NBA Strikes Gambling Partnership with MGM Resorts

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The NBA on Tuesday, July 30, announced that it had struck a deal with MGM Resorts International to be its official gambling partner. This partnership, which is the first ever for a sports league and gambling operator marks a crucial step forward for sports betting in the United States especially considering that before the Supreme lifted the ban on sports betting, the leagues had for decades shunned any association with gambling activities.

“This is an industry and an area that we’ve been discussing a lot over the last several years, and of course, with the Supreme Court’s repeal of PASPA, it’s all come to a head,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said.

Even though the Supreme Court ruling that repealed PASPA is not likely to culminate in a federal gambling bill, the ongoing state-by-state approach for the legalization of sports betting will help the NBA and other leagues to tap into the new revenue stream that acknowledges the sports betting interests in the country. According to the sources close to the partnership, the deal is approximated to be $25 million over three years which may seem small, but the real value for the league may come through the creation of a market for their direct data feed.

MGM Resorts International will also enjoy a number of perks from the partnership. These included the rights to NBA league and team logo, highlights, access to official league data as well as recognition for being an “official gaming partner” of the NBA and WNBA. Using the aforementioned official NBA league data on its betting platforms, MGM will also be able to work with the league to detect and prevent fraud and game-fixing which have plagued both industries for a very long time.

The NHL Also Wants a Piece of the Gambling Action

The leagues have since abandoned the controversial quest for an “integrity fee” but this is not stopping some of them, including the NHL, from candidly and directly pursuing their interests in the gambling scene. According to recent reports, Gary Bettman, the NHL Commissioner, the league hopes to be paid from gambling interests for the sports intellectual properties associated with the league.

“We’ve historically been opposed to extending sports betting on our game, and, emotionally, I don’t think that’s changed. However, it is a fact of life in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling, and it’ll be up to states to decide whether or not they’re going to enact sports betting,” Bettman stated.

“From our standpoint, we believe that whether it’s our intellectual property or data, whether it’s a video of our game, we have important assets. And if somebody is going to avail themselves or want to avail themselves of those assets in order to conduct their business, then we’re going to need to have a negotiation.”

GVC Holdings, MGM Resorts Forge U.S. Gambling Joint Venture

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MGM Resorts International on Monday, July 30, announced two new partnerships that, according to CEO Jim Murren, will significantly help the company to rise above many other operators and become an industry leader in U.S. sports betting markets other than Las Vegas.

One of the two strategic partnerships is a market access agreement between MGM and Boyd Gaming which is expected to expand the scope of online and mobile gaming in the country. This partnership will offer sports betting, poker and other casino gaming platforms in the areas where either MGM Resorts International or Boyd Gaming operate a land-based casino or possess online licenses.

“Thanks to our partnership with MGM Resorts, Boyd Gaming will have the opportunity to potentially add an online presence in five additional states, positioning us for significant future growth as our respective companies take a leadership role in our industry’s evolution,” Boyd Gaming President and CEO Keith Smith.

Separately, MGM also announced that it had established a 50-50 joint venture with Europe-based GVC Holdings PLC. The venture will see both companies collaborating to establish a sports betting and online gaming platform that will have its headquarters in the United States. To capitalize on the venture, each of the companies will be raising a whopping $100 million.

GVC has made tremendous efforts to nab a share of the U.S. sports betting market and with the country’s Supreme Court having lifted the federal ban on sports betting, there are a ton of new opportunities in the nascent but rapidly growing market.

The joint venture alone will give the company access to 15 states which have around 90 million people. Added to the fact that the joint venture will also give GVC access to all the land-based gambling facilities and online sports betting platforms in the United States, there is certainly bound to be a revolution in the United States gambling scene.

“MGM Resorts is a world-leading entertainment business and the most trusted name in gaming, with the highest quality brands and management, and strong sports connectivity. This combined with GVC’s technology and experience in successfully building online gaming businesses across multiple markets presents a truly exciting opportunity for U.S. players and our respective shareholders. To be able to team up with a partner with such pedigree and knowledge, particularly in the U.S., is a real opportunity for GVC,” Kenneth Alexander, the GVC Holdings. Chief Executive Officer said.

