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.
Also check out this week’s Wide World of Gambling at US Bets.
Caesars and William Hill
This week’s biggest industry news was of Caesars Entertainment announcing that it had agreed to terms on the acquisition of UK-based bookmaker William Hill for $3.7 billion, in an effort to further expand its position in the rapidly growing U.S. sports betting and online gambling markets.
“The opportunity to combine our land based-casinos, sports betting, and online gaming in the U.S. is a truly exciting prospect,” Caesars Entertainment CEO Tom Reeg said in a statement. “William Hill’s sports betting expertise will complement Caesars’ current offering, enabling the combined group to serve our customers in the fast-growing U.S. sports betting and online market. We look forward to working with William Hill to support future growth in the U.S. by providing our customers with a superior and comprehensive experience across all areas of gaming, sports betting, and entertainment.”
“The William Hill Board believes this is the best option for William Hill at an attractive price for shareholders,” said Roger Devlin, chairman of William Hill.
Latest on 5Dimes and the offshore-onshore divide
Could offshore sportsbook 5Dimes become the first black-gray market bookmaker to move into good graces on U.S. soil? That is the direction the company suggests it intends to pursue after the company and owner Laura Varela made a deal with the Justice Department to pay a $46.8 million settlement. The DOJ won’t pursue criminal or civil charges against the company or Varela for any crimes committed prior to Sept. 30, 2020 (tax-related crimes excepted).
While the company has already incorporated in Delaware, multiple industry sources say more will be required — including the company ridding itself of anyone involved in day-to-day operations prior to Sept. 30 — before any state would consider allowing a new version of 5Dimes to operate.
In any case, 5Dimes shouldn’t expect an easy transition into the legal landscape, if any at all. Some speculate that assurances the company (or Varela) received in the settlement came with some promises about its potential status within the U.S. — but it is possible that the only assurance granted is the one that appears on the surface: a non-prosecution agreement.
The Tennessee Titans this week became the first NFL team to experience a COVID-19 outbreak (the Patriots may now be the second following Cam Newton’s positive test on Saturday), and while the NFL initially thought it could push the game a few days (paving the way for Tuesday Night Football?), it now appears the game will be indefinitely postponed. On Thursday, one more player and staff member joined five others who had already tested positive.
Ramifications of the positive tests reverberated through the sports betting world as multiple operators pulled lines for the game and some Titans futures bets could be jeopardy, depending on how long it is before the team returns to the field and/or how many games are played this season.
More of the most important, interesting stories this week
INTERSTATE LOVE SONG: Michigan Senate passes bill to enable interstate online poker compacts [MI Bets]
TOO HOT TO HANDLE: Operators shouldn’t have to ‘hold’ 10% of wagers [Tennessean]
BALLOT BOX: Maryland legal betting ballot initiative examined [Reason]
BIG RAISE: Penn National raises almost a billion in stock sale. [CDC Gaming]
DONE DEAL: Billionaire brothers set to rake in $220 million in William Hill-Caesars deal. [Bloomberg]
This past weekend, I visited Parx Freehold – the new sportsbook in New Jersey.
After four hours, they escorted me out of the building for just betting.
I am “undesirable” just because I win.
This is what Sports Betting in America has become.
— spanky (@spanky) October 1, 2020
Can we talk about the @spanky treatment at Freehold. Slept on it. Still can't believe it. It's an embarrassment to the entire sports book industry. The bigger issue here is just how poor some of you or your data feeds must be. #sportsbetting Don't go to Freehold either
— Robert Walker (@robertusfsports) October 2, 2020
SEEING BLUE AND RED: DraftKings was a big winner after one bettor wagered $1 million on the Giants. [CBS Sports]
SETTING THE STAGE: Nebraska voters could OK casino gaming at racetracks. [JournalStar]
QUARANTINE: One Las Vegas counselor is seeing a rise in problem gambling during pandemic. [KTNV]
CHICAGOLAND: PointsBet launches retail book at Illinois’ Hawthorne. [SH]
EAGLES MAKE IT 3: Sports betting partners, by adding DraftKings. [PennBets]
PULLING UP A STOOL: Looks like Michigan, and then NJ. [NJOG]
This will be drowned out by the Trump news, but Mike Postle is suing me, @Angry_Polak, @ESPN, @Pokernews, @PhilGalfond, @haralabob, @BartHanson, @RealKidPoker, @JonathanLittle, @Joeingram1, and @DougPolkVids for defamation.
Suit is obviously frivolous and I will fight it. pic.twitter.com/JiZANp3mWH
— Todd Witteles (@ToddWitteles) October 2, 2020