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 stories, and rounding up key stories in sports betting, gaming, and the world of sports at large. You may have missed them, and they are worth reading.
NJ Sports Betting Revenue Exceeds (Some) Expectations and Will Rise Much Higher; Feds May Get Involved in Sports Betting, But How?; Much More
A lot to get to here. Off the top rope: The NJ sports betting August revenue report came in on Wednesday and the results indicated what we expected: the Garden State market is going to get large.
In a month during which four physical sportsbooks operated throughout and four more for a portion of the month, the DraftKings Sportsbook operating digitally for most of the month and two more digital launches in the final week, the total handle reached $95.6 million and total sportsbook gross revenue was $9.18 million. The books online — the vast majority by DK — generated $2.97 million on a $21.7 million handle. In retail, the FanDuel Sportsbook at the Meadowlands Racetrack led the way with more than $3 million in revenue while no other property cracked $1 million.
Beyond that, we don’t need to rehash the figures, but they are telling of what’s ahead. The June, July and then August reports offered incremental information as the number of market entrants in retail form and via mobile/web steadily increased.
First with the William Hill Race & Sportsbook at Monmouth Park and the MGM’s Borgata in mid-June, we now have a report showing nearly $100 million handle that includes online/mobile sports betting figures with just a milliliter-sized dose of football betting in the mix. Percentage-wise among U.S. bettors, football is the major driver of wagering volume/handle, along with basketball.
It’s hardly on a shimmy up a limb to predict that the overall N.J. betting handle and hold will likely surpass Nevada’s sooner than later, given a population three times greater, the state’s proximity to New York and Pennsylvania, and a higher average household income, meaning more disposable income. And perhaps N.J. will have a less sophisticated betting public in the immediate future, with part of the public enjoying the novelty and accessibility of these new options.
I believe September is going to show about a $300 million handle, and perhaps in October when college football gets into crunch time, the NFL standings begin taking shape, the MLB has postseason baseball, the NBA has tipped off and the NHL’s pucks have dropped, and more patrons become aware of their many mobile betting options, there’s a good chance we’ll see a Nevada-sized $500 million handle. This handicapper calls that -105.
Potential Federal Involvement in Sports Betting, and Where It May Be Going
Let’s start in Washington, where ESPN’s David Purdum has reported that a House hearing is probably coming fairly soon:
Multiple sources now confirming, a House Judiciary subcommittee is expected to hold a hearing on sports betting at 10 a.m., Thursday, Sept. 27. Hearing has not been put on official calendar yet and postponements happen frequently.
— David Payne Purdum (@DavidPurdum) September 14, 2018
Recall that in late June, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations scheduled and then postponed “Post-PASPA: An Examination of Sports Betting in America.”
Perhaps this is the rainout date. We do not yet have a list of individuals testifying, or know what the thrust of the hearing will be. Some total conjecture follows.
Many have poured cold water on the idea that Congress might take far-reaching action on sports betting — imposing some kind of federal framework or a prohibitive Frankenstein PASPA. Let’s consider the possibility that something more narrow may be in the works.
Where might there be some common ground amongst stakeholders, including the professional sports leagues, the gaming industry, sports betting suppliers and vendors, and of course the separate states wishing to make their own rules on sports betting?
Consider the existing Sports Bribery Act of 1964 (18 U.S. Code § 224: Bribery in sporting contests):
(a) Whoever carries into effect, attempts to carry into effect, or conspires with any other person to carry into effect any scheme in commerce to influence, in any way, by bribery any sporting contest, with knowledge that the purpose of such scheme is to influence by bribery that contest, shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.
This law is somewhat narrow in scope and 54 years later is a candidate for modernization or expansion. Not every illicit scheme necessarily involves bribery. What if a crooked official acts alone? What about a match-fixing agreement between tennis players, or a rogue point guard shaving points? Bribery alone does not contemplate a complete basket of potential threats to sporting integrity.
Perhaps giving too much credit, but we can surmise that retiring Senator Orrin Hatch, a co-author of PASPA, wants to stamp his legacy with a “win” of some kind, not having had a law he championed get struck down on 10th Amendment grounds by the high court. Perhaps he has communicated this goal to his colleagues in the House. As the mid-term elections approach, a more limited action premised on criminal grounds like the Sports Bribery Act could actually make it to President Trump’s desk.
Other Most Important Sports Betting and Gaming Stories of the Week:
MAKES EIGHT: BetStars NJ the latest in a flood of online sportsbooks to hit the market [NJ-OG]
MARKET LEADER: Despite legal sports betting, black market is still king: DraftKings CEO [FOX Biz]
FIRST OF ITS KIND: MGM continues to embrace opportunity for novel new deals — has sold exclusive in-game betting rights to a sportsbook. [Rovell]
BILOXI: FanDuel opens up shop in Mississippi as company brands two locations [Sun-Herald]
CONFIRMATIONS AND DENIAL: Democrat asks whether Brett Kavanaugh suffered from “gambling addiction” in light of high credit-card debt [NYDN]
ON THE SCENE: B-E-T-S-Bets-Bets-Bets! FanDuel sportsbook hosts a giddy slice of Jets nation [US BETS]
DESPITE LUDICROUS TAXES AND FEES: Which other PA casinos will opt into sports betting? Probably the majority of them [Penn Bets]
Elsewhere in the World of Sports:
PLAYOFFS?: Ranking the 0-1 NFL teams by chances of making the playoffs [TheBigLead]
BRANDING: Nike’s Kaepernick campaign isn’t about Kaep, it’s about Nike [Slate]
HAIR OF THE DOG: According to survey, nearly half of PGA Tour pros have competed while hungover [Mustard/SI.com]
THE BOOTH: Here’s how Jon Gruden ended up on MNF [Mercury]
THE SHIELD: The NFL’s very profitable existential crisis [Bloomberg]
BY ‘OUR OWN’ BOB MANN: When will we stand up to NFL? [Gaming Today]
Tweets of Note (that may have nothing to do with sports):
Ohio state Senator Bill Coley jokes to audience here in D.C. that “I guess we don’t have much gambling” because there have been only 12 arrests for illegal bookmaking in his state in the past 10 years #AspenSportsLab
— John Brennan (@BergenBrennan) September 14, 2018
They only person that ever blocked me on twitter is putting
flyers on all the cars outside the @LVSuperBook He couldn't even muster a response to a comment I made to correct his tweets. Strongly warn people to research this individual b4 giving him any credibility pic.twitter.com/UKmXoGmoZe
— cris (@lasvegascris) September 10, 2018
The best thing I saw yesterday?
This guy from the Baltimore Ravens Marching Band playing PERFECT air drums to Rush's "Tom Sawyer": pic.twitter.com/uKxtXue0PM
— Prescott Rossi (@PrescottRossi) September 10, 2018
Willians Astudillo was asked about his seventh-inning sprint from first to home:
“I just wanted to show that chubby people also run.”
— Jarrid Denney (@jarrid_denney) September 13, 2018
At 8:46 AM this morning, two Georgia firefighters walked 110 stories in remembrance of the fallen heroes of 9/11. #NeverForget
(via Chelsea Renee Farmer | FB) pic.twitter.com/4rcrqOYwgf
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) September 12, 2018
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‘The NFL Handle’: NFL Week 2 Breakdown And Week 1 Reflections, Disappointments