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 headlines, highlighting some fresh news, and rounding up key stories.
Top stories around our network this week
The middle of each month is a key time to assess how sportsbook operators are doing versus the betting public, as state after state publicizes numbers indicating collective handle and revenue among their legalized books. And in recent months, it had gotten to where one might have wondered how anyone out there still had money to bet — not because of gas prices, but because of the pounding the public was taking when venturing a wager. In September, operators across the nation kept nearly 12% of bettors’ money as a win rate.
Welp, as the October reports from regulatory agencies have flowed in this week, things are getting back to normal. Two of the biggest sports betting states are New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and the Garden State’s October hold came in at 7.4% while Keystone State operators reported 7.7%. Both states had massive betting volumes, with New Jersey over $1 billion again and Pennsylvania setting its record at almost $800 million, but gross revenue was down from September because customers evidently did better with their picks.
Those changes in hold rates aren’t isolated to those states. Michigan, at 10.2%, and New York, standing at 9.4%, were both better for the sportsbooks, but those were also substantially reduced rates from the prior month. One thing’s for sure in New York: FanDuel has to be the envy of its peers when it comes to high hold rates.
More revenue reports will be forthcoming from other states, but the big ones thus far are making clear that for the busy month when pro and college football overlap with postseason baseball and the start of the NBA and NHL seasons, things were much closer to historical holds in the industry (not that that’s such a terrible thing).
Sports Handle and its network of sites and reporters make such financial analysis of the industry a top priority, but we also cover much, much more, as wide-ranging stories of the past week demonstrate.
Better late than never, Maryland
It’s a Puig-and-Pete parlay
Some athletes rise to the occasion
Gee, her looks sure faded fast
They’ll all be rolling in dough before long
That was epic, California
It ain’t over ’til it’s over in Florida
Texas is tough, but worth a shot
Look out, world, we’re catching up
A 16th online skin for Massachusetts?
While Monday marks the deadline to submit an application for a Category 1 or 3 wagering license application in Massachusetts, a potentially game-changing drama is playing out 70 miles west of the gaming commission’s Boston office.
There are 15 digital wagering licenses currently available in the state — two each for the state’s three casinos, one each for the state’s two racetracks, and seven stand-alone licenses. But Commonwealth Equine and Agricultural Center, located in the western Massachusetts hamlet of Hardwick, is trying to get approval to run thoroughbred races at Great Meadowbrook Farm. Should that happen, the location would be eligible to apply for a wagering license.
But according to the Worcester Telegram, citizens of Hardwick aren’t so sure they want horse racing. The city’s three-member Board of Selectmen voted in October against allowing racing, but the board this month changed its stance. Following that, citizens turned in a petition opposing the facility. Without city approval, the facility can’t apply for a racing or sports betting license.
Commonwealth Equine and Agricultural Center submitted a Notice of Intent to the MGC stating it would apply for a license. For now, though, the commission has tabled the group’s first step — getting a racing license — until the local politics are sorted out.
— Jill R. Dorson
Fanatics, Commanders partnership clear
News that mobile sportsbooks will go live in Maryland on Wednesday has dominated the headlines, but the state isn’t at a loss for retail sports wagering news either.
Regulatory meetings this week confirmed that Fanatics will be the retail sports betting partner of the NFL’s Washington Commanders. The partnership has been rumored for months, but information on mobile license applications discussed this week by the Maryland Sports Wagering Application Commission showed an official relationship between the two parties. The retail sportsbook is expected to open at FedEx Field in the near future, according to the Maryland Lottery.
Elsewhere in the state, a Betfred retail sportsbook opened at Long Shot’s in Frederick on Friday as a temporary outlet. A 6,000-square-foot permanent sportsbook featuring theater and lounge-style seating is to open at Long Shot’s in the spring. The Betfred sportsbook is the ninth retail sportsbook to launch in the state.
— Bennett Conlin
Brin Gibson steps down in Nevada
Nevada Gaming Control Board Chairman Brin Gibson plans to leave the post at the end of November, the governor’s office announced Monday.
Gibson, who was appointed by Gov. Steve Sisolak in November 2020, told Sisolak that he plans to pursue a new professional opportunity. Gibson’s term ran through January. The resignation comes after Sisolak, a Democrat, lost narrowly to Republican challenger Joe Lombardo in the Nevada gubernatorial election.
Gibson will be replaced by NGCB member Brittnie Watkins on a temporary basis. Gibson’s departure leaves a void on the board for next month’s meeting. The agenda for the December meeting may include an item on Hard Rock International’s proposed acquisition of The Mirage from MGM Resorts International.
— Matt Rybaltowski
Sixth Wisconsin tribe OK’d for sports betting
Following up on a previous Get A Grip item, an amended compact between the state of Wisconsin and the Sokaogon Chippewa Community was approved by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and published in the Federal Register on Thursday. The approval means the Sokagon tribe is now authorized to open a retail sportsbook at its Mole Lake Casino & Lodge, located just south of Crandon in northern Wisconsin. No word yet on when the sportsbook will open.
The Sokagon is the sixth tribe to be approved for sports wagering in the state.
— Ted Dahlstrom
More of the most important, interesting stories
YOU NEVER KNOW WHERE RICK PERRY WILL TURN UP: Former Gov. Rick Perry becomes voice of Texas Sports Betting Alliance [ NBCDFW]
IT’S NOT OVER, CALIFORNIANS: Sports gambling will return to ballot, and soon [Chico Enterprise-Record]
NOR WILL IT EVER END IN BLUEGRASS STATE: Could Kentucky legalize sports betting in 2023? [WLKY]
NOTHING GETS PAST THIS GUY: BetMGM introduces former U.S. soccer star Tim Howard as brand ambassador [CDC Gaming Reports]
The Secretary of Defense reporting for duty 🇺🇸 ⚽️
We’re thrilled to welcome @TimHowardGK to the BetMGM Family 🦁
More ⬇️ https://t.co/Hbo0F55evc
— BetMGM 🦁 (@BetMGM) November 15, 2022
AT LEAST SOMEBODY’S PROFITING FROM ALL THIS: Sportradar turns profitable in the U.S. during Q3 for the first time [SBC Americas]
THINGS ARE ABOUT TO GET INTERESTING IN ARIZONA: Going all in: Phoenix-area casinos prepare for big Super Bowl bets through sportsbooks [Pechanga.net]
SAY IT AIN’T SO, IVAN: Brentford striker Toney charged with breaching betting rules [Associated Press]
THEY EVIDENTLY MAKE A GOOD TEAM: Native Sports Solutions maximizes profits with Canada’s Quarter4 AI tech [CDC Gaming Reports]