Empire Resorts, Inc., now an affiliate of bet365 Group Limited (bet365) and Resorts World Catskills today revealed a “strategic alliance” to join the rapidly expanding sports wagering business space in the U.S. by creating a physical and online sportsbook in New York State.
Sports wagering is not now legal in New York, however, rules and accompanying regulations are expected to come under close examination by New York State lawmakers in 2019, Democratic State Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow (89th District) told Sports Handle in an interview last week. Pretlow is the state lawmaker sponsoring enabling legislation that would legalize full-fledged sports betting in the state.
Resorts World Catskills in Kiamesha Lake, on the site of the former Concord Hotel, a “Borscht Belt” landmark, is New York’s newest and largest integrated commercial casino resort destination with closest proximity to Manhattan. Empire, as a bet365 affiliate company, is part of the world’s largest online sports bookmaker. The parties said in a media release that their deal 20-year agreement would become effective when permitted by applicable law.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s monumental decision in May to strike down the long-standing federal law banning full-fledged sports wagering outside Nevada, has opened up legal sports betting to states across the country.
Already New Jersey and Mississippi and its residents (and neighbors) have enjoyed the fruits of their new and growing markets, with other states in earlier stages or nearing a launch. Many more are expected to come on board in 2019.
As new sports wagering platforms are being developed and new kinds of partnerships explored, a wide range of industries are well-positioned to benefit greatly from the massive revenue potential in this marketplace.
1. Fantasy Sports
New opportunities abound in this sector. From opening proprietary sportsbooks and developing betting apps to entering into partnerships with casinos, sports bars, and media companies, fantasy sports enterprises are ready to meet the increasing demand resulting from expanded legalized betting. While there are two clear leaders in this space, DraftKings and FanDuel — which by the way blew out the competition in September in New Jersey — it’s likely that new or smaller players will emerge as the market expands.
2. Social Media
Sports betting and social media go hand-in-hand. With a smartphone in the pockets of practically everyone, an increasing number of people are likely to follow games on mobile. Also many bettors will begin or already do follow sports reporters and “handicappers” on social media, meaning it will only grow as an essential tool in making an educated pregame and in-game wager. Additionally, a significant number of online sportsbooks and other companies are now using social media platforms as a marketing and advertising tool, thereby creating yet another revenue stream with the potential for massive expansion.
After the Supreme Court decision was announced, billionaire Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said he believed the value of professional sports franchises were doubled as a result of the ruling. Although some may consider this hyperbole, there are others who think the statement was too low, with predictions that the amount of cash about to hit the sports gambling market is actually being underestimated. The related opportunities for media and television companies are enormous, as a 2016 Nielsen Sports study found that although sports betters composed just 25% of the NFL viewing audience, they accounted for 47% of the time spent watching games. If you have money riding on a game, you’re likely to watch more than twice as much as non-gamblers.
And the media industry is listening. ESPN+ is airing a gambling-focused show by The Action Network, “I’ll Take That Bet,” featuring personalities picking their top 10 bets. FS1 went a step further by launching a daily sports gambling show called “Lock It In” with known betting personalities. Another concept involves in-game micro-wagering, which is expected to grow exponentially as states adopt sports gambling. Current delays between the sites of live sporting events and transmission to viewers have curtailed play-by-play wagering on some sports. It’s expected that technology firms will quickly develop real-time picture-and-sound transmission to allow this revenue potential to be fully realized.
National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman on Monday announced that the league struck a multi-year sponsorship agreement with MGM Resorts International (MGM), making the gaming and entertainment giant an official sports betting partner of the NHL. This follows a similar announcement by the National Basketball Association in July, where the NBA presented MGM as the NBA’s official gaming partner.
The NHL deal, aside from designating MGM as an official partner, will allow MGM use of the NHL’s trademarks in connection with sports wagering at its properties internationally, as well as access to “official league data” including advanced data — some of which is still getting hammered out in the lab.
“The data we’re in the process of inventing is a process that’s been ongoing,” Bettman said. “It wasn’t our vision to develop it for sports betting, but as a broadcast enhancement to bring fans closer to the game.”
Sportnet’s Chris Johnston, a Toronto-based hockey insider for the NHL Network and a senior hockey writer for Sportnet, a Canadian equivalent of ESPN, said via Twitter, “The NHL has decided to dive head-first into the sports betting business. Official partnership(s) to be announced at a Monday morning press conference in New York. Word I’m hearing is “we’re going all in.”
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman sent out a media advisory Friday alerting news outlets that he’ll speak at a Monday news conference in New York City.
No Further Information Yet Released on NHL’s Sports Betting Move, But Bettman’s Presence Appears to Guarantee Some Importance to the News Conference.
In July the NBA and commissioner Adam Silver announced at a news conference in New York a 3-year, $25 million marketing and data deal with MGM Resorts International. The non-exclusive arrangement largely focuses on marketing, but does grant MGM access to the league’s official data feed.
Following in the Dallas Cowboys’ footsteps, the Baltimore Ravens have forged an official partnership with the Horseshoe Casino Baltimore, becoming the second NFL team to strike such an agreement since the league decided in September to permit marketing deals between casinos and its teams.