Jim Murren, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of MGM Resorts International also commented on the joint venture saying:

“We are excited to benefit from GVC’s proprietary, best-in-class technology, digital customer acquisition expertise, and experience with adapting to new operating environments. GVC is unusually qualified due to their existing operations in the U.S. Together, we are creating a one-of-a-kind platform that we expect will dominate the U.S. sports betting market.”

SBTech Partners with Golden Nugget for Sportsbooks Venture

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Leading sports betting solutions provider, SBTech continues to snap up new business and partnerships in the United States. One of its latest deals involves a partnership with Golden Nugget Casino to launch an omnichannel sports betting solution for Golden Nugget’s casino in Mississippi in New Jersey. Under the new partnership, SBTech will be integrating its sportsbook with Golden Nugget’s existing online gaming platform in the two states, providing a full platform and a sportsbook solution that will include integration into their existing casino management systems.

In addition to this, the sport betting solutions provider will also be responsible for developing a custom and highly flexible front-end for Golden Nugget in a bid to ensure maximum differentiation. In a similar note, SBTech will apply a bespoke trading strategy and non-pooled risk management that is powered by unrivaled levels of automation which will give Golden Nugget Casinos the opportunity to shake up the United States market with its unique pricing for all sports.

“Since sports betting is a critical component of our successful expansion for online betting and gaming in the US, SBTech persisted through our arduous review process. In the end, we knew SBTech was the right partner for us because of its industry-leading retail and online technology, their significant and diverse regulatory experience, as well as its innovative product-driven approach,” Golden Nugget Casino’s senior vice president, Thomas Winter commented.

The partnership is also set to significantly contribute to SBTech’s endeavor to meet the licensing requirements set by both Mississippi and New Jersey. Both companies will benefit from SBTech’s live offering which will reinforce the long-term success of Golden Nugget’s sportsbooks. Customers can expect to enjoy some of the industry’s widest range of events and markets and groundbreaking new mobile-focused features like Action Betting and Pulse Bet, both of which will boost in-play turnover from key gaming demographics.

“I’m very pleased to confirm our latest strategic partnership with a major US operator. Golden Nugget fully shares our vision of leveraging the power of innovation to achieve sports betting success, and as the US market matures, I’m confident of the potential for further collaboration in multiple jurisdictions,” Richard Carter, the SBTech CEO said.

SBTech’s Partnership with Rocket X

Rocket X, which operates a number of gambling sites in the United Kingdome has also recently struck a partnership deal with SBTech. This one also involves supplying the former’s sportsbook to a number of UK-facing sites. The partnership was contracted directly in conjunction with LeoVegas, a leading Swedish mobile gaming operator that created the Rocket X brands earlier in March in a move to consolidate its UK assets.

“The strength of SBTech’s in-play coverage, its technological and regulatory expertise, proven track record of powering high-growth operators in the UK and wide range of responsible gambling controls were at the heart of our decision to sign this agreement. With the power of one of the industry’s top sportsbooks behind us, I’m confident of achieving a significant share in the uniquely competitive UK market,” Rocket X CEO, Mark Good said.

Mississippi Sports Betting Is Legalized, Casinos Not Ready

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Last year Mississippi changed its state law in anticipation of the United States Supreme Court ruling that repealed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). This was done by removing the prohibition on sports wagering within a bill that was meant to legalize daily fantasy sports in the state. The Gardenia State then went ahead to approve a number of regulations that were tailored to govern the newly legalized sports betting market – this was done last month and also involved a few tweaks from the originally proposed draft rules.

These new regulations include clauses that limit mobile gambling options for sports bettors. Furthermore, sports betting in the state will only be allowed at physical sportsbooks or through smartphones within an approved casino. As such, sports bettors will have to be located within the premises of a land- or water-based casino in order to place sports bets. Bettors will be able to wager at a casino’s restaurant, but not while in the parking garage.

