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
No one’s expecting Massachusetts to be a billion-dollar state in monthly handle like fellow newcomer Ohio, but its launch of digital sports betting Friday represents another major stride for the industry. The largest state in New England becomes the 24th in the U.S. where individuals are able to bet legally on games by phone and computer. The timing couldn’t be better, considering the upcoming NCAA Tournament represents the biggest prolonged betting event of the sports calendar for U.S. operators.
Six of those national operators — including top two heavyweights FanDuel and DraftKings — started online operations as soon as they could Friday morning, while four more are expected to do so in the weeks or months ahead. Even with stricter regulations applying to advertising and marketing than has been common in states earlier to legalize and launch, Massachusetts represents an attractive new business opportunity — particularly for DraftKings, which is headquartered there, and for PENN Entertainment, which makes use of Boston-based Barstool Sports to brand its Barstool Sportsbook.
Due to some unique restrictions, such as prohibiting most but not all betting on in-state collegiate sports teams’ events, there have already been some regulatory violations at the three retail sportsbooks in Massachusetts casinos. It remains to be seen if online operators encounter any similar difficulties, but Sports Handle will be monitoring that along with wide-ranging other developments in the industry, as this week’s stories from our network of sites demonstrate.
Marketers being sent a message
Maybe not your father’s tribal gaming
Ridley’s punishment comes to an end
That NFL just never stops
A couple of states disappoint
A couple of states tantalize
A state where something might pop up
Betr things lie ahead in VA
This sounded unbelievable (and was)
He knows from what he speaks
For the numbers nerds
Washington state ready to boost treatment
Legislation to double the amount of money Washington state dedicates to problem gambling treatment sailed through the state’s House and Senate by wide margins within the past week and looks likely to be signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee before the current session ends in late April.
Rep. Chris Stearns, a former chairman of the Washington State Gambling Commission, said his bill would gradually raise the percentage of gross revenue earmarked for treatment — to 0.26% from 0.13% — from lottery sales, horse wagering, and card rooms. Washington’s tribes, which have a monopoly on casino gaming and sports betting in the state, pay no taxes and are not obligated to contribute to the problem gambling fund, although most either have their own treatment programs or donate money to local providers.
“The idea is to expand the availability of treatment, to create new treatment,” Stearns told Sports Handle. “It’s also for research and certification and training programs for problem gambling counselors. The need is so great that it’s just a drop in the bucket. This is an area where, as a state, we could do a lot more. I hope this is just the first step.”
— Mike Seely
Oklahoma sees some legislative progress
With a little less than two weeks remaining before the legislative crossover deadline in Oklahoma, its House Committee on Appropriations and Budgets moved forward an amended version of HB 1027, which would allow for statewide mobile wagering with the state’s Indian tribes in charge. The bill is backed by a handful of tribes, but the state has 39 tribes that operate 130 casinos, and not all tribes are on board with the current proposal.
Gov. Kevin Stitt has been pushing for legal gambling for several years, but he has yet to broker a deal with the tribes. Four of Oklahoma’s border states have legal wagering. The two biggest, Texas and Missouri, are considering the issue in their current legislative sessions.
— Jill R. Dorson
A pay dispute in Ontario
Operators in Ontario aren’t happy, according to Gaming News Canada (GNC), after iGaming Ontario (iGO) sent out a letter in February informing them that they would have to pay bank fees incurred by iGO.
GNC printed part of the letter, in which the iGO shared that fees were required for “the due diligence processes it conducts before Operators can begin to make deposits to iGO bank accounts. A large number of Operators entering an iGaming market that is newly regulated has meant that iGO’s bank has conducted a high volume of due diligence activities.” Operators that launched before Dec. 31 could incur fees of up to $150,000.
Paul Burns, on behalf of the Canadian Gaming Association, told GNC that his organization had written the iGO to voice its “displeasure” and explain that operators, particularly in highly competitive markets, need “cost certainty and regulatory certainty.” Ontario regulators launched live sports betting nearly a year ago, and the market now has at least a dozen wagering platforms, which can also provide iCasino games.
— Jill R. Dorson
More of the most important, interesting stories
THE INDUSTRY’S A LITTLE TOP-HEAVY, EH? Analyst: How much room is there in sports betting? [CDC Gaming Reports]
LET’S BE SURE TO TAKE IT PERSONALLY: How machine learning can personalize sports betting for fans [Sportico]
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE BENJAMINS AND MORE: Pac-12 media rights: How sports gambling and the sale of statistics could fuel revenue growth [Bay Area News Group]
IF YOU THOUGHT YOU KNEW CALVIN RIDLEY … : A letter to the game [The Players’ Tribune]
— SportsBlog.com (@SportsBlog) March 10, 2023
SPORTS BETTING GETS MORE PROMINENT: There’s something new coming to Bok Homa Casino [Hattiesburg American]
THE PLACE WHERE CREDIT CARDS ARE FROWNED UPON: Two casinos, sportsbook fined by state regulators for violations [Radio Iowa]
I CAN SIGN UP TO STAY OUT? SURE: Maine Gambling Control Board launches virtual self-exclusion program [WGME]
A MONTH WORTH KEEPING IN MIND LONGER: Problem Gambling Awareness Month focuses attention on addiction, treatment [CDC Gaming Reports]