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 week started with a bang on Monday when out of the vapors and perhaps out of order, as may be alleged in a certain legal battle, the Seminole Tribe launched its Hard Rock Sportsbook online betting app in Florida. It came just in time for the New York Giants to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory at the Kansas City Chiefs.
The only competition the tribe’s platform currently faces is in a court of law, though experts who spoke with our Jill R. Dorson believe it’s a futile effort. And of course there’s the ballot initiative led by DraftKings and FanDuel that, if it gains enough signatures and clears certain procedural hurdles, would allow voters to decide in November 2022 if they wish to invite some competition in the market.
On with the program. Here’s the top stories around our network this week.
A trio of New York developments, costs, and considerations
On Penn’s Portnoy problem
Look who’s talking now
Connection and an authentic community
Just another record
Not quite as good as co-exclusive
Maybe too many damn sportsbook ads sank it
Parsing the numbers
Changing of the guards
Monthly stock watch
Bets on the bayou
Welcome to the party
Game on in California referendum sweeps
The California Attorney General’s Office issued a title and summary Thursday to the “California Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Health Support Act,” the proposed initiative put forth by a group of seven commercial operators that would allow for statewide mobile wagering. The political committee running the proposal can now begin collecting the nearly 1 million signatures needed to get on the November 2022 ballot.
While the proposal is backed by the commercial operators, it does call for those operators to be tethered to tribal casinos in order to offer wagering. In the summary, the AG’s office wrote “Such wagering may be offered only by federally recognized Indian tribes and eligible businesses that contract with them.”
The language could certainly confuse voters, as it seems to imply that the tribes support the referendum, which last week they publicly stated they do not. The tribes already qualified their own referendum that would allow retail-only wagering, and there could be a another mobile initiative coming that is, in fact, backed by the tribes.
In total, there could be four sports betting-related initiatives on the ballot, as a group of cities and card rooms also pitched an initiative that would allow for statewide mobile wagering and retail wagering at card rooms, horse race tracks, tribal casinos, and professional sports venues. That proposal got a title and summary several weeks ago, and proponents are in the signature-gathering process.
— Jill R. Dorson
Business booming in Connecticut
As we near the first full month of wagering in Connecticut, GeoComply confirms that New York bettors continue to flock to the state to wager. In the first week, the company reported that 38% of all “geolocation verifications” originated near the Connecticut-New York border, particularly in or near the towns of Stamford and Greenwich, both locations from which many commute to New York for work.
A GeoComply spokesman further said that mobile betting activity was next highest in Bridgeport and Hartford, two of the state’s biggest cities. While Massachusetts does not yet have mobile wagering, activity along that border was limited. But that’s likely due to the rural nature of the area.
GeoComply Vice President of Government Affairs Chad Kornet said the company had tracked 7.2 million “geolocation verifications” as of Thursday. He said the level of verifications has remained steady since DraftKings, FanDuel, and PlaySugarHouse launched Oct. 12.
“It’s pretty early, but I’d say generally that we were impressed with the splash,” Kornett told Sports Handle. “It’s more activity than was expected based on the population. It’s been kind of steady since. It’s not like intense growth, but it’s been steady.”
In addition to the three mobile platforms, the Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun tribal casinos have retail wagering and the lottery, in partnership with Rush Street Interactive and Sportech, has opened retail locations in Bradley, New Haven, and Stamford.
— Jill R. Dorson
WynnBET gains market access to West Virginia
Delaware North owns and operates a pair of casinos in West Virginia, both of which have retail sportsbooks. The company also owns Betly, one of the five sports betting apps offered in the state. WynnBET is the state’s sixth digital platform in addition to Betly, BetMGM, Caesars, DraftKings, and FanDuel.
WynnBET now has market access in 18 states and is available live in Arizona, Colorado, Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey, Tennessee, and Virginia.
— Bennett Conlin
DraftKings and iHeartMedia have ‘relationship’
DraftKings and iHeartMedia announced a “multi-year strategic relationship” Wednesday. The agreement makes DraftKings the official odds supplier for iHeartMedia, and it also comes with content-related benefits for the sports betting operator.
DraftKings can “co-create and distribute content” with its new partner, and DraftKings will gain access to iHeartMedia’s personalities. iHeartMedia boasts the largest sports audio network in the country, with podcast, digital, streaming, and broadcast products. The iHeartPodcast Sports Network receives more than 50 million monthly downloads.
“Customer engagement remains a primary focus for DraftKings, and this latest agreement with iHeartMedia amplifies our reach immensely to a dedicated audience that spans more than 160 markets across the country with the largest audio company in the U.S.,” Matt Kalish, co-founder and president of DraftKings North America, said in a statement.
— Bennett Conlin
And more of the most important, interesting stories
— DeckPrism Sports (@DeckPrism) November 5, 2021
STATUS CHECK: Bally’s is ‘complicated,’ but emphasizes growth in size and scope. [CDC Gaming]
REVITALIZED: Idled North Carolina betting legislation reemerges. [AP]
SEE-SAW: Penn National shares surge day after Insider’s Portnoy report. [NY Post]
HANDLE UP: NH bettors wager nearly $70 million in September. [Nashua Telegraph]
MORE AZ OPTIONS: BetMGM book to open at tribal location this weekend. [AZ Republic]
THE BOARD: AGA elects Hard Rock CEO Jim Allen as next board chairman. [CDC Gaming]
EVERYBODY’S DOING IT: Lawmakers to make another run at legalizing wagering. [MN Public Radio]
LOCKOUT ON THE WAY? Braves win World Series. Now on to the business of baseball. [WSJ]
BATMAN AND ROBIN: Scottie Pippen not too kind to MJ in new memoir. [NYTimes]