Legalized sports betting at Mississippi casinos was set to officially begin today (July 22), but this is quite unlikely. The date was agreed upon on June 21 when the Mississippi Gaming Commission approved the state’s sports betting regulations. The gambling regulator set a 30-day waiting period that would precede the official date when the casino operators would be finally allowed to offers sports betting services.

The Casinos Are Taking Their Time

According to Commissioner Allen Godfrey, all of the Gardenia State’s casinos that have applied to offer sports betting are still in the process of carving out space in their businesses to build sports bars and tailoring their offerings to fit the state law requirements before they are approved for operation. Each casino’s sports betting operation will have to be approved by the Mississippi Gaming Commission staff and while a decent number of them are already in the renovation phase, no specific opening dates have been provided.

The Sun Herald of Biloxi recently reported that the casinos are taking their time with the preparations particularly because they intend to have sports betting fully in place by the time the football season kicks off in late August or early September. This gives a better picture of when we might finally get to see sports betting go live in Mississippi.

Sun Herald also reports that a decent number of the 12 Mississippi Coast casinos including Beau Rivage, Palace, Boomtown in Biloxi and Harrahs have already begun renovating their space into sportsbooks. Other joints, such as Scarlet Pearl in D’Iberviller and IP in Biloxi have even been advertising various sportsbook jobs for the past few weeks.

“Let’s keep our eyes wide open and focus on doing it right and providing quality product and allow it to mature into what it will become,” Keith Crosby the Palace Casino general manager told the Sun Herald.

FanDuel to Launch Online Casino and Sports Betting in N.J.

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Renowned fantasy sports provider, FanDuel, has recently announced its plans to launch an online casino alongside a sports betting offering in New Jersey. Sources reveal that the company plans to apply its branding to an online casino through its licensing affiliation with the Golden Nugget Casino in Atlantic City. On the same not, FanDuel will be providing online sports betting under the license of the Meadowlands Racetrack.

The move was rather surprising, especially because both FanDuel and DraftKings, its competitor, have previously shunned all and any association to gambling and now they are both charging forward into the gambling space with sports betting and online casino ventures.

Rebranding in Progress

FanDuel is owned by Paddy Power Betfair which is one of the largest bookmakers in existence – the European bookmaker acquired FanDuel last week, thus finally closing a deal that was struck in May.

“Today is a milestone for the sports industry. We are excited to share that we closed our previously announced merger agreement with Paddy Power Betfair to combine our US businesses, allowing us to move forward with our promise to provide you, our loyal users, an even better experience,” an e-mail FanDuel wrote for to its customers read.

FanDuel will be serving as the face of Paddy Power Betfair’s United States operations that included sports betting and online gambling platforms. One of its most notable operations is the Betfair online casino in New Jersey.

Apparently, Paddy Power Betfair chose FanDuel because of the latter’s brand and database of players which are certainly key selling points and would, in turn, compliment the plenty of sports betting tech that Paddy Power has at its disposal. In a press release, Paddy confirmed that:

“The transaction strengthens the Group’s opportunity to target the prospective US sports betting market through the addition of a strong brand, large existing customer base, and talented team.”

While Paddy will be using the FanDuel brand in the United States, the bookmaker has been trying to rebrand itself – earlier this month, it announced that its US-facing operations, Betfair US, would be changing its name to FanDuel Group. In fact, this rebranding might even affect the Betfair online casino in New Jersey.

GAN and IGT To Offer Assistance

Paddy Power Betfair is definitely a market leader in other jurisdictions but in the United States, the FanDuel group has already secured its own deals with third-party suppliers. One of these suppliers is IGT which has been tasked with providing the platform that will deliver Paddy Power Betfair’s bookmaking services to FanDuel’s sports books.

