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
The weeks between the NFL conference championships and the Super Bowl have always been busy for sportswriters and sportsbooks, but with the explosion of sports betting in the United States, it has jumped to another level.
WynnBet led the charge this week, with the news that it went live in New York on Friday. There was plenty else out of New York this week to make headlines, along with the start of the Olympics, news tied to the Super Bowl, and more sports betting developments from around the country.
Hard to shake Super Bowl excitement
Other football news
Does the Pro Bowl count as football, though?
But don’t forget, the Olympics have started
Just say it
Controversy of the week
Problem gaming issues not going away
It’s always something with horse racing
Let us bet the Lady Vols
Penn moves closer to 100% with Barstool
Coming in hot
Still waiting on Arkansas
More battles in court
Things are starting to shake out in Ohio
Checking on legislation…
… and the stock market
We’ve got Canada covered, from A to Zed
In New Jersey, too
In-stadium sportsbooks are all the rage
Entering the Cowboy State
Maine sports betting back on the table?
According to a source in Maine, the bill that would allow for legal statewide mobile wagering is set to come off the “Appropriations Table” as soon as next week. The bill, LD 1352, was passed last year by both chambers and has been on the Appropriations Table, which is a kind of holding bin.
Since the bill passed, sponsor Louis Luchini resigned from the Senate to take a job with the federal government, so it is unclear who will pick up the torch for sports betting.
Maine lawmakers in 2019 passed a sports betting bill, but Gov. Janet Mills vetoed it in early 2020. Since then, Maine lawmakers held hearings and formed a committee to rework the bill, which in its current form would require mobile platforms to be tethered to existing gaming locations. Luchini, who wanted platforms to stand alone, tried to kill his own bill last summer due to changes that had been inserted.
In one of the smallest states by population, Maine’s gaming industry consists of horse tracks, OTBs, and two casinos owned by Penn National Gaming.
Maine’s legislative session opened Jan. 5 and runs through April 20.
— Jill R. Dorson
Bally’s to study Standard General proposal
Bally’s Corp. announced Thursday that it has formed a special committee to examine a preliminary, non-binding takeover proposal from hedge fund Standard General LP.
Standard General, the largest shareholder of Bally’s, made a proposal last month to purchase all the Bally’s shares that it did not already own for $38 a share. Standard General Managing Partner Soo Kim also serves as chairman of Bally’s, a global casino-entertainment company that has access to online sports betting licenses in 16 states.
The committee of independent, impartial directors will evaluate the offer as well as any potential strategic alternatives to the proposal, according to Bally’s.
“There can be no assurance that any definitive offer will be made or accepted, that any agreement will be executed or that any transaction will be consummated,” a statement from Bally’s said.
In a letter dated Jan. 25, Kim urged Bally’s to appoint a special committee to consider the proposal and make a recommendation to the company’s board of directors. Standard General will not move forward with the transaction without approval from the committee, Kim wrote.
On the same day, Bally’s surged 22% on the news, closing at $35.85 a share. Bally’s traded at $35.50 on Friday morning, down fractionally on the session.
— Matt Rybaltowski
South Dakota mobile bill moving
The South Dakota Senate’s Commerce and Energy Committee moved a bill Tuesday that would allow voters to decide if statewide mobile wagering should be legalized, according to South Dakota Public Broadcasting. Voters in a November 2020 referendum legalized only retail sports betting in Deadwood, where sportsbooks began taking wagers last year.
The proposed constitutional amendment, SJR 502, comes with a twist — mobile platforms could offer statewide digital betting, but only if wagers flow through servers in Deadwood. The proposal has the support of both the South Dakota Retailers Association and local tribes, which can offer in-person wagering under the current law.
During a hearing, lawmakers pointed out what many in other states are also seeing — residents are crossing the border into legal wagering states to place bets by phone and South Dakota is losing that revenue.
There is also a House proposal, HB 1148, that would be an expansion of gaming. It would allow sportsbook operations in a “licensed affiliate business,” which is defined as any business that meets certain criteria “that forms a partnership with a licensed gaming establishment for the purpose of offering customers within the interior of the premises the opportunity to wager on sporting events through the sports wagering system of a licensed gaming establishment.”
