All the partnerships for MGM Resorts

The Week In Sports Betting: MGM, NHL, Southern Voters All Want In On The Action

Sports betting news

We’re approaching the six-month anniversary of the day the US Supreme Court struck down the federal ban on sports betting. Did you pick out a gift for Justice Samuel Alito yet?

Although speculating on sports is as old as money, much has changed since May 14. Professional sports leagues and teams are suddenly warming up to the emerging market, spawning an escalation in partnerships between the industries.

That’s where we begin our Friday recap once again, right in that overlap between sports and sports gambling …

NHL partners with FanDuel, too

For the second consecutive week, Monday led with news of a big NHL gambling partnership. The same league that tried to curtail legal betting in Las Vegas last year — the same one that said hockey “doesn’t lend itself to gambling” — has been among the most willing to accept money from casinos and sportsbooks.

Last week, it was an extension of its relationship with MGM Resorts to include the use of official league data and other league assets. This week, the NHL agreed to a dance with FanDuel.

The two are now official partners across both sports betting and daily fantasy sports, though only the latter is exclusive. Details on implementation are somewhat vague, but FanDuel will run promotions for special NHL events, like the All-Star Game and Winter Classic.

Here’s a fun nugget: The NHL still has an equity stake in DraftKings, the primary competitor of its new partner. In a statement to LSR, DraftKings confirmed that the relationship remains unchanged.

FanDuel also announced a deal with the New Jersey Devils that includes an on-ice branding presence at Prudential Center. The Devils have additional gambling partnerships with both Caesars and William Hill.

Voters decide on sports betting, other gambling

The US midterm elections were the big news this week in the mainstream, and they’ll leave a lasting imprint on the gambling landscape. Related measures appeared as ballot proposals in several states, including a big step for one in the South.

On Tuesday, Arkansas became the newest state to legalize sports betting. A majority — 54 percent — of the voting public said yes to Issue 4, which creates constitutional authorization at four locations. Regulators are required to begin fielding applications by June of next year, so a 2019 launch seems possible.

Louisiana voters had a DFS measure on their ballot at the parish level (comparable to counties in most states). Of the 64 parishes, 47 approved legalizing fantasy sports, enough to cover more than 90 percent of the state’s population.

Two measures tied to gambling also passed in Florida:

  • Amendment 3 gives voters exclusive control over future gambling expansion in the state.
  • Amendment 13 requires the state to phase out pari-mutuel greyhound racing by 2020.

Here’s the full rundown of ballot measures in those three states, plus a handful of others. Get your bingo blotters ready, Missouri.

Keeping the investors happy

This week also falls within the Q3 reporting window for publicly traded gambling companies. Earnings calls often shed a great deal of light on plans and performance. That’s certainly the case this quarter, with US sports betting basking in the spotlight for groups based here and abroad.

Here is a handful of things that stuck out in the reports:

  • MGM: The casino giant is going to be a force in the US sports betting industry, having already partnered with the NBA and NHL. A highlight of the MGM call was the disclosure that it is in sponsorship discussions with “a vast number of teams.
  • Caesars: The other US casino giant has been getting similarly active in the world of sponsorships. Caesars spoke about its ongoing efforts in sports betting, boasting the sort of broad footprint that is advantageous in an expanding market.
  • Churchill Downs: The horse racing leader had plenty to talk about during its report. CDI told investors it is preparing to offer sports betting in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey, possibly within the year.
  • Kindred Group: The owners of the Unibet brand spoke about their plans in the US, which include a sports betting deal with Hard Rock Atlantic City. It seems possible that an online casino/poker product could follow in NJ.
  • Paddy Power Betfair: The new owners of FanDuel gushed about the value of the brand to their expanding group. US revenues are up 22 percent for the quarter, and the CEO muted concerns over cannibalization between DFS and betting.

Takes and tidbits

Given all of the political and corporate news this week, we’ll bypass the scenic tour through NJ sports betting and divert our anxious gaze toward the PA sports betting industry in incubation. We were even going to mention these new kiosks from Kambi, but we’ll skip those, too.

Let’s lump the rest of the news crumbs together and call it a week, huh?

  • Pools party: DraftKings Sportsbook launched a new game format called Pools, which will look familiar to anyone who’s filled out an office pick’em card. Another nod to the casual bettor, Pools are essentially parlay contests with fixed entry fees and a tiered payout structure.
  • Hey Dolfans: Leading up to the decision on Amendment 3 in Florida, the Miami Dolphins sent out a call to action. In a since-deleted tweet, the Dolphins urged fans to “protect their right to legally bet on sports” by voting no.
  • Lil Rhody: Mighty Rhode Island is finally getting close to launching its own state-regulated industry. A spokesperson for the two Twin River casinos said their first sportsbook should be up and running around Thanksgiving.
  • A fork in the road: You may have noticed that sports leagues and teams have been scooping up millions of dollars from sports betting despite no mandate to work with the industry. As Adam Candee explains, that makes it awfully tough for league representatives still trying to make the case for integrity fees and royalties.
  • A soak in the bath: It has been a rough stretch for sportsbooks, and this past weekend was no better. Public NFL sides somehow went 11-0 against the spread on Sunday, with Las Vegas books losing an estimated $7-10 million.
  • Rook g5 (-200): Apparently, lots of folks are betting on chess. Unibet says it expects handle for the FIDE World Chess Championship this month to exceed some World Cup matches.

And lest we get caught up in the fun and practicality of legal sports betting and its intrinsic benefits to other industries, remember that early-adopting states and casinos are the big winners so far. New Jersey has already collected more than $4 million in taxes from its new industry, and Atlantic City’s credit rating is suddenly rebounding.

That’s all they wrote this week, but you can get the audio version of the news via TheLines Podcast. This week’s episode is the 29th in the series and easily the best to date. Maybe. Alright, it’s not the worst.

Have a good weekend, y’all.

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.