The Horseshoe Casino, a Caesars Entertainment property, is walking distance to the Raven’s M&T Bank Stadium — less than a mile down Warner street.
Ravens and Caesars executives announced the deal on Friday alongside Ravens’ Hall of Fame left tackle Jonathan Ogden. Like the Cowboys’ deal with the WinStar World Casino in Oklahoma, the second-of-its-kind deal designating a casino as an official team partner will permit the Horseshoe to use the Ravens’ team marks and logos for on-site promotions, according to the release on the Ravens’ website.
It was not that long ago here in the United States that the idea of professional sports teams partnering with casinos, sportsbooks or online betting sites would seem as likely as seeing a dog and cat dancing the Merengue together. Part of the reason was the federal ban on sports wagering and of course the fear by the sports leagues that relationships with gaming houses would somehow taint their sport and cast a shady image on them. But wow, what a difference a Supreme Court ruling can make.
Though it was years in the making and purely a by-product of the nationwide acceptance of gaming as an everyday form of recreation that the pall and image of gambling being a back room, mob run shady operation was lifted. That lift of the social stigma fostered a change of image for gambling and probably as much as the facts of law inspired the Supreme Court to recognize and overturn the federal ban on sports wagering.
While the Court’s ruling returned certain state’s rights of self-determination, it also helped tip national acceptance of wagering as a legitimate business and made it very possible for professional sports teams and gambling houses to engage in various types of marketing relationships.
Displaying assurance in their Rhode Island alliance and the probability that many states will operate sports betting through current lottery operations, IGT Global Solutions Corporation, a wholly-owned subsidiary of International Game Technology and William Hill U.S., a subsidiary of William Hill revealed Tuesday they have entered into a multi-year agreement to offer U.S. lotteries a full service solution for sports betting.
In late August, the Rhode Island Lottery chose IGT and William Hill to jointly run its sports betting operation under the state lottery umbrella. IGT, the long-time lottery contractor in Rhode Island with brick-and mortar offices in Providence, is using its sports betting platform with William Hill serving as risk manager.
Rhode Island Lottery officials project that sports betting operations are not expected to be up and running at the state’s two casino locations until mid-November, well into the NFL and college football season.
In a surprise announcement late Tuesday, William Hill and Eldorado Resorts jointly revealed they had reached a wide-ranging partnership agreement through which the British-controlled bookmaking giant would operate all the major regional casino company’s sportsbook operations in the U.S., and that Eldorado would take a 20 percent stake in William Hill’s U.S. operation, as well as a minor stake in the company’s worldwide operation.
Word of the deal was first reported by the British news outlet Sky News. Soon after the Sky News report, an official statement was released to the media.
William Hill and Eldorado are calling the agreement “a nationwide partnership for digital and land-based sports betting and online gaming in the United States.” William Hill now becomes Eldorado’s exclusive partner in the provision of digital and land-based sports betting services as well as online gaming. The online gaming element to the deal is apparently a new wrinkle in William Hill’s U.S. business model, which had previously focused strictly on sports wagering.
Wide-Ranging Partnership Between William Hill and Eldorado Resorts Puts Bookmaker Into 11 States for Mobile and Retail Sports Betting
The spate of brand and technology alliances in the new national sports betting industry continues with the announcement late Thursday that Las Vegas-based Boyd Gaming Corporation and the FanDuel Group, the Paddy Power Betfair subsidiary, have entered into a strategic partnership to “pursue sports betting and online gaming opportunities across the United States.”
Earlier in the week, Boyd announced an alliance with MGM Resorts International that would allow the two major casino operators in Southern Nevada and now in an expanding number of regional gaming markets nationally, to facilitate sports betting in states where one company is licensed and the other is not.
Boyd Gaming is one of the largest companies in the gaming industry and, after completion of two pending acquisitions (Valley Forge in Pennsylvania and four former Pinnacle properties), will operate 29 casinos across 10 states.
FanDuel Sportsbook Finds Another Partner In Boyd Gaming to Pursue Opportunities Across U.S. Sports Betting States
Boyd has a rich history in the world of sports betting as owner of the Stardust on the Las Vegas Strip. Although Boyd acquired the property several years after Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal opened a plush 9,000-sq.ft. sportsbook in 1976, the company nurtured and grew Rosenthal’s concept turning the Stardust into the preeminent legal sport betting operation in the U.S. The Stardust was demolished in 2007 to make way for a major Boyd casino project, never completed after the 2008 economic downturn.
Malaysia-based Genting Group bought the site from Boyd, with plans to open Resorts World, a Chinese-themed resort, by 2020.
Now known as the FanDuel Group, the leading Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) company after DraftKings (perhaps now its full equal), the company claims eight million customers and a presence across 45 states. FanDuel, acquired by Paddy Power Betfair in early July, currently operates the new sports book at the Meadowlands Racetrack and will operate the sportsbook operation at The Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia when that state rolls out sports wagering, expected in the next few weeks.
