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 stories, highlighting some fresh news, and rounding up key stories.
Top stories around our network this week
Golf, golf, and more golf dominated the sports and sports betting pages this week, as the PGA Tour suspended 17 players, including Phil Mickelson and former world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, for playing in the new Saudi-backed LIV event that started Thursday. Earlier in the week, Mickelson publicly admitted that he has a gambling problem, and Sports Handle took a look at which sportsbooks — some of whom are partners with the PGA Tour — were taking wagers on the new, rogue tour that is luring some of the PGA’s best talent.
Off the golf course, revenue reports spilled in from around the country, including Arizona, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, and Maryland, while the American Gaming Association reported overall commercial gaming revenue just shy of $5 billion for the month of April.
What do they say about glass houses?
Here we go again
King of the hill, top of the heap
That’s good to hear
The big boys will arrive first
Parting is such sweet sorrow
Don’t forget about horse racing
Mass still messy
A day before the Massachusetts conference committee tasked with finding a sports betting compromise met, iDEA Growth sent conferees a letter echoing what seemingly all stakeholders want in the state: a sports betting law that includes a reasonable tax rate, allows for wagering on college sports, outlines reasonable advertising guidelines, and provides for a competitive marketplace. iDEA points out in the letter that wagering is already happening in Massachusetts — which is now surrounded by legal sports betting states — and that barring betting on college sports could mean the state will lose out on up to 30% of potential handle.
“We believe it will be beneficial for you to consider best practices that have been adopted in the 35 jurisdictions that have come before Massachusetts, as well as the collective experience and insights of the online gaming businesses currently licensed and operating in those jurisdictions,” the group wrote.
When they win, you wear a C’s jersey of my choosing. If @warriors win, I’ll wear one of yours.
— Charlie Baker (@MassGovernor) June 9, 2022
The conference committee met for the first time on Thursday, but after less than five minutes in public session, it went behind closed doors to start the process of trying to find compromise. Sen. Michael Rodrigues opened the virtual public session telling Rep. Jerald Parisella, “We’ll work very hard to get this for the governor as soon and as quickly as possible, and know that the entirety of my team is here to help you and your team to achieve that goal.”
New option in West Virginia
BetRivers became the eighth mobile sportsbook operator in West Virginia Tuesday, opening operations as the second skin of Mountaineer Casino Racetrack and Resort along with Caesars Sportsbook. BetRivers previously established its online presence in the Mountaineer State thru iGaming, taking its first online casino wagers in April 2021. BetRivers is targeting a market share in the teens among mobile operators, who have generated more than $215 million in sports wagering handle through the first five months of 2022.
“We are pleased that our integrated app will provide one convenient location for players in West Virginia to switch effortlessly between the casino and sportsbook using phones, tablets and computers to experience all that we have to offer, from spreads, moneylines, parlays, single-game parlays, and player props to slots, tables games, and live dealer experiences,” Richard Schwartz, CEO of RSI, said via press release.
The West Virginia Lottery reported sports wagering handle of nearly $37.3 million in May, with operators claiming more than $3.4 million in revenue. Sports betting handle is up 24.6% to nearly $260 million compared to the first five months of 2021, while revenue has increased just 2.7% to $16.9 million as the win rate has slid from 7.9% to 6.5%.
— Chris Altruda
Will Brees’ NBC departure impact PointsBet?
Plenty of eyebrows were raised Wednesday when it was reported that Drew Brees would be leaving NBC’s football broadcast booth after completing just one year of a multiyear deal. While the departure was said to be prompted by the former New Orleans Saints quarterback’s desire to spend more time with his family, it’s been speculated that Brees could jump to another network, such as FOX.
Brees also has a multiyear deal in place with PointsBet, which is NBC’s official sports betting partner. While a PointsBet spokesperson said there’s “nothing to speculate on at this point in time” concerning Brees’ future with the sportsbook, it’s a safe wager that if Brees winds up in somebody else’s booth, he won’t be living his “bet” life for much longer.
— Mike Seely
Smarkets adds former Nike exec as U.S. GM
Five months before the November elections, Smarkets made a key hire this week with the appointment of Sheldon Hanai as general manager of its U.S. division. Hanai, who has had stints with the U.S. Defense Department, Google, and oil giant BP, previously served as head of global innovation finance at Nike.
Given the rise in data-driven analytics as a predictive tool for the outcome of various elections, Hanai’s appointment should be viewed as an interesting hire. Following the 2022 midterm elections, Republicans had a 75.2% probability of controlling the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives two years from now, based on Smarkets’ U.K. odds on Friday afternoon. Although election betting is not legal in the U.S., British bettors can wager on numerous U.S. political races on Smarkets’ online platform. Former U.S. President Donald Trump remains the favorite at Smarkets to win the 2024 U.S. presidential election.
In other moves this week, PointsBet announced the hiring of two marketing executives. It added Ansley O’Neal, formerly with the International Olympic Committee, as vice president of brand strategy for PointsBet USA. The company also named Josh Powell as director of brand marketing. Powell previously held marketing roles with Paddy Power and Betfair.
On Monday, former William Hill U.S. head trader Nick Bogdanovich joined the trading team at Circa Sports. Bogdanovich spent nine years at William Hill before last year leaving his position with Caesars Sportsbook as vice president of trading.
— Matt Rybaltowski
Check this out
North Dakota’s Magic Casino Resort announced that its 31-by-10-foot video wall that can show up to eight different events as once is up and running. The wall is “the largest privately owned video screen that I could find in the state of North Dakota, ” Paul Hagen of Site On Sound, which installed the wall, said via press release. The sportsbook also offers 22 flat-screen televisions, an odds wall, and betting stations.
More of the most important, interesting stories
REALLY, CHARLES? Barkley, of all people complains there’s “too much” sports betting [Sportscasting]
ARCADE GAMES AND BETTING: Dave and Busters could be headed into sports betting space [FSR]
RISKY BUSINESS: Legalization of weed and wagering has created a conundrum for banks [AmericanBanker]
HOTTY TODDY: MGM to sell Gold Strike Tunica to Cherokee Nation for $450M [CDC]
TEAMING UP: IGT, SuperBook Sports extend partnership into Tennessee [CDC]
Sportsbook brands in the U.S. spent an estimated $282 million on national TV ads, a 281% year-over-year increase, according to a report from @ispottv, a firm that measures the impact of TV and streaming advertising.
— David Payne Purdum (@DavidPurdum) June 8, 2022
SOCCER NEXT: Las Vegas making itself attractive as an MLS expansion location [Review-Journal]
GRAY OUT: Stakeholders to new Florida gambling commission: Come down on gray games [Florida Politics]
BIG SPEND: Experts say those using cashless wallets are spending more [CDC]
Poll: Majority of Canadians favour making sports betting illegal again just to get rid of the fucking ads https://t.co/YPad3MOBiK
— The Beaverton (@TheBeaverton) June 8, 2022