FanDuel Group further inherited Paddy Power’s partnerships with Golden Nugget and GAN, the two entities that are at present responsible for the Betfair online casino. GAN will be participating in providing logistics to power the FanDuel online casino and sportsbook operations. This will be done in conjunction with both IGT and Paddy Power Betfair.

Three Pa. Casinos Apply for State’s First iGaming License

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Last Friday, after an incredibly long period of pessimistic speculation and uncertainty pertaining to the future of Pennsylvania’s online gambling industry, three casinos finally made the move to forward their applications for the first online gambling license. The casinos, Poconos-based Mt. Air, Parx Casino in Bethlehem and the Stadium Casino that is yet to be built in Philadelphia all hope to offer online gambling services in the near future. This, in essence, sets the ball rolling on the launch of legalized online casino gambling in the Keystone State which in the past couple months seemed to be almost stagnant.

According to Douglas Harbach, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) spokesperson, the three casino operators each filed a petition for the $10 million licenses on Friday. The licenses will allow them to offer interactive online gaming in three categories: non-peer-to-peer interactive table games; peer-to-peer interactive games like poker; and interactive games that simulate slot machines.

The license application period for all three categories of internet casino games remains open till Monday, July 16 for all of the Keystone State’s 13 casinos. When this period finally elapses on Monday, the next stage will come into play – the 13 casinos will have a month from July 16 to apply for any of the individual gaming categories for $4 million each. In case there are any more remaining licenses after August 16, the PGCB will then open the application process to the qualified operators who do not have Pennsylvania Casino licenses.

Things Are Looking Up for Mt. Airy

Even though it is the smallest Category 2 casino in the state, Mt. Airy has some pretty huge ambition and plans to boot. The casino took its first step towards conquering the online space in 2014 when it partnered with the 888. Since then both 888 and Mt. Airy have only been able to serve as promotional partners before things took an unexpected but welcome turn in October 2017 when Pennsylvania legalized interactive gaming last year.

Other than 888, Mt. Airy has also partnered with PokerStars – both partnerships will certainly include portions of the revenue from the skins attached to the licensee’s name. In fact, the partnerships will also go a long way in helping Mt. Airy to tap into other markets outside the Keystone State.

Doors Open for Sports Betting License Applications

Another highlight this week for the Pennsylvania gaming industry was a move by the state regulator to finally begin the process of sports-betting licensing. This was announced PGCB officials who clarified that the entities that could apply for the sports betting licenses included device or equipment manufacturers, sports betting system operators and other related service providers.

Even so, the 13 Pennsylvania casinos are yet to forward applications for the sports betting licenses, just like it was the case with online gambling.  This is probably due to the $10 million upfront cost and the accompanying 36 percent state and local tax rate that the sports wagering operators will have to pay in the state. Obviously, a compromise on either side will have to be reached but until then, we will just have to wait and see.

Legalized Sports Betting Finally Coming to the State of Iowa

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Ever since the United States Supreme Court made repealed PASPA in May, a number of states have been grappling with various sports betting legislation. A decent number of the states have been quite successful in launching their own sports betting industries with a few others opting for a rather slow approach as they fine-tune various elements of the regulations that will govern their sports betting ecosystems.

One of the states that are just now beginning to significantly advance its sports betting bids is Iowa. Gambling interests backed by the state’s legislators, the state lottery, and the casinos are gearing up for yet another push for the legalization of sports betting. It is anticipated that statewide sports betting in Iowa could go live by next year thus opening the doors for a number of economic benefits to both the state and the local community through the taxes paid by the operators.

With all the relevant parties having shown great support for sports betting in Iowa, the only thing that remains is for them to decide how best to go about it. Jake Highfill, the Iowa state representative has confirmed that both the Democrat and Republican politicians in the state are “all in” on the legislation.

Legislative Work Continues Behind the Scenes

As mentioned before, the window of introduction of the new legislation has now closed since the state session has been officially closed till January – there will, therefore, be no significant legislative moves till then. Still, when the next legislative session begins, it is likely that the sports betting legislation will move forward in the form of House File 2448, which had already been approved by Iowa’s Ways and Means and House State Government committees.

