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 (or fashionably late) Sports Handle item, “Get a Grip,” recapping the week’s top U.S. sports betting stories, highlighting some fresh news, and rounding up key stories.
Study: Legal sports betting migration is happening
According to a study released by the American Gaming Association this week, U.S. sports bettors are shunning illegal bookies and moving their business to legal sportsbooks. The study reveals that in 2019 in states with legal sports betting, there was a 25% decrease in money spent with illegal bookies against a 12% increase in money spent with legal online/mobile operators. In addition, 74% of those polled said it is important to them to bet through legal operations.
Though those numbers bode well for the legal U.S. sports betting market, 52% of respondents said they did bet on the illegal market and 55% who placed bets on the black market weren’t aware they were wagering illegally.
“This research affirms their interest in moving toward the protections of the legal market,” said AGA President and CEO Bill Miller. “Giving consumers convenient alternatives to the illegal market, like regulated mobile offerings and competitive odds, is key for getting bettors to switch to legal channels.”
The study included 3,451 adults (21 and up) across the U.S.in December 2019 and January 2020.
House Reps: Excise the excise tax
On Friday, Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV) and Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA) announced the forthcoming introduction of a bill that would eliminate what’s known as the federal “handle tax” — a longstanding 0.25% fee on all sports bets. That’s on all bets, not on revenue. Companies required to pay the rate are also docked $50 per employee on the sportsbook workforce.
“Sports are back,” said Congresswoman Titus (NV-1). “Unfortunately, the penalty on making legal sports bets never left. The handle tax makes it more difficult for legal gaming establishments to compete with illegal operators. Repealing it will push more consumers out of the black market and into a well-regulated market. Forcing sportsbooks to pay a per-employee tax is the last thing we need when gaming establishments are still making announcements about new rounds of layoffs and furloughs.”
Reschenthaler represents the district in outside Pittsburgh in southwestern Pennsylvania, a state that has quickly become one of the nation’s biggest sports betting markets, alongside New Jersey, since the federal ban on sports wagering outside Nevada was struck in 2018.
The bill number for the bipartisan measure, nor its exact language, is not yet publicly available. This article will be updated to include when it is.
“The federal excise and head taxes levied on legal U.S. sportsbooks generate little meaningful revenue for the government,” said AGA President and CEO Bill Miller. “Instead, they place legitimate businesses at a significant competitive disadvantage against illicit gambling operations which skirt taxes and licensing fees. Though originally enacted in the 1950’s as a tool to curb illegal gambling, these antiquated federal taxes now give illegal operators a leg up.”
Remote registration now legal in Rhode Island
On Wednesday, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo signed a pair of bills that remove the in-person registration requirement for sports bettors in her state. This now means that consumers can register for one of the state’s two sports betting platforms on their devices, rather than visit a casino, as was previously required. HB 8097 and SB 2919 were passed by both chambers on July 16, and Raimondo signed them July 22.
More of the top industry stories of the week (and some sports things)
It's official, I undervalued that domain. https://t.co/o1ErMuQnFI is the new team URL. It's been fun having a tiny part in the renaming process. I just donated all proceeds, $10,000, to the American Indian College Fund @collegefund. pic.twitter.com/drIwGNDv0s
— Cal Spears (@CalSpears) July 24, 2020
DAYS GONE BY: Senate hearing on college sports gambling rife with outdated opinions [US Bets]
CLOCK TICKING: Massachusetts suddenly on fast track [SH]
INVALID: Oklahoma Supreme Court rules that Gov. Stitt overstepped with the creation of tribal gaming pacts (that included sports betting) [AP]
MORE TABLE TENNIS?: Fall without football would require sports betting industry to get creative [USA Today]
PARTING WAYS: Kambi and DraftKings announce agreement for Q3 2021 tech migration to SBTech [IGB]
OPENINGS: Another brick-and-mortar sportsbook in Michigan has opened [MI Bets]
— VSiN (@VSiNLive) July 23, 2020
ILL-ADVISED: Thoughts on an proposed reduction in money dedicated to problem gambling [GGB News]
VOIDED: Sources: Nevada Gaming Control to allow BetMGM to void more than $200K in ‘past-posted’ bets [ESPN Chalk]
WALL STREET: Rush Street Interactive in talks to go public via DMY Merger [Bloomberg]
FAN-BIENT NOISE: Fox taking fans to the ballgame with a virtual crowd [AP]
A legend from the deep awakens.
— Seattle Kraken (@NHLSeattle_) July 23, 2020
KRAK HEADS: ‘NHL Seattle’s team name is bold and distinctive, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it’ [Seattle Times]