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 U.S. sports betting stories, highlighting some fresh news, and rounding up key stories.
PointsBet joins Illinois online sports betting party
I just placed THE FIRST @PointsBetUSA bet in Illinois! Let’s Go, Go-Go White Sox!!!
* @PointsBetIL promises to have the best price on Bears spread and ML all season
* No Juice Saturdays for every NFL game in September
* Crowd boosters for the first 3 Bears games
GET THE APP NOW pic.twitter.com/Jzqsynr21Z
— Joe Ostrowski (@JoeO670) September 12, 2020
There had been rumblings for weeks, and then all week, that PointsBet Sportsbook
was set to join the ranks of Illinois online sportsbooks. The day arrived on Saturday morning. Our Chris Altruda covers the occasion fully here.
Friend of Sports Handle Joe Ostrowski had the honor (see above) of going first, backing the Chicago White Sox to claim the Commissioner’s “piece of metal” at the end of this strange MLB season. The ChiSox currently hold a 1-game lead over the Minnesota Twins in the AL Central.
Elsewhere in Illinois
DraftKings announced yet another deal in the state. The company is already live in Illinois retail and mobile/online with DraftKings at Casino Queen and has a deal that will likely result in a sportsbook at Wrigley Field. Late this week, DraftKings announced a pact with gaming operator Accel Entertainment that will allow DraftKings to be promoted on the company’s more than 2,300 locations in Illinois.
On Thursday, FanDuel opened its retail sportsbook at the Par-A-Dice Casino in East Peoria, raising more questions about a second partnership with Fairmount Park. FanDuel went live online in a co-branding partnership with Par-A-Dice in late August despite having a deal with Fairmount Race Track. In fact, Fairmount renamed itself “FanDuel Sportsbook and Horse Racing,” earlier this year. But the track hasn’t been licensed yet, and FanDuel needed to get to market. The new book at Par-A-Dice was pulled together in six weeks after FanDuel decided to pivot.fo
And earlier in the week, Unibet announced that it will be part of the highly competitive Illinois market — where BetRivers and DraftKings preceded FanDuel in going live online — through a market-share agreement with Penn National and Kindred. Unibet will be tethered to the Argosy Casino Alton, which opened for retail sports betting days before COVID-19 shutdowns in March.
Other big things
THE SHIELD: Betcris is now the official betting partner of the NFL in Latin America [Chalk]
WHAT IT ALL MEANS: A dive into the most compelling issues/questions around the Colorado University-PointsBet partnership [Sports Handle]
CRYPTIC: Popular offshore sportsbook 5Dimes is closing to U.S. customers, but the reason, and its future, is a mystery [Sports Handle]
CHIN MUSIC CITY: Baseball in Nashville? Justin Timberlake trying to make it happen [TN Bets]
And more of the top industry and sports stories of the week
SPAC to buy Yahoo Fantasy Football and turn it into a standalone business.
— Zach Weinberg (@zachweinberg) September 10, 2020
For some of those 13% harm may result from their gambling.
Consumers deserve better! https://t.co/lZtnMSZuum
— Brianne Doura (@BrianneDoura) September 9, 2020
GOOD PLACE TO BE: ESPN’s Joe Fortenbaugh’s right in the thick of things [BSM]
BRING IT ON: Monkey Knife Fight gets bigger, challenges DK, FD. [USBets]
‘TIS THE SEASON: Fantasy football takes center stage in CBS, William Hill gambling partnership [Sportico]
BIG SPEND: Advertisers are only too happy to spend on the NFL. Here’s why. [NYT]
COMING SOON: Michigan iGaming could be live by Thanksgiving. [MiBets]
ON TV: VSiN is launching in-game betting show with DraftKings. [CDC Gaming]
WE’RE OPEN: Delaware North’s Southland retail location now open. [ArkansasOnline]
NOW IN WEST VIRGINIA: William Hill goes live online/mobile. [WVNSTV]
HE’S GOT IT ALL: What’s next for Zion Williamson? [Men’s Health]
SOUL SEARCHING? Djokovic hit an official and he’s really, really sorry. [WSJ]
"This is basically like our holiday season," says @DraftKings CEO Jason Robins on the start of the new @NFL season. He also weighs in on whether COVID-19 could cut the season short. $DKNG pic.twitter.com/T7ROTYsJPQ
— CNBC's Closing Bell (@CNBCClosingBell) September 10, 2020
This video from Arrowhead Stadium shows fans were not booing when players from the #Chiefs and #Texans gathered at midfield for a moment of unity before kickoff. #Texans HC Bill O’Brien also said after the game he didn’t hear boos.
— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) September 11, 2020
Next frontier: Legal iGaming in Michigan
In this case, ignorance isn’t bliss.
During an iDEA Growth Power Lunch Summer webinar this week, one legislator and one sportsbook operator pointed to ignorance as the reason the iGaming hasn’t been legalized at the same pace as sports betting since the fall of PASPA in 2018.
“At the risk of insulting some of Senator (Jon) Ford’s and Rep. (Brandt) Iden’s colleagues … some are not comfortable with the internet,” said FanDuel’s Cory Fox. “We’ve brought Reps to see what our offices look like and I know that our friends at DraftKings have, too. We do it so they can see a tech-forward company.”
Indiana’s Ford, who was the architect of sports betting in that state, is planning to push for legal online casino in the upcoming session.
“We are arming ourselves and will educate our colleagues and the public to some extent,” said Indiana State Senator Jon Ford during the webinar. “People didn’t understand (while we were legalizing sports betting) the gray market — they didn’t understand that people could bet on their cell phones and that it was that easy. We still have some people in Indiana that don’t believe that there is a gray market out there at all.”
As has been shown in New Jersey, the bulk of the money in sports betting is being made online/mobile. So it would seem like a natural fit to add iGaming to the mix, especially with COVID-19 starved budgets across the country. But online casino comes with enough concerns that Iden, the author of Michigan’s comprehensive iGaming law, says it must be carefully navigated.
“The perception of gaming in general — and it doesn’t really matter what jersey they wear, red or blue — they are hesitant,” Iden said. “I think there is a lot of hesitation with iGaming when it comes to addiction.”
Iden also pointed to taxation as another concern.