The biggest setback for the legislation this year was the failure of the Republican majority to reach a consensus, something that denied the Senate the chance to take an action. Fortunately, work on the issue will continue behind the scenes as legislators like Highfill prepare legislation that will be approved by all proponents of sports betting in the state.

Everyone Wants a Piece of the Action

It seems that there is an insanely high amount of interest when it comes to sports betting in Iowa – perhaps the highest in any state. Highfill pointed out that other than casinos, other entities such as the convenience stores, grocery stores, and retail outlets all want to in on sports betting. The state’s retailers want in specifically because they believe that the industry could lead to increased sales in their stores.

As expected, professional sports leagues have not been left far behind – they are still going after the so-called ‘integrity fees’ they have been lobbying for since earlier this year.

The casinos and the state lottery will still have a considerable portion of the sports betting market in Iowa especially considering the fact that a huge chunk of global sports betting is conducted through the lottery. Currently, the Iowa Lottery is currently in charge of games like scratch tickets and Powerball while the Racing and Gaming Commission oversees casino gambling.

Resorts Casino Partners with SBTech for Sports Betting

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As sports betting in New Jersey and the United States as a whole continues to pick up steam, Resorts Atlantic City has been busy adding a number of partners to support its bid to offer services to the sports betting market. Just a little over a month after landing a sportsbook partnership with renowned daily fantasy sports provider DraftKings, it was announced that Resorts on Monday, July 2 had inked a deal with SBTech, an industry-leading sports betting solutions provider for the regulated online gaming industry.

The deal will see SBTech “provide its sportsbook solution across on-property, online and mobile channels” in New Jersey. It also marks the second partnership agreement that SBTech has gotten into since the United States Supreme Court ruled to repeal the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in May. The first partnership deal was with Churchill Downs – both deals are quite similar since both casinos will be leveraging the SBTech platform for their full omnichannel offering across all channels. There will be a lot of focus on on-property solutions that will hopefully provide a land-based solution for the future.

Resorts, through the partnership, will now be able to launch a fully-integrated omnichannel sports betting solution with an emphasis on mobile-friendly features like bet builder solution Your Bet or SBTech’s live betting innovation Pulse Bet.

In addition to this, Resorts will also be outsourcing its risk management and trading SBTech – SBTech will implement a bespoke risk management strategy that will be enabled by proprietary trading operations. This will, in turn, allow Resorts Casino to achieve genuine differentiation and at the same time achieve control of its liabilities will avoiding the influence of the wider pool-based risk management.

“After conducting a comprehensive selection process to find the right sports betting supplier, we feel that SBTech offers the right combination of deep regulatory expertise in the world’s most dynamic and demanding markets and the scalability to support our ambitious multi-vertical plans,” Resorts Casino Hotel president and chief executive, Mark Giannantonio said.

Partnering with SBTech is going to be great for Resorts Casino not just because the solutions provider provides players with uninterrupted access to sports and casino products from a wide range of devices but also because SBTech has superbly flexible gaming solutions. Resorts will benefit immensely from the exceptional configurability of the SBTech platform that is further supported by the very best business intelligence and reporting capabilities.

“Our strategic partnership with Resorts represents the next stage of our long-planned penetration of the US market. SBTech’s renowned commitment to delivering leading-edge solutions across all channels and intelligent responsible gaming infrastructure will help us develop a sports betting offering that will benefit our partners and promote best practice and the strongest levels of consumer protection,” SBTech CEO, Richard Carter stated during the Monday announcement.

FanDuel Seals Sports Wagering Deal with The Greenbrier

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Renowned daily fantasy sports operator, FanDuel has recently inked the first sports betting deal in West Virginia and will, therefore, be offering sports wagering services to The Greenbrier, one of the state’s luxury resorts that also happens to be owned by Governor Jim Justice.

