Two partnerships last week; six more this week

The Week In Sports Betting: Sports And Gambling Tighten Their Embrace

Sports betting partnerships

With the disclaimer that your writer is sometimes prone to hyperbole, thus concludes one of the busiest weeks of sports betting news since the US Supreme Court decision in May. It’s hard to exaggerate, though. Even Congressional-subcommittee-hearing week didn’t have much on this one.

In addition to impending launches in both Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, it’s also earnings season for publicly traded gambling companies. As you’d expect, the expansion of sports betting has been a focal point of investors’ calls across the industry.

But really, this week was about one thing alone — the sudden breakout of sports/gambling partnerships. Let’s recap what we can in brief. Brace yourself, though; there is a bunch to get through.

Sports and betting: perfect partners

After a tentative feeling-out period, the sports industry is beginning to embrace the sports betting industry in a meaningful way. This week’s news was one long chain of partnership announcements — both at the league and team level — involving sportsbooks and gambling companies.

MGM might not be done, either. During its Q3 call, CEO Jim Murren said the company is in discussions with “a vast number” of other teams. Here’s more on this week’s announcements:

Do you know the way to PA?

It’s still tough to tell exactly how near the starting line is, but Pennsylvania is moving purposefully toward the launch of legal sports betting and online gambling.

This week, regulators approved PA sports betting petitions for three more casinos — Harrah’s Philadelphia, SugarHouse and Rivers. The last two are Rush Street Gaming properties with plans to open their sportsbooks on Dec. 1., though mutual supplier Kambi is not yet approved.

That’s now five authorized sportsbooks, though, adding to previous permits for Parx and Hollywood Casino.

William Hill quite notably received its permit to operate as the supplier for the latter, satisfying a major launch condition. Timelines are still TBD, but Hollywood says it could have a book up and running before Thanksgiving. Construction is well under way.

Parx is spending $10 million to build out its massive sportsbook while also waiting on Kambi’s approval.

Churchill Downs has not yet applied as it works to finalize the acquisition of Presque Isle Downs and Lady Luck Nemacolin, but it will. During the CHDN call, CEO Bill Carstanjen indicated they’re aiming to launch their SBTech platform in Q1 2019.

Here’s everything else we know about the PA interactive industry-in-waiting, including online gambling.

A lap around the map

Those partnerships and the PA Gaming Control Board meeting occupied the bulk of the headlines, but plenty of betting news originated elsewhere, too. There was even a big decision for daily fantasy sports in one key state, a rare thing these days.

Since we have about one big story out of each, let’s just lump everyone else together here:

  • New York: Fantasy sports are gambling, says a judge in NY, and the law that excluded them as “games of skill” violates the state constitution. An anti-gambling group has successfully argued that lawmakers can not pass such laws without voter approval. The state will appeal the decision, and the landscape remains unchanged for the moment.
  • Nevada: September was a wildly impressive month for Nevada sports betting. Books took in $571 million in wagers, churning out $56 million in revenue. Both are all-time records for the state, which has offered legal sports betting since the 1940s.
  • Virginia: The growth of legal sports betting in its neighborhood has Virginia making its own moves. A new effort is under way to push legislation through in the first half of 2019, racing with its neighbors in the District of Columbia.
  • Colorado: The Colorado legislature, on the other hand, is slowing its roll on sports betting. Although the attorney general says it’s unnecessary from a legal standpoint, lawmakers want to leave the matter in voters’ hands via referendum.
  • Arkansas: Speaking of referendums, by the time we do this next week, Arkansas voters will have decided the future of sports betting in their state. The proposed constitutional amendment to legalize the industry is listed as Issue 4 on the ballot.
  • Florida: While we’re here, it’s worth mentioning the other state with gambling on its midterm ballot. Amendment 3 has drawn support from the deep pockets of Disney and the Seminole Tribe of Florida, as it would hinder any future expansion of gambling in the state. FanDuel and the Poker Alliance are among the groups opposed.

Takes and tidbits

A bunch of big stories consumed all but a few tiny crumbs of news this week, but they’re still worth a quick nibble.

  • Taking a bath: Boy, it’s been a rough stretch for bookmakers, including a few big payouts from FanDuel Sportsbook. In addition to posting a six-figure loss on the World Series, it paid out two CFB parlays totaling almost $300,000 last weekend.
  • The Answer: NBA great Allen Iverson is the new spokesperson for PointsBet, a sportsbook startup out of Australia. The site is promoting a free-to-play $1 million contest to announce its entry into the US market.
  • Golfer 1 vs. Golfer 2: Some of the hype surrounding the upcoming Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson golf match has cooled, but sportsbooks should have a good time with the one-off event during turkey weekend. Chops put together an amusing list of props he’d like to see on the board on Black Friday.

The guys on TheLines Podcast did what they do this week, too, running through the news on the 28th (and arguably best-ever) episode. Have a listen if you’re so inclined:

That’s all, y’all. Have a happy weekend. And remember that Todd Gurley doesn’t care about your betting tickets and DFS lineups.

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.