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 developments.
Top stories around our network this week
There was plenty of controversy to go around and a bit of weirdness this week, as we head toward the holidays.
Let’s continue our look around the sports betting world.
Baseball has issues, too
Approvals and launches
For the first time that I can recall, gross gaming revenue from sports betting nearly eclipsed iCasino revenue. pic.twitter.com/yKxuW1cuQi
— Captain Jack Andrews (@capjack2000) December 16, 2021
DK going up or down in 2022?
Better service, please …
Betting coming to a sports venue near you?
Las Vegas still hot in the headlines …
… but it’s much cooler in Canada
Back to the States
— Jennifer Durenberger (@racing_matters) December 14, 2021
FanDuel throws $4M more at Florida proposal
FanDuel beefed up its funding to Florida Education Champions, the political committee running its Florida ballot proposal, in November, according to the Florida Department of Elections website. The company added $4.38 million to the campaign, which brings the total to nearly $37.1 million.
FanDuel and DraftKings are hoping to get an initiative on the November 2022 ballot that would allow for statewide mobile sports wagering. The committee must collect 891,589 valid signatures by Feb. 1, 2022, to get on the ballot. As of Thursday, the DOE website showed that 190,433 had been verified, and FEC on Nov. 30 said it had collected more than 600,000.
The proposal is one of two gaming initiatives that proponents are hoping will make the ballot. The other is funded by the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, and would allow the company to build three retail casinos and card rooms to expand offerings.
There is currently no legal sports betting in Florida, after two federal courts ruled that the Seminoles’ compact with the state was illegal and ordered the tribe to shutter its Hard Rock digital app. The tribe complied Dec. 4. Despite that, Gov. Ron DeSantis included $500 million of gaming revenue in his budget, according to Florida Politics.
– Jill R. Dorson
More options in Washington
On Monday, the sportsbook at the Puyallup Tribe’s Emerald Queen Casino near Tacoma, Wash., will open its doors to the public. The ceremonial first wager will be placed at 1 p.m., with Seattle sports luminaries Marshawn Lynch, Edgar Martinez, Lawyer Milloy, Sidney Rice, and Dave “Softy” Mahler on hand to mingle with fans and bettors alike at the BetMGM Sportsbook @ EQC, which will be the fourth to open in the Evergreen State.
It's here! EQC Sportsbook Grand Opening happens Dec. 20th!
1pm: First Bet Placed
1:30pm – 4:30pm: Meet and Greet:
🤩 Edgar Martinez,
🤩 Marshawn Lynch
🤩 Sidney Rice
🤩 Lawyer Milloy
3pm: @Softykjr live broadcast
Check out all the details:https://t.co/5yuvyC7g6m pic.twitter.com/hQnMn5UgfB
— Emerald Queen Casino (@EQCasino) December 16, 2021
Washington’s first retail sportsbook opened in September at the Snoqualmie Casino, and fully launched its onsite mobile app this past Monday after a soft launch in November. Washington’s sports betting market is fully controlled by tribes and does not currently allow for mobile wagering outside of tribal casino properties.
Sportsbook patrons are permitted to sign up for the casino’s mobile app by invitation only — which is somewhat misleading. Per the casino’s CEO, Stanford Le, pretty much anyone can come in off the street, sign up for the casino’s Crescent Club loyalty program, and say they’re interested in obtaining a mobile sports betting account.
“From there, you’d get added to a list and our team would contact a person and arrange a time and location — usually it’s just another area near the sportsbook,” said Le, who modeled his signup system after Disneyland’s Fastpass. “It gets you out of the normal sportsbook and gives you individual attention.”
As for when, if ever, the state’s tribes might push for statewide mobile, Le said, “It’s always in the back of your mind, but for us, the focus is really getting this first part right. So let’s make sure we can walk before we run. Later on, if we find out we can do it and do it safely and really protect the integrity of the game, that’s where it’s a possibility.”
