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 US sports betting stories, highlighting some fresh news, and rounding up key stories. Also check out this week’s Wild World of Gambling at US Bets.
Top stories around our network this week
As you probably know, Better Collective, whose network of Web sites includes Sports Handle, opened the purse this week to buy The Action Network for $240 million. Read Brett Smiley’s story for details on and thinking behind deal, including conversations with Action CEO Patrick Reade and BC’s U.S. CEO Marc Pedersen.
Smiley and ‘Get A Grip’ podcast co-host Dave Sharapan discuss here as well (below), plus Eric Raskin and John Brennan caught up with Action’s Head of Content Chad Millman, featured as this week’s guest on US Bets’ ‘Gamble On’ show.
Other big ones
This is kind of a big deal.
Caesars is dropping the William Hill name.
— Sports Handle (@sports_handle) May 5, 2021
— Marc Edelman (@MarcEdelman) May 7, 2021
Ahead of special session, FL voters leery
Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson and Speaker of the House Chris Sprowls on Wednesday formally filed a joint proclamation and projected schedule for the special session for sports betting, set to begin May 17 in Tallahassee. In the memo, Simpson also noted that additional legislation “which together achieve a number of objectives related to the implementation of various provisions of the Compact, and the future of gaming in our state” will be filed for the session.
Sports betting and the compact will be the only topics of the special session, and lawmakers will be tasked with approving the compact the Seminole Tribe and Gov. Ron DeSantis approved on April 23, as well as passing legislation to make sports betting legal. The compact appears to give the Seminole Tribe a virtual monopoly on digital sports betting, but would allow it to partner with parimutuel locations wishing to have their own retail wagering locations. Those parimutuels could potentially partner with other operators.
As the legislature moves forward, Floridians may not be quite ready for expanded gaming. A study of 800 residents commissioned by No Casinos showed that 76% of voters think the decision to legalize sports betting should go to the voters, and 66% said the proposal is “blatantly unconstitutional,” according to Florida Politics. Despite the compact and potential legislation, many stakeholders say this gambling expansion violates Amendment 3. Interestingly, 50% of voters said that just because a server is located on tribal lands does not mean a bet was made on tribal lands.
According to the projected schedule, the session will convene at 1 p.m. May 17. The compact and the issue of sports betting will be heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee beginning at 2 p.m. that day, and the session is set to end May 21, at the latest.
Big changes in Tennessee
Tennessee lawmakers this week stripped power from the Tennessee Education Lottery Corp. by passing SB 588, a bill that would allow the Sports Wagering Advisory Council to make decisions on sports betting with the TELC consulting. The bill initially passed the Senate on April 22. On May 4, an amended version of the bill passed the full House, 73-13-4, before being sent on to the Senate. Amendment No. 1 appears to clean up language, but preserves the intent of the bill, which was sent back to and unanimously approved by the Senate, 27-0, on May 5.
“This allows the Sports Wagering Advisory Council to be autonomous and act in their scope of authority outside of the current TELC,” said bill sponsor John Gillespie said when the bill first came up for discussion in the House in April.
When Tennessee’s sports betting law was initially written, the TELC’s Board of Directors was tasked with implementing rules, calling meetings, and making critical decisions. The Advisory Council was created as a consultant, but the nine-member panel would now be in control. The TELC has been under fire in recent months first approving a local operator to go allow consumers to take flex loans and wager in the same building, and then bungling the response to a lawsuit over the issue.
SB 588 will now be sent to Gov. Bill Lee for his signature.
Lots of talk, no action in Louisiana
Louisiana’s Senate Judiciary B Committee on Tuesday morning approved a substitute to SB 202, which would allow for statewide mobile sports wagering, and then opted to hold over the bill pending passage of a related tax bill. Louisianans in November 2020 legalized sports betting via referendum, and lawmakers are in the process of developing a framework for it, but a two-thirds majority is required to pass any tax-related bill in the state.
HB 697, the House version of a framework, is on the agenda for discussion on the House floor on May 10, and the tax bill, HB 688, got brief discussion on May 4, but was held over until May 11. Lawmakers said the don’t want to take time discussing a tax bill until the sports betting framework bill has been approved.
After voters legalized sports betting on the November 2020 ballot, lawmakers are sorting the details of sports betting, which would be legal at retail casinos and racetracks and via digital platforms. Legislators are eyeing an operator-friendly 10% tax rate, and would set the retail application fee at $250,000 with the license fee at $500,000 for five years. The mobile application fee would be $100,000 with a $250,000 (for five years) renewal fee.
No sports betting in Alabama this year
A package of gaming bills that would have added a lottery and legalized sports betting in Alabama failed to come up for discussion on the House floor Thursday night, likely signaling it won’t pass this year. Thursday was the 29th day of a 30-day session, and Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon told AL.com the measure didn’t have enough votes and that it’s “doubtful” a gaming expansion would pass on the final day, set for May 17. The Senate passed a three-bill gaming package on April 13, but the House has been unable to come to a consensus. Thursday morning, Gov. Kay Ivey voiced her support for the gaming expansion earlier in the day, calling the legislation “a true bipartisan effort.”
More of the most interesting, important stories
After 43 years taking bets in Las Vegas, Art Manteris, vice president of race and sports at Station Casinos, is retiring.https://t.co/gsHlaIctEG
— David Payne Purdum (@DavidPurdum) May 7, 2021
The Nevada Gaming Control Board said Monday it will host a workshop on May 13, to discuss draft regulatory amendments that would allow for other forms of interactive gaming beyond online poker games. @GamblingComp https://t.co/3SCpd5w8Fu
— Chris Sieroty (@sierotyfeatures) May 4, 2021
This was the most obvious development in the history of sports media. https://t.co/uiPNBKRMD0
— Brad Evans (@NoisyHuevos) May 3, 2021
ANOTHER: Suquamish Tribe second to reach deal with Washington State [MyNorthwest]
WELCOME: Kelly Stewart joins ESPN as sports betting analyst [Press Room]
CONVERGENCE: Sports betting giants invading sports media space [FOS]
FOR EXAMPLE: FOX acquires Outkick with eye toward wagering [BSM]
CANADA COUNTDOWN: Sports betting passes second reading; deadline looms. [iPolitics]
TOO MUCH: ‘It’s overtaken football’ – EFL club owner calls for gambling sponsorship ban [Mirror]
FINALLY: Three years after Louisiana voters approved DFS, FanDuel to go live in fall [KLFY]
RUNWAY: Sportradar, Boehy’s Horizon SPAC extend acquisition window [Sportico]
WE’RE BEGGING: Ex-Hornets players go door-to-door for sports betting in legislature [WRAL]
A FIRST: Indiana governor signs first gaming pact with state’s only tribe [WNDU]
GOING UP: Sports betting revenue went up 595% in Oregon in April [iGaming]
Have a good weekend, all.