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 U.S. sports betting headlines, highlighting some fresh news, and rounding up key stories.
Top stories around our network this week
The large states of Florida and California have many differences politically and culturally, but one shared aspect is how the future of legal sports betting for both — unlike in most states — is tied inextricably to their Indian tribes. The details in each state, however, have about as much in common as the bankrolls of the Tampa Bay Rays and Los Angeles Dodgers.
In Florida, the Seminoles are a very powerful tribe that has prospered from casino gambling and has been granted a virtual monopoly to run sports wagering through its compact with the state. A two-year court fight by parimutuels in the state to block the compact had put the tribe’s Hard Rock Bet online app on ice, but things heated up again this week.
Recent court rulings enabled the Seminoles to resume taking bets, which is just what they did Tuesday with absolutely no advance word to the media, courts, or anyone else about the new launch of Hard Rock Bet.
The surprise in that move stems from there still being pending state and federal court cases from the parimutuels trying to block the compact as illegal. Emphasizing the point on the day of the launch, West Flagler and Associates filed a new request with the state Supreme Court seeking to have it force the betting site to shut down.
There is no set time frame for the court to act on the request. In the meantime, the Seminoles are taking bets on a limited basis from those who either were sportsbook customers previously or qualify as rewards program members with the tribe’s six Florida casinos. This is in advance of the mobile platform being made available to the general public, which will have access starting Dec. 7 to retail sportsbooks opening at those casinos.
Thousands of miles to the west, there is no online or retail sports betting available in California, but the debate over it has been reignited in a controversial manner. Indian Country controls casino gambling in the state, and its leaders were chagrined not to be consulted by private individuals filing a plan to again pursue approval of legalized sports betting by ballot initiative — just a year after the tribes successfully derailed a similar effort by commercial companies.
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It seems clear that prospects for legalized sports betting in California are very dim without the tribes being on board, and while the newest proposal would essentially have them in charge of it, the fact that they had no role in developing it will keep them from embracing any 2024 referendum. They appear more open to considering a proposal for 2026, but only if they are involved in devising it from the get-go.
Between them, California and Florida have more than 60 million residents — nearly one-fifth the country’s population — making their future very important to every stakeholder involved in the sports betting industry. For that reason, Sports Handle covers their ongoing developments as major news. Our staff covers much more, however, as shown in the linked stories below from the past week. And for additional gaming industry news, be sure to check out US Bets, including its weekly Double Down recap column and Gamble On podcast.
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The NCAA’s tweaks just keep coming
North Carolina gets a little closer
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Rivals become allies for a cause
We bet this would finally happen
DraftKings out to quick lead in Maine
The Maine State Police’s Gambling Control Unit released figures detailing the first five days of sports wagering following the state’s Nov. 3 launch, showing DraftKings quickly establishing dominance in the state.
DraftKings accounted for 88% of the $5.5 million handle generated, accepting $4.8 million worth of wagers. It reported $1.2 million in adjusted gross revenue for a robust hold of 24.6%. The first NFL Sunday of betting proved particularly popular, with DraftKings showing handle of $1.6 million that day and a 21.5% hold from it to claim more than $341,000 in AGR.
Caesars’ opening five days were more modest, totaling just shy of $661,000 handle and $147,000 in revenue for a 22.2% win rate. Just over one-third of the handle — $220,955 — came on Sunday, and Caesars had a 16.4% hold that day to keep more than $36,000 in winnings.
Maine taxes adjusted revenue at 10%, which netted the state more than $132,000 from the first five days.
— Chris Altruda
Ohio proposes new promo regs
Following up on concerns it raised with Fanatics Sportsbook months ago over a merchandise-related betting promotion, the Ohio Casino Control Commission has proposed regulations intended to make sure operators don’t market such offers to underage individuals.
The commission has given sports betting stakeholders until Nov. 30 to comment on a new rule prohibiting promotions or bonuses “in connection with or as a result of a non-gaming, consumer transaction” if they could target “individuals under the age of twenty-one, other individuals who are ineligible to participate in sports gaming, individuals with gambling problems, or other vulnerable individuals.”
