Penn National And DraftKings Make Waves
Legal Sports Report

The Week In Sports Betting: Penn National Pulls An ‘MGM’, DraftKings Sportsbook Gets Lonely

Sports betting news Chernin Group

Careful — sports betting news can really sneak up on you if you’re not paying attention.

This week began with a mostly quiet Monday, which rolled lazily over into Tuesday. There was a certain eeriness to the calm, though, and the news machine eventually churned itself into a hurricane once again. By Thursday, the winds were howling. Friday brought a downpour of late-breaking news, and a substantial one, at that.

The bulk of the precipitation originated with Penn National Gaming, but we’ll get to them in a bit. We’ll actually start elsewhere, though, as did the headlines this week.

DraftKings Sportsbook getting lonely

For the second straight week, DraftKings Sportsbook earns the leadoff spot in our recap. One of the country’s newest gambling providers has been the one seeding all those newsclouds over the last 10 days or so.

This week, we found out that DraftKings has an office in San Francisco. Don’t freak out, we had no clue either. That’s its fourth office in the US (Boston, Manhattan, Hoboken), and it wants to open a fifth one in Las Vegas, too. Does that mean DraftKings has plans for Nevada sports betting? That seemed pretty unlikely not so long ago, but who even knows anymore?

It’s also worth noting that DraftKings Sportsbook is still the only mobile option for NJ sports betting. The platform launched on August 1, which seems like ages ago at this pace. To date, it has yet to see a competitor join it in the market. Expect that to change very soon, potentially by the time we do this again next week.

DraftKings Sportsbook has a bit of a short-term problem, too: lack of access into states beyond New Jersey.

More from New Jersey

Speaking of the Garden State, no recap would be complete without a lap around what has become the focal point for US sports betting news in recent months.

This week, the Division of Gaming Enforcement released the July numbers covering the first full month of NJ sports betting. They’re hard to put into context, but they look good in a vacuum — $40 million in total wagers and nearly $4 million in revenue.

The new FanDuel Sportsbook at Meadowlands did the most business despite being open for just 18 days of the month.

That July report included data from five retail sportsbooks, a number that will swell to at least eight before next month’s report. Harrah’s opened its sportsbook on August 1, and two more popped up in Atlantic City this week:

  • Golden Nugget: This is a temporary space which will take up its permanent home inside the old poker room at the end of the month. Operations went live Wednesday, the seventh sportsbook to open in New Jersey.
  • Resorts: Another temporary sportsbook on the Boardwalk makes eight, occupying the space formerly known as the iGaming Lounge. Retail operations are powered by SBTech, and both DraftKings and BetStars have skin deals under Resorts’ license.

News from other states

This week’s NFOS is entirely dominated by two companies — sprawling casino group Penn National and bookmaker William Hill.

  • Pennsylvania: First! At long last, an application for PA sports betting arrives in regulators’ mailboxes. Penn submitted the paperwork for Hollywood Casino and signed on for the $10 million license fee, the first operator in the state to file. If approved, William Hill will run the sportsbook.
  • West Virginia: Same names, different state. Penn’s Hollywood Casino Charles Town confirmed two important details about its plans this week. It will indeed launch WV sports betting on September 1, and it will do so under a partnership with Will Hill. Four of the state’s five casinos have received their interim licenses to operate.
  • Mississippi: Hey look, it’s Penn again. The group announced plans to start offering Mississippi sports betting at its five Gulf Coast casinos soon. There’s no mention of a partner in this press release, but we could venture an educated guess if we had to.
  • Indiana: The Hoosier State makes a rare appearance on the list. It has hired consultants from Eilers & Krejcik to advise lawmakers and regulators working on Indiana sports betting next year.

Finding a dance partner

The majority of sports betting news over the last three months has centered around the formation of operator-supplier partnerships small and large, mostly large.

Nearly every major casino and bookmaking company is working in pursuit of expanded sports betting. One of the county’s largest chains of chicken-wing joints even wants to join the fun.

This week was no exception, with new deals peppering the headlines:

  • Penn National + William Hill: Neither has confirmed the scope, but it seems a near-certainty that these two groups will be partners across the country. The first two deals are confirmed in WV and PA, another batch seems likely in MS, and a broad alliance would match up with previous clues.
  • Hard Rock + Kindred Group: Hard Rock brought a second partner under its NJ umbrella this week. It announced a deal with the Kindred Group, owners of Unibet. That’s yet another major European brand poised to ship itself across the pond. Hard Rock also has a similar deal in place with bet365.
  • Mount Airy + PokerStars: Here’s another fun one for PA. The aforementioned Stars Group has partnered with Mount Airy to launch all forms of online gambling, including BetStars for sports and PokerStars for … well, poker.

Takes and tidbits

Even with all of that news above, there are still a few crumbs left over:

  • CourtDuel: The founders of FanDuel are suing the new owners for more than $100 million. The group of four was left out in the cold during the takeover, with their shares of the company essentially rendered valueless.
  • Hacked: The PGA of America had a systems breach during a recent major golf tournament. The good news is that no scoring data was compromised, and no sports betting operators are mandated to pay the organization or its associated tour to protect said data.
  • Opinion: Analyst Steve Ruddock opines that widespread betting won’t fundamentally change the sports landscape in US. It will have some impact, mind you, but the actual effect is still very much to-be-determined.
  • Hypocrisy: An MLB policy prohibits teams from advertising sports betting companies. That’s fine if that’s how it’s going to be, but the Cincinnati Reds still have a big DraftKings billboard posted in the outfield. Someone should let them know that DraftKings is a sports betting company now?
  • Survey says: A new poll indicates that bettors in states with legal sports gambling are mostly willing to give up their offshore sites and personal bookmakers.
  • SuperBook: The Westgate is looking to turn its annual sports betting tournament into a national brand. It is a great concept and something that other operators will likely adopt, but it’s not clear if the brand will work as a standalone product outside Las Vegas.

That looks like about it for the week. Fin. We’ll see you all again on Monday.

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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