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
A lot more money is wagered on professional than collegiate sports in America, particularly outside the two major sports of football and basketball, so it is natural that more of the discussion concerning gambling revolves around the NFL, NBA, or MLB. A number of issues of late, however, have brought the relationship between legal wagering and the NCAA and its member schools to the forefront.
Publicity surrounding tainted betting on University of Alabama baseball, investigation of wagering done by Iowa and Iowa State University athletes themselves, questionable partnerships between universities and sportsbook operators, and the mental health pressures faced by student-athletes subjected to criticism from angry bettors have all contributed to concerns about the intersection of collegiate sports and legal sports betting.
As one step, the NCAA this week announced an intensified effort to study such issues now that wagering is increasingly common. The sportsbook industry would shudder at the prospect of any new federal regulation or intervention to address concerns, but the potential for that was raised this week at a panel discussion that included former congressman and basketball star Tom McMillen. Some media outlets could be accused of going overboard in overusing the word “scandal” in describing the current state of affairs, but there’s no question the issues have legitimately garnered national attention.
Sports Handle and its sister sites will continue closely monitoring and covering the debate, which is unlikely to end anytime soon. We’re also on top of many more issues, as stories below from the past week show. And to be further informed on the broad gambling industry, check out US Bets and its weekly column feature, Double Down, as well as the Gamble On podcast.
Fanatics getting in position
Fanatics Sportsbook offering bonus bets to Fanatics merchandise customers
Massachusetts commission awards Fanatics Sportsbook its operations license
Once more, Texas is a big no-go
Texas Lt. Gov: No support for gambling expansion from Senate GOP
Texas sees progress, but no approval, on gambling expansion issues
Hacker was just in his teens, naturally
Arrest of cyber hacker ‘should be a huge wakeup call’ for sports betting industry
Americans can be so naive
Dear regulators: Merrick Garland is the wrong guy to stamp out offshore betting
Good job, Tennessee, but …
Industry experts applaud removal of Tennessee’s official league data mandate
Caesars at the starting gate
Caesars first to announce sports wagering access in Kentucky
D.C. budget is missing something
D.C. budget moves forward without problem gambling funding
Timing could be right in Nebraska
First retail bets in Nebraska could coincide with College World Series in Omaha
It’s time to reassess things
Beyond bonuses: Sports betting industry shifts focus to retention
R.I.P. Doyle: One of a kind is gone
Doyle Brunson changed the game of poker and never let it pass him by
Counting up the money
New Jersey gambling revenue totals $462.7 million for April
Modest April follows a smashing March for Pennsylvania gaming revenue
Michigan: After record-setting March, April sees second-best iCasino revenue month yet
DraftKings, FanDuel wallop Massachusetts bettors for over $50M in April
Busy week in Maryland
Another Maryland mobile sportsbook, Queen Sportsbook, was awarded a license by the state’s Sports Wagering Application Review Commission. The sportsbook needs to go through final technical checks with the Maryland Lottery before it can go live in the state. The entity was given initial approval for a mobile license by the lottery at the end of April.
Additionally, SB 261 was signed into law by Maryland Gov. Wes Moore on Tuesday. The bill’s goal is to create a system where independent evaluators look into shady touts and handicappers in the state, aiming to bring increased credibility to sports betting content. It’s unclear if the bill will create the impact its sponsors desire.
SuperBook Sports also recently held a grand opening for its sports betting lounge inside Camden Yards.
— Bennett Conlin
Minnesota legalization hopes squashed
As the days left in Minnesota’s legislative session wound down, hopes in the statehouse for legalization of sports betting in 2023 faded.
“I think we’re probably out of time,” Minnesota Speaker of the House Melissa Hortman said at a Thursday press conference. “In the House, it was two or three more committees, and we’re not going to be able to take people away from the floor to have that bill move through the committees that it would need to. I think that there is a coalition of folks who are still really interested in making sure that gets done. I just don’t think it will get done this session.”
