NASCAR Plans to Implement Sports Betting Regulations in 2019

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According to Steve Phelps, the NASCAR president, the series plans to implement guidelines in the rulebook on sports wagering next year. This announcement came in the past weekend when Dover International Speedway opened its on-site sports betting kiosk during the past weekend thus becoming the only track that allowed sports gambling on its property.

As it stands, NASCAR even allows it drivers and team members to bet on the race, something that certainly represents an interesting dynamic but is likely to change in one way or the other when the sports betting regulations are implemented in 2019.

“I think for 2019, we’ll have some rules that we’ll put in place,” Phelps commented on Sunday at Dover. “For right now, there’ll be betting here. They have a kiosk here, you can bet inside. We’ll study and see how that goes, but I think we’ll have some rules in place for sponsorship, for what betting looks like, and continue to see what happens in the landscape overall.”

The on-site sports betting kiosk at Dover International Speedway opened at 9 a.m. with a modest line NASCAR and gambling fans forming to find out more about the new offering and to hopefully cash in – most of the questions that were raised were about the NASCAR prop bets. More specifically, many of the bettors wanted to know it the stage cautions count toward the total number of cautions. As it turns, they do not – only the crash and debris cautions will count.

So far, everything seems to have picked up quite well for NASCAR, the state of Delaware as well as sports betting and horse racing at Dover. In fact, according to the general manager and senior director horse racing and sports betting at Dover Downs, John Hensley, more prop bets were offered in the last weekend when compared to what had been recorded for the average race.

New Hope for NASCAR?

NASCAR is hoping to rejuvenate the sport in the wake of the May U.S. Supreme Court ruling that abolished PASPA and lifted the federal ban on sports betting. Promoters at a number of NASCAR tracks across the country are hopeful that with legal sports wagering, NASCAR will be able to keep its declining fan base by giving them more reason to stick around. The idea is also to attract new fans who will then be given a reason to invest both emotionally and financially (through such things as bets) in the budding careers of future NASCAR stars such as Bubba Wallace, Ryan Blaney, and Austin Dillon.

Chris Powell, the president of Las Vegas Motor Speedway, considers legal betting on NASCAR activities as “manna from heaven,”:

“It very well could be a shot in the arm to NASCAR, and other forms of motorsports, because it could add a new element of excitement – whether it’s wagering on who’s going to win, or who’ll win the first segment, or a one-on-one bet, just like in golf, where it might be Bubba Watson against Tiger Woods.”

As of now, a number of betting options, auto racing included, are being offered at Dover Downs and Dover International Speedway with the betting lines being supplied by renowned bookmaker William Hill.

Congressional Hearing on Sports Betting Set for Sept. 27

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A Congressional hearing on legal sports betting in the United States has been scheduled for next week in the US capital despite massive pushback from gaming operators who believe that there is no need for a federal framework to be put in place.

The hearing which is scheduled for September 27 will involve discussion about the proliferation of legal sports betting across the country following the recent repeal of PASPA by the United States Supreme Court. Spearheading this move is the US House Committee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigation which aims to investigate the implication of the landmark Supreme Court ruling and what it would mean for the integrity of sporting activities “as well as what sorts of improper or illicit activities could arise”.

“My subcommittee will look at the implications of this SCOTUS ruling and talk about what it means for the integrity of sports as well as what sorts of improper or illicit activities could arise,” said subcommittee chairman Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.). “Ultimately, we want to determine whether or not a basic federal framework is necessary to guide states’ new gambling policies.”

Support from the Leagues

As is turns out, the September 27 hearing was scheduled about a month after Chuck Schumer, the Senate Minority Leader, released some sports betting guidelines with the support of major US professional sports leagues.

 “As legalized sports betting spreads across the states, there is a need for consistent, nationwide integrity standards to safeguard the sports millions of fans love,” the NBA, PGA Tour, and Major League Baseball said in a joint statement. “We strongly support the legislative framework outlined by Senator Schumer and we encourage Congress to adopt it.”

The leagues have often expressed concerns about how fast the states have fast-tracked sports betting regulation since the Supreme Court paved the way for legalized nationwide sports betting and therefore the introduction of a federal framework would mean that the league’s lobbyist will not have to argue out their cases with each and every state.

American Gaming Association (AGA) to Testify

The AGA’s senior vice president, Sara Slane is reportedly also set to give the association’s perspective on why states and the sovereign tribal nations are best positioned to regulate and oversee legal sports betting market. It is no secret the AGA has been a strong supporter of the abolishment of PASPA pointing out that is “an essential first step to shutting down illegal sports betting”

“Bringing sports betting activity into a transparent legal market, under state and tribal regulatory oversight, empowers law enforcement to tackle illegal gambling, provides essential consumer protection and better ensures bet and game integrity. It will also create new American jobs and generate additional local, state and federal tax revenue,” reads a statement from the AGA.