As per the terms of the agreement, FanDuel will be providing retail, online and mobile sports betting services to the casino which already has plans underway to launch an on-premises offering under the umbrella of The Greenbrier Casino Club brand. This deal marks FanDuel’s first sports wagering-related venture in the United States – the company is primarily recognized for its daily fantasy sports offerings and the move to sports betting is indeed a huge step for the company.

It is, however, not the company’s first stint at sports betting. Earlier this year, FanDuel merged with Paddy Power Betfair, a European bookmaker which has similar deals with Tioga Downs in New York and Meadowlands Racetrack in New Jersey.

“We are honored to be chosen to provide sports wagering services at the Greenbrier, an iconic resort in the US,” said FanDuel CEO, Matt King. “As we work towards building out a top sports betting product for the upcoming NFL season, we look forward to bringing West Virginia residents, sports fans, and visitors to the Greenbrier the best interactive sports experience on the market.”

The West Virginia-based Greenbrier plans to include an onsite wagering platform right inside the private casino that is being referred to as The Casino Club. It also has plans for a FanDuel-branded online site and mobile applications by fall. Unfortunately, no specific dates have been forwarded so far but they seem to be dependent on when the state finally decides to put its sports betting regulations in place.

“We’re excited to be able to offer this service to those guests who are interested,” said Dr. Jill Justice, President of The Greenbrier. “The Casino Club at The Greenbrier has been an attractive destination for our guests and members since its opening, and sports betting provides yet another element to the casino experience.”

Where Sports Betting Stands in West Virginia

The state had already made a move to legalize sports betting through an initial law that was passed shortly before the United States Supreme Court ruled to repeal PASPA. The law allows sports betting services to be offered at the state’s four racetrack casinos and The Greenbrier. The licenses also allow the participation of third parties who will be required to operate skins under the licensees – FanDuel is the first third-party operator to do so.

State officials have confirmed that all the casinos are in the process of working on their own sportsbooks. Each of the casinos is also allowed to pick whoever they want to run their sports betting services.

NY Legislative Session Ends with Online Poker Still in Limbo

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The state and future of online poker in New York was subject to a whole lot of speculation even though 2018 seemed like the best bet for the activity after two years of cautious optimism. However, it turns out that this year was not the safe bet that New Yorkers were hoping for after all.

The New York Assembly ended the legislative session on Wednesday at 11 p.m. thus pulling the plug on the possibility of any online poker or sports betting legislation getting passed this year. This is starting to become a norm and, therefore, in retrospective, this outcome is more of a variation of the same story that the Assembly tells every year – regardless of the fact that a number of changes have been introduced to the process, the end result is always the same.

Was 2018 All About Sports Betting?

Naturally, following the US Supreme Court ruling that repealed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), there was a lot of buzz and hype around the sports betting. As a result, online poker was once again relegated to the sidelines just like it was in 2016 when it was daily fantasy sports that were a big deal – it still is.

Unfortunately, despite the fact that the sports betting proposals stole the show at the state legislature and seemed to have support from both sides, unlike daily fantasy sports lawmakers were not able to reach an eleventh-hour consensus when it came to online poker. Sports betting joins a pile of other unfinished business – including online poker – which will hopefully be finished during the 2019 legislative session.

Still, there is no absolute certainty that the legislation will go as expected in 2019. This year, it was quite evident that the chaos in the legislature, especially the Senate, was starting to get out of hand – it was even worse as the session neared its end. This is probably one of the reasons why the online poker and sports betting bills were not passed even though New York was a favorite to pass at least one of these legislations this year.

What Now?

There is almost absolute certainty that the New York legislature will revisit the sports betting bill come next year. This is mainly because passing on sports betting will undoubtedly put the state at a competitive disadvantage to other states such as Delaware and New Jersey who have already legalized sports betting. Reportedly, the Assembly was just a little less than ten votes shy of a majority and the idea of adding online poker into the mix had been floated around earlier this year.

For the most part, until the 2019 legislative session begins, the leaders have plenty of time to carefully craft legislation that majority of the lawmakers can agree on. For now, we will just have to wait and see the developments that await.