— Jill R. Dorson
Mississippi gaming bills die in committee
Mobile sports betting won’t be coming to Mississippi in 2022. Several bills related to gambling died in committee this week, including a few that would have legalized mobile sports wagering. Mississippians will have to wait at least another year for mobile sports wagering, despite nearby states like Louisiana launching online wagering.
Casey Eure, chairman of the House Gaming Committee, told The Sun Herald that Louisiana’s launch may prompt Mississippi legislators to become more open to mobile betting in future years, but that it won’t be coming immediately.
“I guess we will just have to see the data,” Eure said. “I don’t think another year’s going to be a big difference.”
Other interesting Mississippi bills that failed to advance included one that would have allowed up to 10 skill terminal devices in certain truck stops throughout the state. Another unsuccessful measure was aimed at allowing slot machines in Mississippi airports.
— Bennett Conlin
NBA lottery? Not quite
The Dallas Mavericks are getting into the lottery business. The team announced on Wednesday a partnership with Jackpocket, a third-party app on which consumers can purchase lottery tickets. As part of the deal, Mavericks fans can use a code to win free tickets, merchandise, or VIP experiences, according to a press release.
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said the partnership is “a fun evolution for lottery play. The way Jackpocket has elevated game experiences is something I’m excited to bring to Mavericks fans in Dallas.”
According to research from YouGov, 30% of Mavs fans bought a lottery ticket in the last 30 days and 12% play daily, the release stated.
— Jill R. Dorson
Two new sportsbooks open in Washington state
This week saw the opening of two retail sportsbooks in Washington state, where sports betting — including mobile — is confined to tribal gaming properties.
On Tuesday, the Squaxin Tribe opened its IGT-powered sportsbook at Little Creek Casino in Shelton. Located on the main casino floor, it features eight betting kiosks and 82-inch video screens, along with 30 lounge seats and a 20-by-10-foot video wall.
Friday afternoon saw the official opening of FanDuel’s sportsbook at Suquamish Clearwater Casino Resort on the Olympic Peninsula. Seattle Seahawks legend (and former U.S. Congressman) Steve Largent was on hand to place the ceremonial first bet and was joined at the ribbon-cutting event by his old quarterback, Jim Zorn. The 2,000-square-foot sportsbook features three betting windows and 12 IGT PlaySports self-service betting kiosks.
Next week should bring at least one more opening in the state, as a Caesars spokesperson told Sports Handle that the the Vegas-based betting behemoth and the Spokane Tribe plan to open their recently announced sportsbook before the Super Bowl at the tribe’s casino in Airway Heights.
— Mike Seely
More of the most important, interesting stories
BIG BET: Massive bet moves line on Super Bowl [Review-Journal]
STAR POWER: JB Smoove, Halle Berry, and Mannings headline Caesars Super Bowl ad [Caesars]
The first of what I suspect will be many interviews between now and the Super Bowl discussing my continuing efforts to legalize sports betting in Kentucky. https://t.co/UFKqfOaC40
— Adam Koenig (@repkoenig) February 2, 2022
RUH ROH: Texas poker clubs are in trouble [Gambling and the Law]
DONE DEAL: MGM, NHL announce partnership extension [PR Newswire]
HARSH WORDS: Jockey Club deal with Playtech faces criticism [Racing Post]
Potential win: $7,707,800
— Caesars Sportsbook (@CaesarsSports) February 4, 2022
ALL IN: Athletes Unlimited agrees to terms on integrity partnership with Sportradar [Insider]
THEY HAVE A PLAN: Super Group sees Betway as way through spending scramble [Yahoo! Sports]
Let's walk through what happened at Aqueduct today. The last race was canceled because of fog. That's fine. Gotta do what is safe. Can't have horses & jocks out there if they can't see. But who did this impact most? Once again, it is the bettor — in this case, the winning bettor
— Jeremy Balan (@jeremybalan) February 4, 2022