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
Legal sports betting in North America reached new heights with Super Bowl LVI, but what do the massive handle numbers and gains across the industry mean?
And what happens right after the Super Bowl? Futures!
How about props?
Other states trying to move forward
Put a betting window in Monument Park
You’re looking live
Out for a rip in Canada
New phone, who dis?
Lights, camera, sports betting action
Cleveland ready to rock
We always have time for horse racing
A different kind of horsepower
A defensive stance
Share the wealth
All that with a war going on?
New Hampshire loves its … Bengals?
The New Hampshire Lottery this week released Super Bowl betting numbers, and it turns out that New Englanders had an affinity for the Cincinnati Bengals. Seventy percent of all wagers on DraftKings’ platform last weekend were for the Bengals, who lost to the Los Angeles Rams, 23-20.
According to the release, 28% of all bets placed in NH came from accounts with Massachusetts addresses, and $7.7 million was wagered — $6.6 million via the DraftKings platform, and $1.1 million at retail locations.
New Hampshire’s Super Bowl numbers exceeded those from last year, when former New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a title. In 2021, $7.1 million was wagered on the big game.
— Jill R. Dorson
Mess in Maine?
While no new bill has been filed as yet, sports betting is once again a hot topic in Maine, but this time it appears it’s being used as a bargaining chip with the state’s tribes.
Lawmakers spent nearly eight hours Tuesday hearing from tribal leaders and other interested parties on the subject of tribal sovereignty. Maine’s tribes, collectively known as the Wabanaki Nation, are hoping to alter a 1980 agreement in which the tribes don’t have the same sweeping sovereignty as federally recognized tribes in other states.
A bill would grant the tribes more say in how hunting and fishing are regulated on tribal lands and give the tribes jurisdiction over certain taxes and court proceedings. It does not explicitly address wagering, and Gov. Janet Mills’ office has floated a proposal that would allow the tribes to have sports betting and possibly other gaming.
Of note is that the tribes have been almost completely absent from the sports betting conversation, dating to 2019, when the legislature passed a statewide digital bill that Mills ultimately vetoed. According to Maine Public Radio, Mills’ office opposes language in the bill, and her chief counsel, Jerry Reid, was the only one to speak in opposition Tuesday. Reid said the governor’s office is working on its own deal with the tribes.
— Jill R. Dorson
‘Back-room card games, cockfights,’ oh my!
In a heated and entertaining debate, Florida’s Senate this week approved the creation of a gaming commission, though there is no gaming just now for it to regulate. The Seminoles regulate gaming on their lands, and their latest compact has been declared invalid by a federal court. Parimutuels in the state are already regulated by the Florida Division of Parimutuel Wagering.
Here’s a peek at the back-and-forth that involved Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes and others prior to the vote, courtesy of the Florida Phoenix:
“What does the Gaming Commission do now that there’s no compact? Do they have a real job?” Brandes asked of Sen. Travis Hutson, a Volusia Republican. “Is this the best job in the state of Florida, to be on the Gaming Commission?”
Hutson, sparring back, answered, “I think the best job in the state of Florida is to be a Florida senator.”
Brandes retorted, “You definitely have to do more work as a senator than you’re going to have to do on the Gaming Commission.”
“Just to be clear,” Brandes said, “their job now is to move buildings or to create a new division? And manage backroom card games and cockfights in Miami?”
Drugs in horse racing: What about the owners?
With the news from Pennsylvania Friday that frequent drug offender and trainer Marcus Vitali once again has run afoul of drug rules in horse racing, a common theme has remained.
Trainers who have horses that come up with positives and overages are sanctioned, they often appeal, and the case is eventually adjudicated. But the owners of the horses involved are almost never sanctioned, outside of surrendering the purse from the race in question, and often don’t speak to the issue.
So, on a whim, we decided to give Carolyn Vogel a call. Vogel is an owner who operates under the Crossed Sabres Farm banner. She is one of the few owners who still sends horses to Vitali, who now primarily operates out of Turf Paradise, which has also been in the news for all the wrong reasons lately.
Vitali has violated rules in several jurisdictions. He had a rash of drug positives in 2015 and 2016 that forced him to relinquish his training license in Florida, was suspended for a year by the Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission for “interfering and impeding an investigation” in 2019, and the New York Racing Association has issued a detailed statement of charges against him ahead of an upcoming disciplinary hearing, just to name a few.
In his most recent case, a horse owned by Crossed Sabres Farm tested positive for methamphetamine at Presque Isle Downs, which led to a one-year suspension by the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission.
“I’ve been thinking about what I should do at this point … but I’ve been with him so long, I try to give him the benefit of the doubt,” said Vogel, who has had horses with Vitali for at least a decade. “It’s getting a little bit difficult to do that. He always has a spin on it — in his favor, of course. I don’t know what to do at this point. I’ve had a lot of other trainers, so it would be fairly easy do at this point. I’m just disgusted about it. I’ve come to the end of my patience with him.”
More of the most important, interesting stories
DEEP IMPACT: The economic impact of sports betting in Arizona has reached $4.75 billion [KGUN]
NOT IN NEBRASKA: What’s the holdup with legal sports betting? [JournalStar]
FUBO EXPANSION: Platform gets access to LA, MO, and MS in Caesars deal [SunHerald]
— SBC NEWS (@SBCGAMINGNEWS) February 17, 2022
NEW DEAL: Spotlight Sports and Advance Local team up on content [CDCGaming]
REVIEW, PLEASE: Sands Corp. asks Florida Supreme Court to look at proposal [FloridaPolitics]
DENIED: Oregon DOJ says no to gambling machines at Grants Pass Downs [Associated Press]
— Variety (@Variety) February 18, 2022
ACROSS THE POND: DraftKings has entered into a partnership with EPL club Norwich City [iGB]
SHARING: The Choctaw Nation distributed more than $2 million to its neighbors in 2021 [Indian Gaming]
— Ben Fischer (@BenFischerSBJ) February 15, 2022