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A Prickly Path To Profitability

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It’s information overload everywhere, and there’s not time enough to sleep and eat and stay fully apprised of what’s happening on this crazy blue dot of ours (two out of three ain’t bad). Here’s the weekend Sports Handle item, “Get a Grip,” recapping the week’s top U.S. sports betting headlines, highlighting some fresh news, and rounding up key stories.

Top stories around our network this week

“Profit” has not been a word commonly or correctly connected to the online sports betting industry in its staggering growth over the past five years. The operators have generally been nonprofits, at least in real-money terms as opposed to having actual 501(c)(3) status.

But a second-quarter earnings report from BetMGM could be a hint of all that changing for others as well as itself. The online venture co-owned by MGM Resorts and Entain this week announced positive EBITDA during the three months ending June 30. Only FanDuel has previously reported a profitable quarter, and no digital gaming operator in the U.S. has yet reported a full year of profitability.

Like competitors, BetMGM has been focused on reducing marketing and customer acquisition costs. At the same time, the sports betting industry has seen increased hold rates and revenue over the past year, helped greatly by their promotion of parlay betting. A new season of football betting is around the corner, and BetMGM is expecting throughout 2023 to “continue our strong growth and remain on our path to profitability,” according to CEO Adam Greenblatt.

Quarterly earnings reports from the likes of DraftKings and Caesars are upcoming, and it will be interesting to see if they show the same positivity. This is the kind of information Sports Handle excels at providing, just as with other news from the sports betting industry, as the past week’s stories below demonstrate. And for news from the broader gambling world, check out our partner site US Bets, including the latest Gamble On podcast.

Hard Rock about to rock Illinois

Illinois Gaming Board approves Hard Rock for sports wagering licenses

Massachusetts penalties in triplicate

Massachusetts regulator issues fines to MGM, PENN, and Wynn

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Getting in that Kentucky starting gate

Churchill Downs says its sportsbook will go live on first possible date in Kentucky

A lot to consider in Vermont

Here’s what’s inside the Vermont sports betting RFP

Make a personal bet with Fanatics in Ohio

Fanatics to open Columbus retail sportsbook in late August

Oklahoma’s going nowhere fast

Gaming expansion going nowhere in Oklahoma as politicians fight among themselves

One more player suspension in NFL

NFL suspends Broncos DL Eyioma Uwazurike for violating league’s sports betting policy

It’s best ball, except when it’s the worst

Best ball fantasy football: basics, strategy, and ways to play

DraftKings voids NFL best ball draft after user alleges collusion

Regulators are underdogs vs. industry

Schuetz: Asymmetric skills make for mismatches in gaming regulation

College debts cause collateral damage

TransUnion report: College loan repayments may impact sportsbook industry

A special and unexpected debate

Inside the discussion around allowing betting on the Special Olympics

Election betting gets an advantage

PredictIt wins latest battle against Commodity Futures Trading Commission

Problem gambling at the forefront

Young adults a focus during National Council on Problem Gambling’s annual conference

What happens to problem gamblers in Washington D.C. after budget cut?

More June numbers are in

Golden Knights’ cup run puts drag on Nevada sportsbook revenue for June

National online casino revenue totals $482 million for June, up 24% over 2022

Michigan internet casino produces $151M revenue in June, online sportsbooks generate $18M

Arkansas operators look to add more sports

Arkansas operators have settled on 18 new markets they’d like to offer and anticipate that the Arkansas Racing Commission will consider the requests at its next meeting in late August. Among the markets operators are hoping to add are beach volleyball, pickleball, and rodeo. They also want to include slap fighting, which the regulator declined to approve earlier this year and has been rejected by other state regulators.

The list also includes “summer athletics” and “winter athletics,” which would prep the state’s operators for the 2024 Olympics. The ARC in June approved 17 new markets, including bowling, lacrosse, and water polo. Arkansas currently offers retail and digital sports betting, though no major operators are live in the state. BetSaracen, tied to the Sarencen Casino Resort, is the biggest operator, commanding more than 65% of handle monthly.

Carlton Saffa, the chief marketing officer for the Saracen Resort, told Sports Handle that the “initial feedback is that we will be successful” in adding the sports when the commission meets. He said the goal is to be able to “offer what other states are offering. We don’t want to be a place that is artificially limiting the market.”

— Jill R. Dorson 

Wisconsin tribe preps for sports betting

IGT this week announced a new partnership in which its PlaySports technology will power sportsbooks at three Wisconsin retail casinos owned by the St. Croix Chippewa Indians. The casinos at Turtle Lake, Danbury, and Hertel will all add IGT QuickBet kiosks as part of the deal.

“Our agreement with IGT will enable us to wow our guests with localized betting offers and first-rate player experiences at our sportsbooks and grow excitement at The Book and the Red Zone,” St. Croix Casino General Manager Loren Benjamin said via press release. “Sports betting has ushered in new energy and visitation to our casinos, and we look forward to elevating and evolving that success with IGT’s proven technology and experienced team.”

The Oneida Nation became the first to offer sports wagering in Wisconsin in November 2021 after it renegotiated its compact with the the state. Since then, other tribes have followed.

In Indian Country to the south, the Navajo Nation opened its sportsbook at Twin Arrows in Arizona this summer and on Tuesday announced a partnership with U.S. Integrity for integrity monitoring, including staying in compliance with state and tribal regulations and identifying suspicious betting activity, according to a press release.

— Jill R. Dorson

Tweet of the week

More of the most important, interesting stories

COACH THROWS CHALLENGE FLAG OVER BETTING POLICY: “Shame on us”: Broncos coach Sean Payton rips NFL for gambling policy after latest ban [USA TODAY]

PLAYER ADMITS BETTING  WAS HIS FAULT: Titans’ Petit-Frere changes tune, takes responsibility for gambling violation [Nashville Post]

END OF THE LINE WITH A LOSS FOR WYNN: Casino mogul Steve Wynn fined $10M to end fight over claims of workplace sexual misconduct in Nevada [Associated Press]


TREATING BETTORS WELL PAYS OFF, SEE: Analyst says Circa now one of Nevada’s leading sports betting operators [The Nevada Independent]

THEY’VE COME A LONG WAY, BABY: End zone: Is the U.S. ready to support women’s sports? [iGB North America]

BIG BRAZIL GETS READY TO ROLL: Brazil regulates sports betting with 18% tax [iGaming Business]


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