Recapping an overflowing week of sports betting news

The Week In Sports Betting: So Much News, So Few Days In A Week

Sports betting news recap

Y’all, what the heck is going on?

Remember last week? Remember when we took a relaxing stroll down a happy little trail of minor sports betting headlines? A six-figure investment in a multimedia network was, like, the biggest talking point. “Not much has changed between this week and last,” I wrote. Do you remember?!

That is … yeah, that is not the case this week.

Literally — and I mean this in the literal sense — every day featured one or more enormous chunks of breaking news. Given that one of our goals is to keep this weekly summary brief, we have our hands full this time. It’s not even clear where we should begin.

Fortunately for our chances at brevity, a few of the biggest headlines originated from the same company. Let’s start with you, MGM.

MGM does all of the things

MGM Resorts International dominated the headlines, which is saying something this week. The giant casino company appears to have plans for sports betting that are quite serious going forward.

Look at these new partnerships:

  • NBA: MGM becomes the official gaming partner of the NBA, the first such agreement between a US bookmaker and a sports league. The implications are too numerous to list here, but the highlight from the NBA’s perspective is the payment it will receive for its official data feed. Get the full scoop here.
  • Boyd Gaming: MGM forms a market-access partnership with Boyd, giving the casino duo a foothold in 15 states. The majority of those states are involved heavily in the sports betting conversation.
  • GVC: MGM partners with GVC, one of the largest gambling companies in the world. Under the $200 million agreement, GVC will deploy one or more of its sports betting brands in the US, with access to every state in the MGM/Boyd portfolio.

That list would represent a busy year of news for most operators, and MGM announced the three deals within three days. Expect MGM to tighten its grip on sports betting as the industry continues to sprout across the US.

Mississippi sports betting goes live

In any other week, the launch of Mississippi sports betting would have been the headline news. This was not any other week, though.

On Wednesday, the first of the state’s 28 casinos opened their betting windows. Former football players Willis McGahee and Robert Royal were among the celebrities who placed ceremonial first bets at Beau Rivage.

The law restricts gambling (and sports betting) to physical establishments, so folks must visit their friendly neighborhood casino to bet. Properties are permitted to offer limited mobile wagering in the future, but only on-site at a casino.

Just like that, Mississippi becomes the fourth state with legal sports betting, joining Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey. Welcome to the party!

Howdy, partner

MGM stole the show, but it wasn’t the only operator making moves this week. Although NJ sports betting was the focal point, a long list of new partnerships has implications for nearly every gambling market in the country:

  • Stars Group: The largest publicly traded gaming company in the world confirmed it will launch sports betting in NJ. The BetStars brand will be deployed under the license of Resorts AC, rounding out a long-standing partnership between the two.
  • Caesars: The Vegas-based casino giant announced a new deal with Scientific Games to supply sports betting for NJ and MS. Caesars opened its first two sportsbooks in Atlantic City this week, and it disclosed plans to merge its online sports betting and casino platforms into one.
  • William Hill: The large European bookmaker is advancing through its long-term plan in the US. On Friday, it announced sports betting agreements with 11 casinos in MS and one in West Virginia. Will Hill is the only company supplying bookmaking services in all four states with legal sports betting, and it has 14 more of them in its sights.
  • FanDuel: The DFS giant also joined an alliance with Boyd this week. Under that direct deal and the partnership by association with MGM, the FanDuel Sportsbook now has a point of entry into more than a dozen states.
  • Parx: Under a new partnership with GAN, the leading casino in Pennsylvania firms up plans to offer PA sports betting. GAN is another very large, business-facing supplier based in Europe, and Parx is the first PA casino to make public preparations for launch.

DraftKings first to mobile in NJ

On Wednesday evening, the DraftKings Sportsbook went live for desktop and mobile devices in NJ. The app is absolutely stunning, but the launch has left room for improvement. More on that below.

One has to wonder how these big casinos and bookmakers could let two daily fantasy sports companies set the pace for sports betting expansion. The DFS leader has grabbed the reins in NJ, becoming the first operator to book a wager placed on a smartphone.

MGM and Caesars expect to launch their mobile platforms in NJ over the coming days.

The leftovers

With a meal this big, you simply must take a second helping. Here’s the rest of the news that we couldn’t let go to waste this week:

  • DraftKings: The app might be great, but the prices are not. Not at all. The launch of DraftKings Sportsbook is marred by lines that are uncompetitive and borderline insulting. Sports betting Twitter is unimpressed, and FairwayJay is unconvinced that the pricing issues are rooted in ignorance.
  • FanDuel: Speaking of pricing issues, the growing pains continue for DraftKings’ primary competitor. A “temporary issue” with the feed generates insulting golf lines at the FanDuel Sportsbook. They’re quickly adjusted, but this early hiccup is at least the third in the first month.
  • Hambo: Saturday is Hambletonian Day, a big day for horse betting at Meadowlands in NJ. With a bit of innovation, the property will allow bettors to parlay horses and humans on the same ticket this weekend.
  • Tiger vs. Lefty: A sports bettor’s dream come true. Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson confirm preliminary details of their $10 million match at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas. Golf fans and bettors can expect to have a very happy Thanksgiving weekend.
  • David Tepper: The exceedingly wealthy owner of the Carolina Panthers made our list of bad takes a couple weeks ago for his “feeling” that sports betting would hurt NFL TV ratings. This week, we learned that Tepper’s hedge fund has been scooping up stock in Caesars, MGM and Boyd. Hmph!
  • Official data: There is some debate within the industry regarding the value of official league data. Marc Meltzer speculates about the benefits that official NBA data could bring for MGM in their new partnership.
  • TheLines: If you want some more context on these stories, the guys on TheLines Podcast spent an hour talking through the news. It’s our favorite podcast, though we are admittedly biased. “Subscribe, rate, review,” as host Matt Brown says.

You can’t possibly have room left for dessert, so go ahead and slide back from the table. Easy does it. Perhaps we’ll be able to keep the serving size a little more manageable for you next week. Don’t count on it, though.

Enjoy your weekend.

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.