Nippon Partners with Nintendo for Splatoon 2 Esports Leagues

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Nowadays, news of domestic sports competitions venturing into Esports is becoming more and more common. A number of famous teams, leagues, and clubs from all around the world have finally decided to warm up to the idea of acquiring or starting competitive video game teams not only because it is an assured source of some extra revenue but also because it will hopefully broaden their reach.

Japan has not been left behind. The country’ pro baseball league, Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), last week announced that they had made a move into the Esports industry by partnering with Nintendo to create a new Splatoon 2 Esports league. Each of the league’s 12 clubs will be participating in the Esports league which is set to go down in Spring 2019.

To take part in the Splatoon 2 league, players will need to register for the fourth annual Splatoon Koshien event that was scheduled to kick off in July 2018. During the event, a scout from each of the 12 clubs will be around to pick team members based on their own criteria. Players who are selected will be contacted by the team for a special interview scheduled for February 2019 after which all of the 12 teams will be shown off at a special presentation in March before the Splatoon officially kicks off.

At the moment, the league’s official start date has not been announced and, on the same note, no details regarding the ruleset or the prize pool have been released. However, it is worth noting that the language on the official Splatoon Esports Series website seems to suggest that the pool will not have a prize, even though the players are likely to receive compensation for their participation. This is expected especially when considering Nintendo’s operating procedure, that is, the company does not award monetary prizes for tournaments.

Nippon’s Partnership with Konami

The Splatoon 2 Esports league is not NPB’s first Esports venture. In 2017, the baseball league partnered with Konami to host championships for its official baseball title Jikkyō Powerful Pro Yakyū which is known internationally as Power Pros. This tournament was officially recognized by the league and, furthermore, featured promotional content that involved a number of NPB stars.

Last week, NPB announced that it plans to take its relationship with Konami a notch higher with the launch of Pawapuro Pro League, a baseball Esports League that will operate in the same way as the NBA 2K league – each of the NPB clubs will be represented by three players. This one, on the other hand, will have a prize pool of 12 million yen ($12,000).

Integrity Fee Included in New N.J. Sports Betting Bill

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Just a few days ago, a top lawmaker in New Jersey called for all governors to reject the efforts by pro sports leagues to have an “integrity fee” on sports betting revenue included in the various states’ sports wagering laws. State Senate President Steve Sweeney, the lawmaker who also happens to have championed the state’s efforts to have the federal ban on sports betting overturned, said that the demands by the leagues are tantamount to “extortion.”

“Essentially, the leagues are asking to be paid to allow games to be played fairly,” Sweeney wrote. “Ironically, they are calling this extortion attempt an `integrity fee,’ even while fully aware that providing participants a stake in the volume of betting would amount to what could more accurately be called an ‘anti-integrity fee.’”

Sweeney expressed concern that the leagues had blatantly shifted their focus on getting a piece of the sports betting pie instead of concentrating on the integrity of their games. The lawmaker’s sentiments are quite justifiable especially considering the fact that, prior to realizing the inevitability of the abolishment of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), the leagues had spent millions of dollars fighting against the sports betting laws in New Jersey.

“The Leagues fought with all of their resources to stop states from allowing their citizens to legally wager on sports,” Sweeney wrote in a letter that was addressed to the governors and lawmakers in all 50 states. “Now that their efforts have been ultimately unsuccessful they wish themselves to make ‘the fast buck’ and to ‘get something for nothing.’ Essentially, the Leagues are asking to be paid to allow games to be played fairly…. Taking the Leagues at their word, giving them a ‘piece of the action,’ would make suspicions grow whenever turning-point calls in close games go in favor of the more popular team — whose presence in the ‘big game’ would drive ratings and betting.”

New Jersey, however, chose to take a different approach – the state introduced a new bill with a proposed integrity fee, only that its version of the integrity fee is completely different from the ones in other bills and the one that the professional sports leagues have been lobbying for.

What It Entails

The proposed integrity fee, called the Sports Wagering Integrity Fund, diverges from the other bills mostly because it will be controlled by the state instead of the leagues. The idea is to bypass the pro sports leagues’ push for the 1 percent integrity fee on handles while at the same time offering them an alternative to ensure that do not miss out entirely on the fund’s coffers.

The draft bill states that all the money deposited into the Sports Wagering Integrity Fund will be channeled towards the recovery of any costs and expenses incurred during investigations that will be carried out in order to maintain the integrity of sports betting.

Athletes Push for Sports Betting in Connecticut Capitol

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With the United State Supreme Court ruling on sports betting looming, Connecticut is moving closer and closer to a legalized and regulated sports betting industry. It is now even more likely thanks to the backing that the efforts to legalize sports betting have received from professional sports leagues.

