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 stories, and rounding up key stories in sports betting, gaming, and the world of sports at large. You may have missed them, and they are worth reading.
Give It a Rest, Orrin Hatch
It seems outgoing Republican senator Orrin Hatch can’t give up on his dream of keeping sports betting illegal (or at least putting it on a tight leash) in the U.S. Hatch, one of the original architects of PASPA, is circulating a draft of a federal bill to regulate sports betting. But Hatch is retiring and won’t be around to see this bill through. That’s right, the longest-serving Republican senator in history — Hatch was first elected in 1976 when the original “Rocky” was in theaters and Jimmy Carter was president — is retiring. So, why draft a bill?
Hatch is as conservative as they come. He’s from Utah, one of only two states in the U.S. without a state lottery, and is against gambling, among other things. The day PASPA was overturned, he promised new legislation. But to what end? Eight states have already legalized sports betting and seven have launched. Should Hatch’s bill get any legs, what happens in those eight states? Hatch’s draft bill would mandate that sportsbooks buy their data from the professional leagues or third third-party partners, and would require sportsbooks to submit their plans to the U.S. attorney general, in hopes of getting a three-year approval to operate. Really? All this bill will do is create one more layer of red tape and allow Congress to stick its fingers into states’ business and potentially trigger the same anti-commandeering states’ rights issue that caused PASPA’s demise.
This bill — all 37 pages of it — should just go away and Congress should walk away. But just like the professional leagues, which have continued to plea for an off-the-top fee (integrity, royalty, call it what you want) and been shut out in every single state, Congress is hard-headed. This bill is just the latest example of politics gone wrong.
Mississippi Numbers Trending Up
While speaking at the Council of State Governments in Kentucky this week, Mississippi Gaming Gaming Commission deputy director Jay McDaniel shared some news about growth of the state’s market — the unaudited sports betting handle for November is $44.5 million, a significant increase over October’s $32.8 million. Sportsbooks officially report their numbers on the 15th of every month, and the Gaming Commission releases a comprehensive report on the 20th.
News: Mississippi sports betting handle (unaudited) for November was $44.5 million, up nearly 33% from October’s numbers ($33.3 million). GGR remained at 3.0% (roughly same as October), with heavy betting on local college teams and Saints. Info courtesy of Jay McDaniel of MGC.
— Daniel Wallach (@WALLACHLEGAL) December 5, 2018
If the $44.5 million holds once the numbers are audited, it would mark not only Mississippi’s biggest handle to date, but the largest month-over-month increase with all of the state’s sportsbooks open. The Beau Rivage and Gold Strike casino sportsbooks were the first to open on Aug. 1, but by the end of August, 20 sportsbooks across the state were open. The Magnolia State had $9.8 million in handle in August, $31.8 million in September, and $32.8 million in October.
McDaniel credited the November spike to college football and the New Orleans Saints, who lead the NFC South and suffered only their second loss of the season last Sunday.
Rhode Island’s Tiverton Casino Sportsbook Opens
One week after its partner sportsbook at Twin River casino launched, the sportsbook at Tiverton opened, meaning Rhode Island casinos are fully open for sports betting. There are only two casinos in the state, and both are owned by the Twin River company. The sportsbooks have partnered with the Rhode Island Lottery, and the state’s 51 percent take is the highest tax in the nation.
For the moment, Rhode Island has a monopoly on sports betting in New England, though Connecticut and Massachusetts lawmakers have actively explored sports betting, and it’s likely to be a key issue when the state legislatures in those states open next month. Rhode Island’s sportsbooks were initially targeting an Oct. 1 opening date, but missed that by nearly two months.
ICYMI at Sports Handle
More of the Most Important Stories in Sports Betting and Gaming
NOT SO STRANGE BEDFELLOWS: Sports betting operators are standing beside the NBA, MLB and PGA Tour in asking for fee. [USBets]
BRING IT ON: Boston Red Sox execs are embracing sports betting and the increased revenue it will bring. [Boston Herald]
WALTERS WON’T WALK: A federal appeals court upheld the guilty verdict for famed Las Vegas gambler Billy Walters on Tuesday. [Reuters]
THE MITTEN: Sports betting at Michigan’s doorstep, but willing to let Ohio go first [MI Bets]
CHRISTIE TO SHARE INSIGHTS: Former N.J. governor Chris Christie will speak at National Council of Legislators from Gaming States [Advocate]
WHAT’S NEXT AT YONKERS?: MGM is closing in on closing its deal for Yonkers Raceway property. Here’s what to expect. [Democrat & Chronicle]
THE LONG ROAD: Inside how sports betting went mainstream [ABC News]
In the Wider World of Sports
GET WELL, SOON ALEX SMITH: The Redskins QB is battling a post-surgical infection, and his family has asked for privacy. [WashPost]
TWITTER BEEF: Tennessee Titans Twitter Account Dunks On Darren Rovell [TBL]
NHL HEADED TO SEATTLE: The league announced it will add a 32nd team, which will start play in 2021-22. [WSJ]
WHO WILL WIN CFP?: Picks, predictions for the national semifinals and championship. Spoiler: ‘Bama favored to win again. [CBS Sports]
A-ROD, UNEXPECTED: Alex Rodriguez and Barstool Sports are launching a sports business podcast [Awful Announcing]