The US sports betting boom intensifies competition in Nevada


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The sports betting industry these days isn’t just about handicap games for bookmakers and bettors.

It’s about casino operators, strategic alliances, broadcast and podcast partners, sports teams, sports leagues, stadiums, technology and being the official “fill-in-the-blank” of a gaming company.

Every state is different.

There are different rules and regulations, a wide range of tax rates, and a variety of venues in commercial casinos, tribal casinos, lotteries, card rooms, and horse and dog tracks.

Some states require you to have a retail store, or other states require you to be online only. It involves signing up in person for a mobile app, as required in Nevada, or submitting a form online, as is the case in New Jersey.

And it’s always evolving. If you haven’t been paying attention to the sports betting industry lately, things have changed as quickly as the outcome of a soccer game after a successful Hail Mary.

Impact on Nevada

In the last week alone, two unrelated events occurred that could potentially impact Nevada sports betting.

The Arizona House of Representatives passed a bipartisan vote to legalize sports betting, which was referred to the Senate.

In Nevada, the state’s Gaming Control Board unanimously recommended that Caesars Entertainment Inc. acquire William Hill US, the state’s largest bookmaker with more than 120 branches, to make Caesars a national sports betting powerhouse. The Nevada Gaming Commission will make a final decision on March 18th.

Even Chris Grove, general manager for sports and emerging industries at Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, a research firm, admits that it becomes harder and harder to keep up with all the steps companies in the industry are taking as the three years come to an end Anniversary of the start of legalized sports betting in the United States in May.

Eilers & Krejcik, following the industry, reported last month that 26 states are now offering legal sports betting, including five that have bets approved but not yet operational.

The company estimates 45 percent of the US adult population lives in a state where sports betting is legal. There are 31 bills for sports betting nationwide.

Market growth

Sports betting revenue in the United States rose from $ 920 million in 2019 to $ 1.57 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow to $ 5.8 billion by 2023.

Much of this growth was driven by potential stakeholders who aspired to be part of the action. And that growth, Grove said, could be more difficult to sustain when lawmakers debated the merits of sports betting in their respective states.

“Everyone involved in sports or entertainment at this point is taking at least a cursory glance at the sports betting opportunity,” said Grove of the industry’s growth compared to what happened in the immediate aftermath of the Supreme Court overturning professional and amateur sports the US record was protection law. This move essentially sparked the US sports betting boom in 2018.

“It’s different, not just in the sense that it broadens the field of who has an economic stake in this industry,” he said. “It is also different who lobbies for these bills. When you talk about sports betting in Illinois, the (Chicago) Cubs have come up to support that bill. When else can you imagine a time when a professional baseball team is advocating an expansion of the game of chance? Pretty rare. “

In Pennsylvania, Grove said Comcast Corp., a global media and technology company based in Philadelphia, has advocated sports betting. In Texas, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, Jerry Jones, and the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, Mark Cuban, led the discussion.

“This is a brave new world when it comes to the legislative dynamics of gambling expansion,” said Grove. “This is also one of the reasons why it is faster than the expansion of gambling normally. This is where a seismic collision of sports and gambling actors is really going to happen. “

Legislation in Arizona

Arizona could be the second state bordering Nevada to introduce sports betting – Oregon was the first – if lawmakers allow it. The house bill would allow up to 10 mobile and retail licenses for tribes and 10 more for professional sports teams. It would also allow betting on professional sports team stadiums, the TPC Scottsdale golf course, which is home to the PGA’s Phoenix Open, and the Phoenix Raceway track.

Grove believes that the diverse list of stakeholders may make it harder to come up with a plan that works for all parties.

“And rule Numero Uno about obstruction to legislation is that it’s easier to kill a bill than it is to pass a bill,” he said.

The close proximity of a large metropolitan area like Phoenix with a robust sports betting system may worry some Nevada gaming companies, but Jay Kornegay, vice president of Westgate Sportsbook, expects Las Vegas to have a huge advantage over Arizona tribal casinos.

“I firmly believe this will not hurt Las Vegas in the long run,” said Kornegay. “I believe that more and more people are introducing, educating and ultimately wanting to visit the Las Vegas Mecca of sports betting for a number of reasons.”

Kornegay believes there are now other reasons people are flocking to Las Vegas.

“People in New York don’t just go to Las Vegas to place a sports bet,” he said. “They may focus their travels on a sporting event, but they do other things while they are here.”

Therefore, he believes the rapid expansion of sports betting elsewhere will not ultimately hurt Nevada.

The diverse list of potential stakeholders could also hold California back, Grove said.

“The interesting thing about these big states is that they have such a big price tag that the stakeholders are really ready to get on their heels to try and get the version of sports betting they want to do,” he said .

The two largest sports betting providers in the US are not licensed in Nevada. FanDuel, which operates in Colorado, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and West Virginia, and DraftKings, which is located in all of these states as well as New Hampshire, are the two largest producers of sports betting revenue in the country. according to Eilers & Krejcik.

Daily fantasy sport

It is no coincidence that these companies began with daily fantasy sports games and then moved on to traditional sports betting when PASPA was overturned. Daily fantasy sports were embraced by the NFL – but FanDuel, DraftKings, and the NFL didn’t view fantasy sports as a form of gambling. The Nevada Gaming Commission thought differently, saying the companies had to be licensed if they were to do business in the state. Neither was licensed.

While DraftKings is # 2 nationwide in sports betting revenue, its executives continue to create new ideas for the industry. In a recent results conference call, Jason Robins, Co-Founder, Chairman and CEO of DraftKings, discussed his company’s new relationship with InComm Payments to bring the industry’s first retail gift card to market. The launch would expand DraftKings’ presence in convenience stores and allow consumers to gift the DraftKings experience to others in denominations of $ 25 and $ 50.

“It gives our customers another way to fund their accounts and get in touch with our products while expanding nationwide through retail locations,” said Robins.

Both Grove and Kornegay believe it is only a matter of time before FanDuel and DraftKings hit the Nevada market.

“I think you will see these companies get licensed in Nevada at some point,” Grove said. “I think we’re a small market in a way, but we are a deeply symbolic market. We are still the epicenter for gambling in the US, and I think participating in the Nevada market is important for that reason. “

“They had already set up databases in many countries so they were sure to have an early start and be able to communicate with their clients from their daily fantasy leagues and websites,” added Kornegay.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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