Sports betting is no longer illegal at the federal level, thanks to the US Supreme Court repealing PASPA in May. In addition to Nevada, gambling institutions in the great states of New Jersey and Delaware also are accepting legal wagers. Both began doing so in June. More states will follow suit in the coming months.
Any questions? Good. We must move quickly.
If you’re new around here, we like to spend our Fridays leisurely recapping the sports betting headlines from the week. We typically employ considerable wit and charm to make the summary a little easier for you, dear reader, to trudge through it.
We don’t have time to mess around this week. There’s too much, so let’s go.
New Jersey sports betting stuff
Good grief — heavy news out of New Jersey. I mean, that’s been the case for months now, but there was an extra surge around NJ sports betting this week in particular.
- Revenue: The Division of Gaming Enforcement releases its June report covering the first 17 days of betting. Casinos took in $16 million in wagers, holding about $3.5 million in revenue.
- PPB + FanDuel: Bookmaker Paddy Power Betfair completes its acquisition of FanDuel, one of the leading daily fantasy sports sites. The US branch of the combined company is now known as the FanDuel Group.
- FanDuel Sportsbook: Northern NJ racetrack Meadowlands sends out invitations announcing the launch of the first-ever FanDuel Sportsbook this Saturday. In partnership with PPB, the state’s fourth sportsbook will open at 11 a.m.
- Online/mobile: The 30-day waiting period for online/mobile betting expires, but operators have yet to begin accepting bets remotely. Read about the partnerships in place for possible clues on a timeline.
- Esports: A networking company called Continent 8 is building data centers in NJ, apparently creating the infrastructure to support an esports hub. Atlantic City is going after the esports industry, and regulations allow bookmakers to offer esports betting.
Meanwhile, the two new properties are off to a rough start in the feedback department. Early customer reviews for both the Ocean Resort Casino and Hard Rock Atlantic City are not great.
Getting max value from sports betting
The finance sector generated the bulk of the headlines outside of NJ this week. New funding and acquisitions provided both real and imaginary valuations for a couple of large companies involved in sports betting.
- DraftKings: In a bid to keep up with its DFS foe, DraftKings is looking to raise $200 million at a $1.5 billion valuation. That valuation seems … bold, given that the cash involved in the recent FanDuel sale was around a third of that number.
- Sportradar: Two new investors drive valuation up to $2.4 billion. That is a true number. Sportradar occupies the overlap between sports data and sports betting, an enviable position in this modern era.
- Stars Group: No valuation here, but The Stars Group completes its acquisition of SkyBet for $4.7 billion, making it the largest public online gaming company in the world.
- GAN: The large UK gaming supplier issues new shares, raising £7.5 million to bolster its endeavors in the US. GAN has secured several US partnerships across multiple social and real-money verticals.
Welcome to two new sports betting challengers
If you’re keeping score, we’re up to nine states that have some form of sports betting legislation and three that are actively accepting wagers. This week, two new ones took their first baby steps down the long and winding road toward legalization:
- Colorado: A bipartisan pair of assemblymen says it’s going to work to get Colorado sports betting legalized. The complicated landscape includes tribal gaming operations and three (remote) commercial casinos, so expect the lawmaking process to take some time.
- Ohio: Another bipartisan pair of senators introduces the very first Ohio sports betting bill. It’s just a placeholder for now, but the one-sentence bill explicitly confirms lawmakers’ intentions to explore the issue this year.
A reminder on the countdown to launch for other states with legal sports betting:
- Mississippi: Rumored for July 21
- West Virginia: Before September 1
- Rhode Island: Around October 1
- Pennsylvania: Perhaps … sometime
Connecticut and New York round out the list, each with a partial law in place and no immediate timeline for launch.
Elsewhere around the industry …
From time to time, we do step away from legislative hearings and earnings calls to talk about the actual activity of placing wagers on sporting events. The betting industry spawned some of the more interesting headlines this week.
- Wimbledon: Allegations of match fixing at Wimbledon once again call into question the integrity of tennis. The sport has an ugly history of betting-related corruption, an issue that’s central to the conversation about integrity fees.
- World Cup: Police in China arrest 42 people after an investigation into a $48 million illegal bookmaking operation. Most of the bets were being placed on soccer’s World Cup.
- Summer League: The NBA Summer League is in Las Vegas, the games are televised on ESPN, and it’s a perfect storm of degeneracy for bettors. It’s also good news for the books, providing a welcomed boost during the summer sports slump.
- The D: Vegas casino owner Derek Stevens — of The D, Golden Gate, “18 Fremont” fame — has hired Matt Metcalf to bring sports betting in-house. William Hill US operates a book at The D, so it’s not clear exactly how the new plan will unfold.
Takes & tidbits
Even with all of that stuff, there are still a few things worth talking about that don’t fit anywhere. A lot of things, in fact. Too many things.
- Bad take: We can’t skip the best bad take of the week! New Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper says sports betting is going to make TV ratings go down. He just has a “feeling” about that. With all due respect, this is utter nonsense.
- Better take: Meanwhile, Monmouth Park boss Dennis Drazin says the sports leagues should be thanking betting operators for driving interest in their games.
- Integrity fees: NBA commish Adam Silver says the league’s bid to collect fees from operators is not going well: “Frankly it’s not a place where we’ve made a lot of progress.”
- Hacking: A tech-savvy Juan Carlos Blanco says the quest for fees could lead leagues to overlook a serious threat to integrity. Hacking and cybercrime jeopardize the data that leagues so desperately seek to protect.
- Lady Luck: Plans for Churchill Downs to purchase Lady Luck Vicksburg (MS) have fallen through, but CDI still intends to acquire Presque Isle Downs in PA. It will also take over operations of Lady Luck Nemacolin from Eldorado Resorts.
- iLottery: An analytical Steve Ruddock lays out why the early success of the PA online lottery is ruffling the feathers of casinos and prospective online gambling operators. They may have some legitimate gripes.
- Senior citizens: Speaking of the PA lottery, a winning Powerball ticket worth $1 million went unclaimed and expired. The money goes into the state’s fund, which is allocated toward assistance programs for the elderly population.
- Student-athletes: A salty Bart Shirley identifies the biggest threat to the integrity of NCAA athletics: The NCAA.
Sports & data
What do World War I, the Chicago grain industry and the Kansas phone book have in common? They’re all related to sports betting, of course. More specifically, they’re related to court battles centered on intellectual property and copyright, a keystone issue for sports betting.
Sports law smart guy John Holden is a regular contributor here, and he’s spent the last few weeks exploring case law relevant to sports betting data. His three-part series is a great read if you’re curious about the legal backdrop.
- Case 1: International News Service v. The Associated Press
- Case 2: Board of Trade of the City of Chicago v. Christie Grain and Stock Company. L.A. Kinsey Company
- Case 3: Feist Publications Inc. v. Rural Telephone Service Co., Inc.
There, that should be plenty to tide you over for a couple days. Have a happy weekend.