Hortman suggested sports betting legislation could be discussed again in 2024. Debate over whether Minnesota’s 11 tribes should be given a monopoly on sports wagering — horse racetracks also want in on the action — continues to hold up legalization.
— Bennett Conlin
Ohio to get another retail betting site
The Covelli Centre, where the Youngstown Phantoms play their United State Hockey League home games, is getting a retail sportsbook. Phantom Fireworks, as an owner of the hockey team, received approval for a conditional Type B sports betting license this week from the Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC).
Professional sports franchises are among the entities in Ohio that can host retail sportsbooks in addition to casinos and racinos. Officials representing Phantom, while touting the potential economic benefits the addition of the sportsbook can provide for downtown Youngstown, did not give an indication of when they expect the sportsbook to begin operations. They have yet to announce an agreement with a sportsbook operator to run it.
The OCCC also approved a Type C proprietor license for Wright Bet, a Dayton-based partner of Elys Gamy Technology, to become the state’s seventh approved supplier of betting kiosks used in bars and other lottery retail locations.
— Gary Rotstein
There’s a big Lakers fan in Illinois
Someone in Illinois could win nearly $4 million from BetRivers if the seventh-seeded Los Angeles Lakers upend the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference finals and then win the NBA title.
The operator reported that the bettor had been closely following the Lakers futures markets for both the West and NBA titles, placing nearly combined 150 wagers costing approximately $55,000. The wagers for winning the Western Conference would pay out nearly $1.2 million, while the bets for winning the NBA title — made in mid-January at 151/1 and mid-March at 40/1 – could result in a $2.6 million payday.
The bettor also is riding the Lakers to win the NBA title for the second leg of a parlay that started with the Kansas City Chiefs winning Super Bowl LVII — a combined 219/1 payout. BetRivers generated $4.9 million in revenue from pro and college basketball wagering in Illinois through the first three months of the year, posting a 4.2% hold on $116.4 million handle.
— Chris Altruda
Tweet of the week
Looking forward to everyone realizing that regulated sports betting – in catching coaches & athletes who violate the rules of college sports by betting – is working as it should by catching the perpetrators.
When it was mostly Offshore & Street betting, who was catching them?
— Joe Brennan Jr (@joebrennanjr) May 19, 2023
More of the most important, interesting stories
VEGAS BOOKS HAD NOTHING TO FEAR BUT FEAR ITSELF: Nevada sportsbooks flourishing five years after sports betting goes national (The Nevada Independent]
LET’S CATCH UP ON THESE PAST FIVE YEARS: PASPA anniversary roundtable: Five years in, what have we learned? (SBC Americas]
WHEN RISK-FREE ISN’T RISK-FREE: After a customer said a promo was deceptive, BetMGM offered him $12,000 (The Washington Post]
PUNTING FOR DOLLARS: Pat McAfee leaving $120M FanDuel contract behind to join ESPN (Yahoo Sports]
Pat McAfee says he received 4 major offers, but his show will move to ESPN beginning this fall.
The program will:
▪️ "Retain full creative control"
▪️ Not change in format
▪️ Follow 'Get Up' and 'First Take'
▪️ "Not say f**k nearly as much"
▪️ Air on ESPN, ESPN+, ESPN YouTube pic.twitter.com/JAyErtE86Q
— Front Office Sports (@FOS) May 16, 2023
MORE BAD NEWS OUT OF SOCCER: Ivan Toney banned: Brentford striker suspended for eight months over betting (BBC]
CALL OUT THE CHEATERS: Firm that helped expose Alabama baseball gambling scandal launches integrity hotline (Associated Press]
BETR GETS STILL BIGGER: Jake Paul, Joey Levy’s Betr acquires Chameleon betting platform (Front Office Sports]
MAINELY GOOD THINGS AHEAD: Maliseet chief: Mobile sports wagering promises an economic boost for Maine tribes [Bangor Daily News]