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 legal sports wagering, gaming, and the world of sports at large. You may have missed them, and they are worth reading.gif
NJ, PA sports betting handle holding steady and rising
This past week brought a pair of East Coast monthly revenue reports — from New Jersey and Pennsylvania — the largest legal U.S. sports betting markets outside Nevada. And the numbers showing December wagering figures, from a handle and revenue perspective, were pretty, pretty good.
Survey says: In New Jersey, the single-month betting handle record was the $562.7 million wagered in Nov. 2019. The Dec. 2019 handle, perhaps owing to fewer college football games, fell just short at $557.8 million. Consider year-over-year figures by comparison: in November and December 2018, licensed NJ sportsbooks saw $330.7 million and $319 million, respectively.
The December reports also put a bow on 2019, allowing us to measure the first full year (non-calendar) of legal operations in Jersey. Writes John Brennan for NJ Online Gambling:
Of the $4.58 billion wagered in the state, $3.84 billion of that came from bets made on laptops, desktops, and smartphones. The casinos and racetracks took in another $747 mm in bets, so the total percentage of money wagered online was 83.8%.
New Jersey taxpayers might like to know how much the state got to keep. That would be $36.5 mm, with an estimated $5 mm to $6 mm of that coming from residents of New York who crossed the Hudson River rather than visit the far upstate casinos in their own state that also offer legal sports betting.
Similar story but different timeline in Pennsylvania, where PA online sportsbooks first went live in the Spring of 2019, and total betting handle surged to a new high of $342.6 million in December.
Writes Gary Rotstein for PennBets:
The increase [from November] was all due to a boost in online wagering, which represented a new high share of 86.8% of bets, with $297.4 mm. The amount wagered online at eight sites was 11.5% higher than the month before.
The retail sector, at 12 locations, dipped 9.3% in December to $45.1 mm.
The December volume pushed the total amount wagered legally on sports in Pennsylvania in 2019 to $1.49 billion. The gaming board reported the operators retained $84.1 mm of that as revenue — a 5.6% hold percentage — and state and local governments received $30.3 mm in taxes from it.
Kentucky House vote coming
House bill sponsor Adam Koenig told Sports Handle he expects his HB 137, which would legalize state-wide mobile and retail sports betting at horse racetracks and some professional sports betting venues, to move through the Kentucky House fairly quickly.
Koenig should have an easier time getting his bill onto the governor’s desk this year than last for two reasons: 1. 2020 is a budget year, meaning only a simple majority is needed to pass a budget bill vs. a two-thirds majority in 2019; and 2. new Governor Andy Beshear not only supports the legal sports betting, but gave Koenig and the bill a “shoutout” in his State of the Commonwealth address on Tuesday.
“Last year with needing 60 votes, we had north of 51, but nowhere near 60,” Koenig said. “It will be, it’s easier to get 51, and I feel confident about that in the House. With the governor as an ally and giving me and the bill a shoutout in the State of the Commonwealth, that is a big, big thing, and I think that will get some people to change sides. I think there will be others (bills), but mine will be the vehicle.”
HB 137 got a first reading in the House on Wednesday and was set for a second Thursday, and if things move quickly, on Friday, it could be added to the “Orders of the Day,” which means it can be voted on on the House floor, likely next week. The Kentucky legislature adjourns on April 17.
Other most important stories, happenings this week
As the league (@mlb) begs for money to protect the "integrity of the game," it shows true colors.
The latest corrupt influence isn't coming from the outside — the bad actors are in the house.
— Sports Handle (@sports_handle) January 17, 2020
LOBBYING OR BULLYING: How MLB, the NBA and the PGA used ‘negotiation by bayonet’ [Athletic]
CHARLIE HUSTLE: Pete Rose feels Astros’ cheating worse than his bets, questions players getting off ‘scot-free’ [NJ.com]
TN PUBLIC WEIGHS IN: ‘Follow Nevada rules to get it right’ [SH]
INCOMING: Betfred enters Pennsylvania with Wind Creek partnership [EGR]
HEAT CHECK: Sportsbooks lukewarm on Early XFL betting potential [FoS]
MANIFEST: Penn National takes control of its own destiny [IGB-NA]
OPPOSING FORCES: Anti-gambling forces target sports betting push in KY [WLEX]
COMPLAINTS: Montana Lottery sued over rule tying sports betting to liquor licenses [Helena IR]
JOYSTICKS: eSports betting growth trajectory mirrors rise in fan viewership [FoS]
WHY NOT: National Lacrosse League teams up with MGM on betting deal [Bloomberg]
Tweets of Note
If the world were right, every regulatory agency in the US for betting would be in contact with MLB asking to be updated on the sign-stealing investigation and asking if they believe that MLB can deliver a product that is free of corruption and cheating. If the world were right.
— Richard Schuetz (@Schuetzinc) January 17, 2020
ESPN to debut BACKSTORY episode, BANNED FOR LIFE*, about Pete Rose, Shoeless Joe Jackson and gambling on MLB.
— Don Van Natta Jr. (@DVNJr) January 15, 2020
NEWS: Lawyers for the NBA, NHL, NCAA, NFL & MLB have just filed a 13-page document that alludes to a forthcoming SCOTUS cert petition in the still on-going New Jersey sports betting litigation. See excerpt below: pic.twitter.com/rqA8AeDIXo
— Ryan M. Rodenberg (@SportsLawProf) January 15, 2020
Example 47 of a lottery being out of touch with reality.
On a level playing field, small businesses don't win, especially if "level" represents pillaging the consumer.
And I'd hardly call charging small and big businesses the same $750k annual licensing fee as "level". https://t.co/e5Ib1CTgmG
— Robert DellaFave (@RobertDellaFave) January 15, 2020
If you thought this was going away today, you were wrong. Now there’s a call from Congressman Bobby Rush of Illinois for a Congressional Oversight hearing on the MLB cheating scandal. pic.twitter.com/TJlreTHKYr
— Levi Weaver (@ThreeTwoEephus) January 17, 2020
Guy can’t lose
But he’s just a good gambler, right? pic.twitter.com/CuqBKlzxi2
— Dan Lifshatz (@DanLifshatz) January 12, 2020
ICYMI around our network this week
New #GambleOn podcast! Michigan Rep. @BrandtIden joins us to talk about how he got sports betting and iGaming legalized, plus we cover the veto in Maine, progress in Kentucky, MLB "integrity" as it applies to the Astros, and NFL Championship Weekend bets: https://t.co/m6yf17krg3
— Eric Raskin (@EricRaskin) January 16, 2020