At another sportsbook on the east side of the state, Kevin Zenishek, director of operations for Northern Quest Casino, said he hoped to have his sports betting app up and running this spring, hopefully in time for March Madness.
– Mike Seely
Executive: TwinSpires has not sold
Just more than two weeks after a Bloomberg report indicated Churchill Downs Inc. (CDI) was considering the sale of its wagering platform, TwinSpires, a company executive told employees Friday there has been no sale.
“There is no sale. Our business is in the stable of CDI,” said CDI Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer Ben Murr, according to multiple sources. “Now it’s time to deliver.”
The Bloomberg story said CDI was shopping “TwinSpires Racing,” which could mean the advance-deposit wagering platform for horse racing, but TwinSpires also has online sportsbooks live in Arizona, Colorado, Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee. Additionally, it has online casino operations in Michigan, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
The Bloomberg story did not indicate if sports or casino would be included in a potential sale, but reported the transaction could pull $1.5 billion.
CDI did not respond to a request for comment Friday.
Navarro sentenced to five years
Prosecutors asked for a five-year sentence for disgraced horse trainer Jorge Navarro in a filing Monday, and that is what he received Friday from Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, according to the Daily Racing Form.
Navarro, who was the leading trainer at Monmouth Park in New Jersey from 2013-19, earlier pleaded guilty to charges of participating in an illegal horse-doping scheme.
Just ran into Navarro outside court. Asked if he had any comment. “The day they catch everyone we’ll talk,” he said.
— David Grening (@DRFGrening) December 17, 2021
Sportradar licensed in Maryland, Wisconsin
On Sunday, the Green Bay Packers are a 7-point favorite over the Baltimore Ravens in an interconference matchup that Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson is expected to miss with an ankle injury.
It is only by pure coincidence that sports betting data provider Sportradar issued a release Friday, two days before the game, on licensing matters involving the home states of both teams. Sportradar announced Friday that it has received a Sports Wagering Contractor License in Maryland and a temporary Gaming-Related Contractor Certificate in Wisconsin. The company’s U.S. headquarters are in Minneapolis.
Both states recently passed legislation or approved further regulations on sports wagering. BetMGM unveiled a retail sportsbook at MGM National Harbor on Dec. 9, while two others followed with rollouts of their own a day later. Maryland law allows for the licensure of up to 40 retail sportsbooks, including 10 Class A licenses for established statewide casinos. Wisconsin introduced legalized sports betting Nov. 30 through the Oneida Nation.
“Sportradar is constantly looking for opportunities to expand offerings for its partners and customers and, from a betting standpoint, that starts with securing state licenses in key states like Maryland and Wisconsin, which have multiple professional sports teams, as well as very passionate fanbases,” said Arne Rees, Sportradar U.S. chief executive officer, in a statement.
Sportradar counts a number of top sportsbook operators as clients, most notably DraftKings and FanDuel. Overall, Sportradar now holds 26 licenses at the state and tribal levels across the U.S.
“These licenses further Sportradar’s leadership position in the U.S. and allow us to grow these new markets with our best-in-class data, products, and services, all backed by the highest levels of integrity,” Rees added.
– Matt Rybaltowski
More of the most important, interesting stories
OOPS: Several Deadwood sportsbooks flagged for violations. [Keloland]
FORE!: BetMGM is now the exclusive odds provider of the PGA Tour. [PGA Tour]
TRILLIONS?: Report says illegal betting handle between $340B and $1.7T [UNODC]
YOU BETCHA: Vivid Seats has acquired Betcha Sports [Vivid Seats]
LAGGING: NV remains in sports betting Dark Ages [Nevada Independent]
HIRED: Brittney Payton signs content deal with BetRivers [RSI]
HOOKED: Major League Fishing partners with Bally’s [MLF]
VEGAS BABY: San Manuel approved to own, operate Palms [Review-Journal]
RACINOS AHEAD: Nebraska commission approved casinos at the state’s racetracks. [Journal Star]