In May, Fanatics complied with a request from the Ohio regulator to discontinue a promotion that provided potential sportsbook bonus bets to customers purchasing merchandise online.
— Gary Rotstein
FanDuel not fretting Q3 defeat to DraftKings
Despite ceding the nation’s top spot to arch rival DraftKings in the third quarter of this year, FanDuel‘s parent company, Flutter, does not appear overly concerned.
The U.K.-based Flutter remains bullish on the operator’s long-term growth plans. For the three-month period ended Sept. 30, FanDuel delivered revenue growth of 52% from the year-ago quarter. While FanDuel rose to No. 2 nationally in iGaming (23%), the operator fell behind DraftKings in combined sports betting and iGaming market share.
Flutter now anticipates full-year revenue from FanDuel of £3.75 billion ($4.7 billion) and Adjusted EBITDA of £140 million ($180 million), two targets listed at the midpoint of its previous guidance. Rejecting any suggestion that FanDuel is on a downward trajectory, Flutter CEO Peter Jackson noted that the U.S. division is on track to “transform the earnings profile of the group”.
Flutter has also submitted an application to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for a listing on a U.S. exchange, the company noted. Flutter said it expects to complete an additional listing on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in the first quarter of 2024, while delisting from Euronext Dublin around the same time.
— Matt Rybaltowski
Missouri still at odds over wagering, VLTs
The fate of statewide mobile wagering in Missouri may already be moot before the 2024 legislative session even begins. Andy Arnold, lobbyist for the Missouri Coalition for Video Gaming told the Missouri Independent this week that “the casinos don’t want to give any opportunity for anybody outside of a casino to have a gaming opportunity at all. And even if they could participate in that opportunity, they want to control it all.”
Linking video lottery terminals to legal sports betting has been a non-starter for Missouri lawmakers and casinos for years, and in 2022 and 2023, Sen. Denny Hoskins killed sports betting bills backed by teams and casinos in an effort to link VLTs to wagering.
“We’ve always had the opinion that sports betting and any discussion on VLTs or those type topics need to be separate discussions, and that’s still where we are on that,” Mike Winter, lobbyist for the Missouri Gaming Association, told the Independent.
Amid the disagreement, a group of the state’s professional sports teams have filed multiple ballot proposals that would legalize statewide digital wagering. The teams previously had an alliance with the state’s casinos, but the casinos won’t support the ballot proposals. The pre-filing date for 2024 bills is Dec. 1.
— Jill R. Dorson
More of the most important, interesting stories
IGT IN A MINNESOTA STATE OF MIND: Big player in casino industry keeping close eye on effort in Minnesota to legalize sports betting [Star Tribune]
IT’S COMPLICATED, MISSOURI: Players in Missouri gambling debate chase stakes worth billions [Missouri Independent]
JUST WAIT ‘TIL NEXT YEAR, SOUTH CAROLINA: Push is on for S.C. betting ahead of Fall Steeplechase [WRDW]
THAT CUBAN DREAMS BIG: Mark Cuban: “I’d like to see resort casino gambling,” plans for making Texas a destination [Texas Metro News]
Mark Cuban: ‘I’d like to see resort casino gambling,’ plans for making Texas a destination https://t.co/M36lgYVjxO
— Dallas Morning News (@dallasnews) November 3, 2023
IOWANS LOSE AN OPTION: Hard Rock Sportsbook Iowa shutting down due to a change in ownership [Yogonet]
HOW ARE THINGS ON RUSH STREET ANYWAY? Rush Street CEO paints expansive picture during earnings call [CDC Gaming Reports]
SOMEONE’S ALWAYS GOTTA BE A CRITIC: Opinion: Sports betting tarnishes the integrity of every league [Montreal Gazette]
IOWA GOES LOW LIKE NO ONE ELSE: Hype Trap Bet: Exploring the trends behind Iowa’s over/unders [ESPN.com]