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
New York state has been the star at the center of the commercial gaming universe for so much of the past year: Record sports betting numbers! Vegas-style casinos coming to New York City! Online casino legalization around the corner!
Well, the news of the past week slowed things down a bit, just like rush hour traffic trying to get across Manhattan. Yes, the New York sportsbooks made $108.2 million in revenue in February, which is nice, but that was their lowest take since August.
When it comes to licensing of three casinos, which is supposed to bring the state billions of dollars from associated fees, the bureaucracy is deep into the morass of reviewing hundreds of questions from interested parties before anything moves forward. It could be years before new casino revenue arrives.
As for allowing online casinos — which all of the digital operators know can be a far bigger cash cow for them than sports betting — fuhgeddaboutit it, at least for this year. The New York Senate’s prime mover of gambling-related legislation expects iCasinos to be legalized someday, but his colleagues have shown no appetite for it in early 2023.
As the biggest state with legalized sports betting and with expansion capabilities uncertain in California, Texas, and Florida, New York will continue to dominate conversations centered around how and where operators make money and how much. But there’s a little more sense of caution now about the additional growth there. Sports Handle and its network of sites will continue following developments there closely, as we do everywhere in the U.S., demonstrated by the past week’s stories:
How’s it goin’, Massachusetts?
These guys are born every minute
All good things in time
A question of who’s responsible
Yep, it’s that time of year
If you think Vegas is already nutty …
Sports betting lifting all boats
Nothing’s free, so don’t say so
For a little state, it sounds tough
What the lawmakers are up to
It’s a numbers game
Barstool drops ‘can’t lose’ wording
Barstool Sportsbook has indicated it will no longer refer to one of its bet offers as the “Big Cat Can’t Lose Parlay,” according to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. MGC Investigations Enforcement Bureau Chief Loretta Lillios told commissioners this week that they must determine if the advertisement that had long been used by PENN Entertainment’s online sportsbook “runs afoul” of regulations and, if so, what action to take. The decision was to hold an adjudicatory hearing on the issue and potentially issue a fine or penalty.
Lillios also asked that Plainridge Park and Barstool Sportsbook give the MGC a heads-up to review any similar promotions going forward. So far, the MGC has opted to hold special hearings on every potential violation, including two earlier this week regarding bet menu violations by Plainridge Park and Encore Boston Harbor, both of which took wagers on Massachusetts college basketball games in violation of state rules.
— Jill R. Dorson
Vermont inches closer to legalization vote
Vermont’s House Ways and Means Committee approved an amended version of HB 127, 11-1, on Thursday, sending it to the Appropriations Committee, the final stop before the bill could go to the House floor for a vote. The bill calls for up to six digital sports betting platforms (no retail), and the state Department of Liquor and Lottery would be the regulator.
No tax rate is spelled out in the bill, which allows for a revenue-sharing plan to be hashed out by the regulator and operators. The bill bans betting on Vermont college teams unless they are participating in a tournament and sets the legal age at 18.
In an interesting twist, the bill would allow for a sliding scale for annual license fees based on the number of active operators. If there is only one operator, the annual fee would be $550,000, but it drops to $125,000 if there are six. Since lawmakers in Maine and Massachusetts legalized wagering in 2022, Vermont is the only non-legal New England state. The legislature is set to adjourn May 19.
— Jill R. Dorson
More of the most important, interesting stories
PESSIMISM APLENTY ABOUT LEGALIZATION: Analyst: Politics adverse for iGaming, sports betting [CDC Gaming Reports]
SOMEBODY’S GOT TO TEACH CONGRESS: Nevada congresswoman makes educating colleagues about gaming a priority [Las Vegas Sun]
IN A CAMPUS QUANDARY: The risks student-athletes face amid sports betting boom [PBS NewsHour]
WILL HE PUNT OR NOT? Pat McAfee could walk away from $120 million-plus FanDuel deal [New York Post]
Pat McAfee could reportedly exit from his $120 million FanDuel deal https://t.co/UIGFZcVdOa
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) March 15, 2023
THESE BRACKETS SURE COST A LOT: March Madness will cost employers billions in lost productivity [Entrepreneur]
NORTH DAKOTA DEBATING WHAT TO DO: Amendment to sports betting bill fails by one vote [KXNET]
FIRST THINGS FIRST, NOT SPORTS BETS: Golden Nugget Danville’s sportsbook won’t open when casino does [The News-Gazette]
NO COMPLAINTS HERE ABOUT PORTNOY: Analyst: Bartstool’s controversial founder Portnoy no problem for PENN [CDC Gaming Reports]