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The Week In Sports Betting: And Then There Were Five …

Delaware North

We’ve reached the end of another dense week of sports betting news, and a three-day weekend has arrived for those of us in the US. Some of you might even have snuck out the door a few minutes early to get ready for the evening’s college football games. And who could blame you?

We’ll see if the news machine decides to honor the holiday, but the smart money doesn’t see it happening. If next week is anything like this one, it won’t. This recap tries to hit the highlights in a relatively concise way, so keep reading if that sounds like your cup of tea.

There’s no question where we should begin this week. As of Thursday, beautiful West Virginia is the fifth state with a legal sports betting industry.

Let’s go there …

The green rolling hills of WV sports betting

Things have happened briskly for WV sports betting. Although it was the first state to legalize sports betting this year, things were mostly quiet until this month. In the span of a few weeks, however, regulators published rules for sports betting, vetted applications for four casinos and multiple suppliers, and began issuing licenses.

And now, the betting windows are officially open.

Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races opened its William Hill sportsbook two days ahead of schedule Thursday morning. No surprise: the state’s first legal ticket was a bet on WVU football to win the National Championship this season.

NFL legend and commentator Joe Theismann will be Hollywood’s guest of honor for the opening ceremonies Saturday. Neither Lawrence Taylor nor Gov. Jim Justice are likely invited to the proceedings.

Welcome aboard, West Virginia.

Of note, both FanDuel Sportsbook and DraftKings Sportsbook have received interim licenses to offer WV sports betting. The former is partnered with The Greenbrier, while the latter is still looking for a dance partner.

News from other states

There’s just the right amount of NFOS to lump it all together into one section. Here’s what happened outside of West Virginia this week:

  • Pennsylvania: Second! The owners of Parx file sports betting applications for both their flagship casino and an OTB near the Philadelphia stadium complex. Greenwood Gaming & Entertainment is the second operator to apply for the $10 million PA sports betting permit.
  • Rhode Island: The projected launch date for RI sports betting is slippin’ into the future. Regulators issue a press release confirming IGT and William Hill as suppliers, but they’re pushing their original Oct. 1 projections back into November.
  • Nevada: Regulators publish monthly revenue numbers, and they’re abnormally good. Despite some especially tight margins, NV sports betting operators held about $4 million on a record-setting $245 million in total July wagers.
  • Kentucky: The nine-member panel tasked in June with studying sports betting is doing quick work. The group is apparently close to finalizing the KY sports betting bill it plans to introduce for 2019, including provisions for online/mobile wagering.
  • Texas: It’ll probably be a while before the Lone Star State makes this list for sports betting, but it did spawn some DFS news this week. FanDuel has returned to the big market, following a two-year absence during which the legality of Texas fantasy sports has remained unresolved.
  • New Jersey: More of an FYI here: PlayNJ has a complete list of locations and apps for NJ sports betting, if you’re shopping around at the start of football season.

If you want to keep track of the progress toward legal sports betting in your state, this handy-dandy map is a good resource, too.

DraftKings and FanDuel

The two largest daily fantasy sports operators are neck-and-neck in the race to capture a sports betting audience.

FanDuel has a retail sportsbook open in New Jersey and market-access deals into well over a dozen states. This week, sources told PlayPennsylvania that it has partnered with Valley Forge in PA, capitalizing on its new partnership with Boyd Gaming.

It is, however, still lacking an online/mobile product that it could have introduced into two states by now. Legal Sports Report demoed the FanDuel Sportsbook early this week — so it must be nearly ready — but launch did not come before the holiday weekend.

FanDuel also had a strange false start with the rollout of its new content delivery platform, The Duel.

DraftKings does not have its logo on a retail sportsbook yet, but it was the first NJ operator to launch an online/mobile betting client. Its short-term reach appears to be limited, though, lacking the requisite combination of license and casino partner in all states not named New Jersey.

What it does have — or is about to have — is cash. DraftKings is reportedly approaching its goal of raising $200 million at a $1.5 billion valuation. The investor(s) is/are unknown, but DraftKings will no doubt use the funding to strengthen its sports betting position.

Another thing it has is a partnership with Buffalo Wild Wings. Rumors of a sports betting alliance have not materialized, but DraftKings will create a custom Blazin’ Fantasy Football DFS game for all 1,200 BW3 locations.

Takes and tidbits

There are actually a ton of leftovers this week, the crumbs that we like to scrape together down here at the bottom. Some of this week’s crumbs were pretty substantial, too.

  • Boomer, SchumerSen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) seems to be taking the Congressional baton from the retiring Orrin Hatch. Schumer drafts a league-friendly framework for sports betting legislation, urging state and federal lawmakers to follow his lead.
  • The league of leagues: Five US sports leagues (NCAA, NBA, NFL, MLBPGA Tour) break into a chorus of support for Sen. Schumer’s framework. Which … I just told you it was a “league-friendly” thing, so this should come as no surprise. It’s almost certain they’ve been chatting with the senator behind the scenes.
  • Buy or sell: A piece from CNNMoney uses the downward trend of US casino stocks to postulate that they’re bad investments amid sports betting expansion. According to Joss Wood, that’s just flat-out wrong.
  • Off the rails: Sports law professor John Holden cautions against careless growth in the sports betting industry. Holden runs through five potential problems that could derail momentum.
  • It’s just math: Guest writer David Copeland talks about one of the things we don’t talk about much. The rewards from sports betting may well be large, but so are the costs involved with supplying a quality product to bettors.
  • DFS: NFL player Richard Sherman is the co-founder of a startup daily fantasy sports app called Daily Number. It takes a unique approach to DFS, and the product and ad campaign with Sherman are live just in time for football season.
  • CBS: At NFL media day, a CBS Sports executive tells reporters that the network’s announcers will avoid talking about gambling during broadcasts. That’s probably not the worst idea given the patchwork legality and the lack of fluent sports betting knowledge from most commentators.
  • JFC: I won’t copy/paste the last bullet point from last week, but guess what? Someone else cited lines they shouldn’t have this week. The Washington Examiner lists offshore lines regarding President Donald Trump in a piece that is subsequently paraded around Twitter by the White House Director of Social Media.

And now you know … the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey would say.

That’s all we’ve got for you this week because football is about to start. Enjoy your holiday weekend. We’ll see you on Monday or Tuesday or something.

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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