deal

ocean resort casino

It’s been seven weeks since the US Supreme Court decision ushering in a new era of legal sports betting. Don’t know about you, but we’re still kind of pinching ourselves about it all.

In the meantime, Delaware and New Jersey have both launched their own regulated industries alongside Nevada’s. Several more states are set to join in the coming months, and plenty of others are working their way into the conversation. We’ve had new partnerships to talk about every week, too, and that’s the case once again this week.

Want to know pretty much everything that happened around the industry during the last seven days? You’re in the right spot.

New Jersey gets two casinos and a sportsbook

Atlantic City put its party hat on this week. On Thursday, two of the city’s shuttered Boardwalk casinos re-opened hours apart.

The former Trump Taj Mahal is now Hard Rock Atlantic City, and the $500 million renovation looks like money well spent. The property is immaculate, and the focus on entertainment was evident in the grand opening performance. It was, indeed, pretty grand. Guitars were smashed.

Hard Rock AC doesn’t have a sportsbook yet, but Chairman Jim Allen says it’s only a matter of time. Expect to hear more about his plans for NJ sports betting in the next 30-60 days. The Hard Rock online casino is already up and running.

The Boardwalk did get a new sportsbook, though — its first one, in fact.

The “old” Revel/TEN reopened as the glorious Ocean Resort Casino while the confetti was still falling at Hard Rock. Owner Bruce Deifik hosted the ceremonies for his monolithic property, joined on the steps by actor/restauranteur Mark Wahlberg.

Deifik has made sports betting a focal point of his plans since purchase, and a partnership with William Hill US allowed the Ocean to take bets on Day 1. The sportsbook is still being finished, but PlayNJ took a sneak peek inside if you’re curious how it looks. Wahlberg placed the first bet on the New England Patriots.

We keep saying the casinos opened on Thursday, but they actually welcomed guests the moment they received approval on Wednesday afternoon. Time is money in the casino business, you know.

The guys on TheLines Podcast spent some time talking about the openings, too.

States creeping a little closer

A handful of states that are stalking legal sports betting put another foot forward this week.

  • New York: Influential Assm. Gary Pretlow maintains that the four commercial casinos could have NY sports betting later this year. Bills to expand wagering to horse racing tracks and OTBs are “in a coma” but likely to emerge with good prospects in 2019 — and royalty fees (integrity fees) for sports leagues.
  • Illinois: Sources say new hearings on IL sports betting could come as early as July. There are a lot of cooks in the kitchen, though, and it’s going to take time to create a recipe that pleases all palates. With the legislature already adjourned and an election coming up, late 2018 figures to be the earliest we’ll see progress.
  • Mississippi: In the coming days, Gov. Phil Bryant is likely to call a special session to sort out the allocation of revenue from MS sports betting. The state is still on track to become the fourth with live, legal betting if the July 21 rumors hold.
  • Connecticut: There’s still a possibility of a special session on CT sports betting this summer, too, but the prognosis isn’t great. Gov. Dannel Malloy warns, “don’t anyone hold your breath,” over a tribal-state agreement that likely needs to come first. Not everyone is on the same page yet.
  • Kentucky: The new nine-member KY sports betting panel gets right to work. Sen. Julian Carroll pre-files a bill for next year, which gives him some time to reconsider his absurd proposed tax rate.

It’s also worth giving Nevada some love.

Despite the cancelation of the Canelo/GGG fight, NV sports betting totaled $315.5 million in May. That’s just shy of a record for the month, ending a two-May skid. Books won $20.5 million, good for a tidy 6.5-percent hold.

Daily fantasy sports betting

Category: Before & After. I’d like to solve the puzzle, Pat. “Daily. Fantasy. Sports. Betting.”

Sports betting and daily fantasy sports will never fully merge into one vertical, but they’re certainly migrating toward each other with a quickness. The two primary DFS operators, DraftKings and FanDuel, continue to pivot hard toward the more-lucrative industry. And who can really blame them?

There was one major DFS headline this week, plus a couple other things worth highlighting.

  • FanDuel partners with The Greenbrier, the private resort and casino in West Virginia. It’s the site’s first partnership in the emerging industry, giving it a direct path into WV sports betting. Regulators expect to issue licenses before September.
  • DraftKings unveils daily fantasy tennis for Wimbledon. It’s the first time a major DFS operator has ventured into the realm, and it speaks to the trend toward single-game/round contests that more-closely approximate betting.
  • Data from NY Gaming tells us that DFS sites generated $3.2 billion in US handle and $335 million in revenue over the last fiscal year. Those numbers are staying pretty flat, certainly a factor in the operational pivot.
  • Some bad news here. Pennsylvania regulators say casinos can only deploy one self-branded platform for online PA sports betting. That doesn’t shut DFS operators out entirely, but it does prevent them from fully leveraging their brands in the market.
  • Good news for the many folks pining to gamble on feats of competitive eating! DraftKings says its new sportsbook will take action on hot dog eating contests.

The delicious leftovers

The bad takes continue to die down enough that we don’t need to call folks out in their own section of shame. Phew. Instead, here are some miscellaneous takes and other tidbits that cropped up over the week:

  • Rob Manfred, the commissioner of Major League Baseball, takes a shot at state gaming regulators. Manfred contends that leagues should not rely on states to ensure the integrity of sports. (Read: give us money to do so ourselves.)
  • Former NJ governor Chris Christie trolls current Gov. Phil Murphy for losing the first legal sports bet in their state. Murphy bet on Germany to win the World Cup, dooming the defending champions to a shocking exit in the Group stage.
  • The Meadowlands is poised to become the biggest draw for sports bettors in New York. The only problem, at least from NY’s perspective, is that the property is located across the border in New Jersey. This is what happens when you miss the boat.
  • Joss Wood contends that some US sports betting provisions could be out of date from the moment they’re passed. Given the surge of esports betting and virtual sports betting, lawmakers and regulators would do well to employ a bit of forward thinking.
  • Juan Carlos Blanco reminds said lawmakers and regulators that bettors hate being squeezed. Modest taxes and fees are fundamental to states’ ability to compete with the gray/black industry.
  • Scott Longley warns that a supply crunch could be the thing the does the squeezing. The current landscape is creating an immense, likely overrated pressure to be the first to enter US markets.
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.