Case in point, on Tuesday, two big-time major professional league sports stars brought their star power to the Connecticut capital to push for the legalization of sports betting. Former New York Mets and New York Yankees star Al Leiter and Boston Celtics legend Cedric Maxwell met with the state’s lawmakers in a bid to sway them to support sports betting.

Cedric Maxwell argued that Connecticut has an upper hand when it comes to sports betting simply because the casinos are already there. This claim has been confirmed by Major League Baseball’s senior vice president Morgan Sword who pointed out that Connecticut’s legislature is way ahead of the curve when compared to other states as far as sports betting is concerned.

“We think Connecticut has a real chance to pass a state-of-the-art statute here that could act as a model for other states,’’ Sword commented. “We’ve been very impressed with the level of expertise that these guys have on this issue.’’

Both Leiter and Maxwell expressed confidence in their beliefs that sports betting will be beneficial to basketball, baseball, as well as other sports so long as it is regulated.

“Assuming that the Supreme Court makes sports betting legal everywhere outside of Las Vegas, there’s going to be potential issues,’’ Leiter said. “I don’t know how it’s actually going to play out — whether brick and mortar or existing casinos or online. The more you broaden that, there’s got to be some regulation and some people watching to make sure that everything is done properly and maintain the integrity of the respective sport. … There has to be some oversight.’’

But That’s Not All

Despite the input by the sports stars, the state’s politics will be the major influencer of the final decision. Last week, Joe Aresimowicz, the House Speaker said that it was very unlikely that the legislation would be passed before the current legislative period ends. According to the speaker, the casino expansion and sports betting issues in the state are complex issues that require comprehensive strategies before they are enacted.

“There are just so many moving parts,” Aresimowicz said at a briefing. “We need to figure out what’s best for Connecticut.”

Intel, Shaquille O’Neal Enter Esports with NBA 2K League

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Yesterday, Intel announced its multi-year agreement with NBA 2K to become the Esports league’s official technology partner. The league which is a product of the partnership of NBA and Take-Two Interactive is set to debut in May and it will feature 17 NBA teams fielding their own Esports lineups to compete in the electronic basketball games.

Intel’s announcement further included information on the league’s technology, which will be provided by Intel – the NBA 2K games will be played on the Intel Core I7-8700K-powered Alienware PCs instead of PlayStation or Xbox. In addition to this, Intel will also be providing the tech infrastructure for tournaments, playoffs as well as regular season games.

“Intel plans to provide the best gaming experience for competitors and fans through its cloud to client solutions,” said John Bonini, vice president and general manager of the VR, Gaming and Esports Group at Intel Corporation. “Intel has been a leader in the growth of the Esports industry and community for more than 15 years, and the NBA 2K League’s fresh format will be a great showcase for Esports. With more than 15 years in the industry, Intel is committed to advancing Esports through new and innovative partnerships so it was a natural fit for us to work with the NBA 2K League to deliver our cloud to client solutions and showcase that the best experience for fans and players is on a PC with Intel Core i7 processors.”

Shaq’s Second Gaming Venture

Basketball legend Shaquille ‘Shaq’ O’Neal also recently revealed that he would be entering into the Esports arena with NBA 2K. This is the second competitive video gaming venture that Shaq will be pursuing – his beat’-em-up reboot of Shaq-Fu has proven to be quite successful.

Shaq made the announcement via his Twitter account where he also revealed that he is now the general manager of Kings Guard, an NBA 2K team. While he did not give any precise details on what the position entails, Shaq’s involvement goes in line with the NBA’s vision of the Esports league – the Esports teams are matched with actual NBA players to oversee their direction. The Sacramento Kings Guard is one of the 17 NBA-owned Esports teams that will be participating in the inaugural NBA 2K League draft that begun filling up player rosters on April 4.

NBA Getting into Esports with Creation of New League

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The inevitable advance of competitive video gaming, otherwise known as Esports, will break new ground in April when the National Basketball Association (NBA) makes history by becoming the first American professional sports organization to operate a dedicated Esports league. So far, 17 of the 30 NBA franchises have confirmed they will be fielding their own NBA 2k League teams in pursuit of the $1 million prize fund. Still, more teams are being invited to join the NBA 2K League.

To qualify to be a participant in the new league, prospective players must be at least 18 years old and be high school graduates. Also, they must have purchased a copy of the game either for PlayStation or Xbox and won no less than 50 games in Pro-Am mode prior to January 2018. Every player who meets these requirements can look forward to a six-month contract worth $35,000 as well as a $32,000 basic salary. These lucky players will be the top 102 ranking applicants of the tens of thousands who applied and they will be taking part in the opening round of the games in May.

Considered to Be the NBA’s Fourth Branch

Other than the $35,000 six-month contract and the $32,000 basic salary, the players will also have the opportunity to supplement their incomes by signing various endorsement deals. To sweeten the deal, the NBA job will also include a retirement plan, medical insurance and housing! Considering how big this budget is, the NBA certainly has huge expectations for this new venture.