Establishing an Online Presence.
The Boyd/FanDuel agreement, subject to state law and regulatory approvals, would quickly allow Boyd to establish a presence in the online gaming and the national sports wagering industry by gaining access to FanDuel Group’s technology and related services to operate Boyd Gaming-branded mobile and online sports-betting and gaming services. FanDuel Group would operate mobile and online sports betting and gaming services under the FanDuel brand in the states where Boyd Gaming is licensed.
Said Keith Smith, President and Chief Executive Officer of Boyd Gaming:
Through this partnership, Boyd Gaming and FanDuel Group will be in excellent position to successfully capitalize as sports betting and online gaming expand across the country. By joining forces with FanDuel’s nationally-known brand, as well as their considerable technical expertise and resources, we will be positioned to build market-leading sports-betting and online gaming operations in each state as they move forward with these new forms of entertainment. We will also see immediate benefits from our cross-marketing agreement with FanDuel, introducing millions of FanDuel customers to Boyd Gaming’s properties nationwide.
Matt King, Chief Executive Officer of FanDuel Group said, “There is incredible momentum in the sports betting space and we look forward to partnering with Boyd Gaming to bring the FanDuel Sportsbook to more customers across the United States.”
The agreement will cover all states where Boyd Gaming holds gaming licenses currently and in the future, excluding Nevada. It also covers states included under Boyd Gaming’s market-access agreement with MGM Resorts International. Upon completion of Boyd Gaming’s pending acquisitions of the four Pinnacle properties and Valley Forge, Boyd Gaming says it will have regulated operations in 15 states, representing more than 36 percent of the U.S. population.
FanDuel Group says it will market Boyd Gaming properties through its existing daily fantasy sports service and future interactive sports betting and gaming services, while Boyd Gaming will promote FanDuel’s products to its customer base. FanDuel Group will also provide Boyd Gaming customers access to its existing product line.
In what National Basketball Association commissioner Adam Silver and MGM Resorts International CEO Jim Murren hailed as a historic partnership, the professional sports league and major international gaming and hospitality company have struck an agreement on sports betting data and intellectual property, the first relationship of its kind.
The pair made the announcement at a press conference at the St. Regis New York Hotel in New York City on Tuesday. The deal will permit MGM and its properties offering sports betting to use official NBA league data as well as NBA logos and marks in conjunction with its sports betting products.
This agreement makes MGM the “official gaming partner” of the NBA, but this deal is not exclusive to MGM. In fact, eliciting a laugh from Murren and the audience, Silver invited more deals of this kind with other gaming entities.
NBA Sports Betting Deal With MGM Ushers In ‘A Whole New World For Us’ and Positions MGM to ‘Win’ as Number of US Sports Betting States Expected to Grow
It’s a 3-year-deal, of which the financials were not disclosed, will allow both sides to test the waters in what Silver called “a whole new world for us.”
“NBA’s three-year deal does not include rights to allow MGM to stream live NBA games on a mobile app that allows gamblers to bet on that app at the same time,” reported ESPN’s Darren Rovell. “That, many believe, is where the big money is.”
Silver indicated that the NBA recognized that their aggressive lobbying campaign in at least two dozen states with respect to sports betting legislation was an “uphill battle.” The league saw that states were resisting their preferred legislation, and further that a federal framework was not in the works.
But Silver indicated that the state-level battle is one that’s far from over as so far only six states have legalized (New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Mississippi, West Virginia) or expanded their sports wagering offerings (Delaware). But so far, no state has passed legislation mandating the use official league data, or requiring operators or state lotteries to pay the league an “integrity fee” or royalty in any amount. New York came close.
In response to a question about the origin of the official league data — used to grade wagers — from Sportradar, Silver said that their Sportradar deal does not govern its data in the U.S. With respect to data for MGM and other potential partners, he said “The official data feed will come directly from the leagues operation center, or from a partner yet to be named by the NBA.”
Big Week for MGM.
Murren was pleased to have the MGM become the first to test these waters. MGM has now set the market rate for the cost of doing business of this kind directly with a professional sports league.
It’s been quite a week in MGM announcements, with news of its joint venture with the announced formation on Monday of a sports betting and online gaming joint venture with British betting group GVC Holdings Plc, owner of the Coral, Ladbrokes and Sportingbet brands.
Further on Monday, MGM and Boyd Gaming announced a new partnership on Monday that will expand MGM’s portfolio into states likely to offer sports betting and/or online gaming in the coming months or years. The partnership has an eye toward jurisdictions where either Boyd Gaming or MGM operates physical casino resorts and should be able to obtain licenses to operate online.
“We needeto have great brands, which we have at MGM. We needed the right market access in the U.S. We have that. … we also need the best in-game betting experience which we get with GVC, and now we have tremendous data,” Murren summed it up.
He remarked that all of these pieces has MGM primed to “win” in the expanding U.S. sports betting market.
There was some news for New Jersey sportes betting tucked at the end of the presser, too. Said Murren: “At the end of this week we’ll be taking mobile bets from The Borgata via the Play MGM app.”
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