The Week In Sports Betting: A Sixth State Joins In The West, Hearings Galore Out East

Written By Eric Ramsey on October 20, 2018
Sports betting news

The two-day football holiday is here after another week dense with sports betting news. Last week’s Global Gaming Expo (G2E) put a damper on the pace, but headlines were back with a vengeance and didn’t slow down right through Friday evening.

A great many things happened this week, so much that we haven’t yet written about what was arguably the biggest piece of news. On Friday, Horseshoe Baltimore announced itself as the official casino partner of the Baltimore Ravens. It’s the second such deal between a casino and an NFL team.

Also, New Mexico became the sixth state with a legal sportsbook inside its borders. That’s pretty huge news, too, especially considering sports betting remains illegal under NM law.

We’ll explain in a second, but we’ll start near Chicago, where a marathon legislative hearing put sports betting in the spotlight.

Illinois subcommittees tackle sports betting

Clocking in at nearly five hours, the Illinois gambling expansion hearing took up a significant chunk of the week. And sports betting took up a significant chunk of the hearing.

A pair of House subcommittees met to discuss a two-year-old bill that has morphed into an omnibus effort to modernize gambling in the state. In addition to a casino in Chicago, the effort would authorize online casinos and daily fantasy sports alongside single-game wagering.

Everybody and their bookie testified before the subcommittees, including representatives from leagues, teams and players’ associations. The latter group is seeking ownership over biometric data, including physical metrics and individual health. Move over integrity fee, as official league data has become the primary battleground for those seeking control over the industry.

Illinois lawmakers seem to have a serious appetite for sports betting, asking all the right questions about regulation and implementation. One of the key proponents, Rep. Lou Lang, did offer conditional support for league fees, provided the state receives something of value in return.

Interestingly, a lack of chatter about online casino and poker may bode well for their inclusion and passage. Expect Illinois to be at the leading edge of the conversation into 2019.

News from other states (and districts!)

Once again, we had to broaden the title of this recurring section to include the fine folks in the District of Columbia. DC sports betting was the subject of its own hearing this week, joined by another in the midwest.

  • Indiana: Two Indiana sports betting bills are lodged in the Public Policy committee, which met Friday to discuss their merits. Kudos to NBA counsel Dan Spillane for facing the legislative music once again, returning to the home of the integrity fee to ask for an updated royalty fee.
  • DC: Councilmember Jack Evans is spearheading an effort to bring sports betting to the District in 2019. Since it has no casinos within its boundaries, DC sports betting would be conducted at bars, restaurants, and the five sports arenas. Ted Leonsis, who owns two professional DC sports franchises, is all aboard the efforts.

It’s probably time to talk about New Mexico, huh?

On Tuesday, the Santa Ana Star opened a brick-and-mortar sportsbook powered by USBookmaking. Tribal compacts allow the Pueblo of Santa Ana to offer sports betting despite the standing prohibition in state law. They’ve occupied their land since the dang 1500s, after all, so…

Numbers from WV and PA

West Virginia sports betting numbers update weekly, but new breakdowns by operator gave us some fresh insights.

Hollywood Casino is mashing it, responsible for nearly all of the betting activity so far. Its William Hill sportsbook has won about $2.3 million on more than $9 million in tickets since opening. On-site wagering at The Greenbrier is negligible, but partner FanDuel Sportsbook intends to launch its online/mobile platform soon.

Total wagers in WV hover right around $10 million to date, which seems like a good start through six weeks. The state projects $5.5 million in tax revenue, so handle needs to approach $1 billion to meet first-year expectations.

Pennsylvania snuck some numbers out this week too, but they were for DFS. Operators earned about $2.1 million from in-state customers during the first month of football season. That should bode well for sports betting, presumably.

Speaking of that, PA sports betting should go live soon — maybe even before the end of the year. Here’s everything we know so far.

Takes and tidbits

If you sat through the half-dozen hearings, studied the numbers reports and watched the launch of a new state … well, bless your heart. But you still would have missed a few morsels of news from around the industry. We didn’t even talk about New Jersey sports betting yet. Or Nevada, for that matter.

Here, let’s fix that:

  • SugarHouse jumps ship: One NJ online sportsbook is switching partners. According to reports and astute bettors, SugarHouse is moving from Golden Nugget to Monmouth Park to escape the prohibition on NBA betting underneath the GN umbrella.
  • Integ-royal-ity fee?: The aforementioned leagues are struggling to stay on message about these pesky fees. While lawyers make a clear effort to pitch it as a “royalty,” Adam Silver is complicating the task by using the old terminology in public comments.
  • Oh, William: In a letter to Nevada regulators, William Hill asks for their discretion to rescind wagers placed under erroneous pricing. This is a reasonable request in response to the FanDuel glitch, but it doesn’t really help dispel their customer-unfriendly reputation.
  • Doing it remotely: Staying right there, a group of casinos asked regulators to remove the requirement for in-person registration from online/mobile Nevada sports betting platforms. It was those casinos that initially supported that provision to get folks in the building, but … well, times they are a’changing.
  • Betting on the stars: More from Nevada, as regulators consider allowing bets on exotic markets, like the Grammys. Or hot-dog eating or whatever. Regardless of the market, integrity must come above all else.
  • Skill game: As sports betting picks up momentum, the same can be said of skill-based casino games. A company called Gamblit is among those offering video-gaming products that could act as a nice complement to sportsbooks.

Continuing that line of thinking about gambling as a social activity, you should expect to see exponential growth in the popularity of sports betting kiosks. And the functionality. A number of companies had their newest terminals on display at G2E, including Scientific Games.

Here’s what theirs looks like, via the exciting Legal Sports Report YouTube channel:

It may surprise you to see video where you’ve expected audio in the past, but ta-da.

Don’t worry, though. The TheLines Podcast is 26 episodes deep and still going strong. This week’s show includes an interview with Matt Stetz from SugarHouse and a spirited debate about whether the NBA product is any good.

Have a happy weekend, y’all.

Eric Ramsey Avatar
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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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