In fact, NBA’s vice president of global partnerships Matt Holt confirmed that the NBA considers the eLeague to be the fourth of its branches alongside the WNBA, minor G League and even the NBA itself. This is further proven by the fact that the benefits offered to Esports players are at par with those offered to professional basketballers.

Getting a Piece of the Esports Gold Mine

The NBA’s interest in online gaming is well founded – the Esports community boasts of approximately 130 million competitive video gamers from all corners of the globe. This makes it one of the fastest growing markets in the world of entertainment with its estimated value standing at $1 billion at the moment.

NBA’s partnership with NBA 2K is an attempt at becoming one of the lucrative tournaments that have been springing up across the globe where professional Esports teams compete for huge prize money as millions of viewers watch online.

The league is taking a slightly innovative approach – they eventually seek to have an eLeague counterpart for every regular-season NBA team. The idea here is that the leagues will be complementing each other. Case in point, the NBA 2K games will kick off in May and run all through the summer, the period during NBA’s offseason.

Jennifer Lopez, Stan Kroenke, and Gillette Get into Esports

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It is now quite clear that competitive gaming is on the verge of blowing up and taking over the mainstream market – with backing from celebrities and mainstream brands it is only a matter of time before it hits big time. The most recent entrants into the eSports industry are superstar singer Jennifer Lopez and Arsenal’s majority shareholder Stan Kroenke both of whom have invested in eSports teams ahead of highly anticipated gaming competitions that will play a huge role in increasing the mainstream appeal of the already booming industry.

Jennifer Lopez bought into a team franchise that will participate in the world-renowned Overwatch League which will draw competing teams from cities like San Francisco, London, and Seoul among others. LA Gladiators, which is run by Kroenke will join in on the action once the global Overwatch League is launched in January 2018.

Kroenke and J-Lo join a host of stars who have seen the potential in eSports – they include Formula One driver Fernando Alonso as well as former basketball pro, Magic Johnson. According to Newzoo, a firm that offers market intelligence for eSports, the global eSports economy grew 34 percent year-on-year to about $660 million and is expected to hit a whopping $1.5 billion by 2020. Further estimates reveal that the current eSports audience count stands at about 385 million with a majority relying on streaming services like Twitch to watch the eSports broadcastsTwitch currently boasts of over 400 million monthly views.

Gillette is one of the mainstream brands that have actively endorsed eSports – the company has shown deep interest in participating and integrating their brand with eSports brands. Aside from just investing in League of Legends, Gillette has gone further to add one of the game’s top players, Enrique “xPeke” Cedeno Martinez to its directory of sports stars which also happens to include Brazilian soccer star Neymar.

“If you look at the growth trajectory, the revenue, the viewing numbers, everything is going north,” says Gillette marketing executive, Adam Paris. “eSports is growing at a very rapid rate. Yes, it’s finding its feet, but it feels to me that we as an industry have been talking about investing in it for two to three years at trade show panel events, but I feel it’s time to move on from talking about it and make the jump.”

‘Entourage’ Star Jerry Ferrara to Scout Knicks eSports Team

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The New York Knicks has managed to recruit ‘Entourage’ actor Jerry Ferrara as the head scout for the entry into the upcoming NBA 2K eSports League.

“It came together naturally,” Ferrara said in an interview with ESPN on Thursday. “I’m an avid Knicks fan, and I love gaming. I currently have seven games that I love playing and following. But 2K is my Number 1.”

The 38-year-old actor also mentioned how his love for NBA started off after in the early 90s after he played some basketball video games such as the NBA Playoffs and Lakers versus Celtics on Sega Genesis. Ferrara, a Brooklyn native will be part of a team that will analyze games at a combine set to be held in February next year – the combine is intended to assist in team drafting in March in preparation for the new eSports league. Other than analyzing gamers, Ferrara will also serve as a creative consultant for the eSports team. He is very excited about analyzing the gamers at the combine to which he pointed out that he could not wait to “sit in the war room during the draft.” As far as his acting career is concerned, he says the Knicks will definitely understand that he may need to leave town every once in a while for an acting job – he, however, hopes that the current situation will allow him to spend at least a couple of days every week on the job.

“I’m hoping I can help with team chemistry,” Ferrara said. “And given my background, we’re going to do some cool things with digital so that fans can learn who our players are.”

“I’m convinced if I were born 10 years later, I’d be doing something in eSports. Maybe not a pro gamer but something in this industry.”

To qualify for the NBA eSports combine, the gamers will need to win 50 games in the pro-am mode of NBA 2K18 in January. Each of the 17 NBA teams that are expected to participate in the league will be required to draft a team in March before the 16-week season begins later in May.