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.
Sports betting on hold in Massachusetts
The Massachusetts Senate put the brakes on legal sports betting late Wednesday night by rejecting an amendment to an economic development bill that would have added sports betting. The bill passed, but the amendment did not, pushing the possibility of legal sports betting in the Bay State to the fall, at the earliest.
House lawmakers included sports betting as part of an economic development bill late Tuesday night. In that bill, statewide mobile sports betting would have been allowed, including on untethered or stand-alone mobile platforms, meaning companies like Boston-based DraftKings, FanDuel or PointsBet, none of which have a physical foothold in the state, could have digital sites. The bill set a 15% tax rate, would have allowed for betting on Division I college sports only, and includes a mandate to use official league data.
According to MassLive, Chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday said this in his address to the chamber: “As it relates to sports gaming, sports wagering, I believe that certainly the time is close when we are going to be tackling this issue, but the time is not now. Nor is this the proper vehicle to do so in.”
The session ended on Friday, July 31.
Whirlwind week in Illinois
High-stakes commercial jockeying in the Illinois sports betting market, moving alongside the political roller coaster, turned Sports Handle into an unofficial Illinois website over the last week. The COVID-19 pandemic and casinos closures have played a role in the addition of new coaster tracks.
Governor J.B. Pritzker’s order suspending the requirement that patrons sign up in person to open a sports wagering account was allowed to expire this past week. The governor issued the executive order in June in the interest of public health: it’s easier for people to socially distance and harder to transmit the virus when folks aren’t milling around in casinos.
The order’s expiration coincides with planned launches in the state by DraftKings and FanDuel sportsbooks, which Rush Street Gaming, operators of Rivers Casino and BetRivers Sportsbook, successfully lobbied to put into a “penalty box” for controversially operating daily fantasy contests even after the Illinois attorney general at the time opined that to do so was not legal in Illinois. If you see any dots, go ahead and connect them. Illinois casinos were allowed to re-open in early July under certain restrictions. Meanwhile, COVID-19 cases are trending in the wrong direction in the state.
1. Reaction to the order’s expiration: Gov. Pritzker’s choice to allow a rollback on remote registration is not received well by many.
2. More intrigue ahead: OTBs poised to become critical in the Illinois sports betting market.
3. The Illinois Gaming Board voted unanimously to approve the controversial rebranding rule, while earlier in the week DraftKings went forward with a rebranding of Casino Queen in East St. Louis last Thursday, with the casino now named “DraftKings at Casino Queen.”
4. Churchill Downs Inc. appears to be ending its attempt to bring sports betting to Arlington International Racecourse in Illinois, and Chief Executive Officer William Carstanjen raised the possibility of selling the property.
“Currently, we’re not planning on doing sports wagering there through the Arlington license,” Carstanjen said. “We’re happy to play heavily in Illinois in sports wagering through our Rivers license … so that’ll be our play for sports wagering in Illinois.”
5. Finally, Jill explores why certain bets got pulled last week — including those on motor sports and the PGA, among others — reviewing the reaction (“only in Illinois”) and aggravation that followed the snafu.
More of the most important, interesting sports betting stories (plus some sports)
Breaking: The box office at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C. has been transformed into a temporary @WilliamHillUS retail sportsbook that will begin accepting cash bets today. Seven betting windows, nine self-serve kiosks. First sportsbook at a US sports venue.
— David Payne Purdum (@DavidPurdum) July 31, 2020
While the arena is not fully open, nor hosting fan-less Wizards or Capitals game, the on-location sportsbook does become the first U.S. pro sports venue to house an operational sportsbook.
BREAKING: Today, @DraftKings and @PGATOUR team up to announce a new sports betting deal, designating DraftKings as the first-ever “Official Betting Operator of the PGA TOUR”. Full release here: https://t.co/yp9Arv71Pd pic.twitter.com/QarNZQeNKB
— DraftKings News (@DraftKingsNews) July 28, 2020
TABLE TENNIS: Colorado sees sharp uptick in sports betting handle for June [SH]
SPAC PARTY: Rush Street to go public, following in footsteps of DKNG and Sportradar exploration [SH]
ARROW POINTING UP: FanDuel Group CEO Matt King: ‘Demand is off the charts’ for sports betting amid COVID-19 [Yahoo!]
IN THE DESERT, TOO: Sports betting making a comeback in Las Vegas [KTNV]
NEW VENTURE: ESPN/Bill Simmons buddy Cousin Sal launches sports gambling media company ‘Extra Points’ [THR]
FORECAST: Will August break monthly sports betting handle records? [US Bets]
ANOTHER FORECAST: Disease holds all the cards for economic recovery, professor says [CDC Gaming]
REOPENINGS: Detroit casinos including MGM Grand set to reopen this week [MI Bets]
Interesting to see a lot of discussion about offshore sportsbooks and the media attention given to these businesses. I’ll start by saying that the challenge with the legal regulated market competing with offshore books is that offshore books might:
1. Offer credit
— Jennifer Roberts (@JRoVegas) July 30, 2020
WANDERING MEN: Homeless Blue Jays adjust to life on the road: ‘Truth is, there’s no place like home’ [USA Today]
BREAKING: MLB commissioner Rob Manfred told MLBPA executive director Tony Clark on Friday that if the sport doesn’t do a better job of managing the coronavirus, it could shut down for the season, sources tell ESPN.
Story at ESPN: https://t.co/o0OL7JzowN
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 31, 2020
Comissioner Rob Manfred tells me “We are playing. The players need to be better, but I am not a quitter in general and there is no reason to quit now. We have had to be fluid, but it is manageable.”
— Karl Ravech (@karlravechespn) August 1, 2020
BLACK LIVES MATTER: As NBA players honor the BLM movement, Miami Heat center Meyers Leonard explains his difficult decision to stand for anthem [NBA]
NEW BOOTH: ESPN reportedly will turn to Steve Levy, Louis Riddick and Brian Griese for a three-man MNF broadcast team [NY Post]