An action-packed sporting calendar ensured that licensed US sportsbooks took a record handle of $2.1 billion in August. The figures are now in for each state with legal sports wagering, and they show that New Jersey was the clear market leader. Operators in the Garden State reported a handle of $668 million in August, while Nevada players wagered $474.5 million and Pennsylvania was third with $300 million. Indiana remains in fourth place at $169 million, but Illinois is hot on its heels.
The legal sports betting sector is only just starting to gather pace in Illinois. The first land-based sportsbook opened in March, but the sporting calendar was swiftly decimated due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Mobile sports wagering then began in June, as a few sports leagues returned to action, but it was hamstrung by a legal requirement that forced players to register in-person at land-based sportsbooks. That was deeply unappealing during the age of Covid, and the total Illinois sports betting handle stood at just $61.9 million for March, June and July combined.
However, Illinois finally scrapped the in-person registration requirement on August 21, allowing players to simply register online. There was a great deal of MLB and NBA action for sports fans to bet on during August, and the handle hit $140 million, according to the Illinois Gaming Board. That represented a 166.7% increased on the $52.5 million brought in during July. It has already overtaken Colorado, and the handle should soar again in September, allowing Illinois to leapfrog Indiana and move into fourth place.
Chicago-based operator BetRivers accounted for $117.6 million of the August sports betting handle in Illinois. However, it is unlikely to hold onto that dominant position for long. FanDuel, the market leader in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, went live with its online sportsbook on August 28. DraftKings is also now live in the state, while William Hill and PointsBet also launched in September.
That increased competition should help Illinois enjoy a far larger handle when it reveals its September trading figures. The NFL season is now underway, college football is up and running, and online registration is permitted until at least October 17 courtesy of an executive order from Gov. J.B. Pritzker. Illinois has a similar population and GDP to Pennsylvania, and it is larger than New Jersey and Nevada on both counts, while it has plenty of pro sports teams in Chicago, so it could soon challenge for top spot. States have not yet released their September trading figures, but New Jersey should make an announcement in the next week or so.
Across the country, sports betting operators held onto revenue of $119.4 million in August. That represented the second highest sports betting yield in history. Online casino gaming generated $145.3 million during the month, and retail gaming generated $3 billion. “Nine states showed signs of continued recovery in August, with reduced year-over-year revenue declines compared to July,” said the American Gaming Association. “Eight states reported gaming revenue approaching last year’s level, despite continuing to operate with limited capacity, game availability, and non-gaming amenities.”
Local operators like BetRivers have struggled to compete with experienced British bookmakers in the nascent US sports betting market. William Hill built up a market leading position in Nevada and then quickly expanded across the country after the Supreme Court struck down PASPA. London-listed Paddy Power Betfair purchased FanDuel to front its US operations and became the clear market leader in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and elsewhere. Paddy Power Betfair rebranded as Flutter Entertainment, and it is now flourishing. William Hill has just agreed to a $3.7 billion takeover bid from Caesars Entertainment.
One British operator that has flown somewhat under the radar is GVC Holdings, which owns Ladbrokes, Coral, Bwin and Sportsbetting. It launched BetMGM, a joint venture with MGM Resorts, and it is now live in eight states. GVC released a trading update this week, in which it claimed that BetMGM now has a 17% share of the US sports betting market. It said that the business is “tracking ahead of expectations” and it now expects full-year net revenue in the U.S. to hit somewhere between $150 million and $160 million.
BetMGM has signed partnership and marketing deals with a number of sports teams in the past quarter, including the Denver Broncos and the Detroit Lions, and it also became the official betting partner of Nascar and the PGA Tour. It looks capable of emerging as a serious rival to FanDuel, William Hill and DraftKings. GVC stock climbed 3% in the wake of the update.
“GVC is primed for further growth,” said chief executive Shay Segev. “In the US, BetMGM continues to go from strength to strength as we roll out into new states, integrate further with our partners’ customer propositions and deliver innovative products and features. With a market share of approximately 17% across our live markets, we are making great progress towards being the leading operator in the US.”
It is now more than two years since the Supreme Court axed PASPA, allowing 49 states to join Nevada in legalizing sports betting. Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island have all launched legal sports betting industries since then. Some only permit retail sportsbooks, such as New York, but most allow online sports wagering. New Mexico casinos are also offering licensed sports betting on tribal land. Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia have all legalized sports betting, and they are pending launch.
The next three states to take the plunge could be Louisiana, Maryland and South Dakota. Voters in those states will be able to decide whether sports betting should be legalized when they go to the polls for the presidential election on November 3. The chances of legalization appear to be high in Louisiana and Maryland, while South Dakota has a reasonable chance of allowing sports betting in the city of Deadwood. “We know that sports wagering is happening in South Dakota,” said Mike Rodman, executive director of the Deadwood Gaming Association, as he implored residents to legalize it. “It’s happening illegally.”
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WBC heavyweight world titleholder Deontay Wilder will meet lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury this Saturday, in an explosive rematch of their widely criticised controversial draw in 2018. The two have publicly stated their diverse opinion one another and have citied individual fight strategies ahead of their blockbuster bout this Saturday evening.
Both men have unblemished fight records and will be eager to inflict a loss on one another’s card. Since their last meeting, Wilder (42-0-1 KOs) and Fury (29-0-1 KOs) have won two respective fights each. This battle of the brawn is the showdown the boxing world has been waiting for and both men have doubled down to settle this final bout.
Wilder has been busy since their last clash, scoring a tremendous first-round KO of Dominic Breazeale in May and six months later, Wilder had unfished business with Luis Ortiz that he concluded in 7 rounds to put the rematch to bed.
Fury has also been industrious, as the Gypsy King dispatched Tom Schwarz in two rounds in June, displaying graceful footwork and some silky boxing skills. Fury’s next punching bag came in the form of a durable Otto Wallin in September, when Fury suffered a cut in the third round before escaping with a unanimous decision victory.
This Saturday’s showdown will grab the world’s attention and is the most consequential fight the sport has seen in decades, the last time boxing put on a heavyweight bout truly worthy of global intrigue. Both titans know the magnitude of this fight, a true fight or fall battle of legacies.
At stake for the Bronze Bomber who hails from Alabama and has arguably the most powerful right hand in boxing history, is an 11th straight title defence. If Wilder can combat an in-form Fury and hold on to his belt, then he would surpass the mark set by the great Muhammed Ali, who defended his belt ten times ultimately losing it to Leon Spinks in 1978.
For Fury, a fundamentally gifted boxer, who is outlandishly spoken, possessing great speed, precision and sterling footwork, he has a colossal amount to lose. The defending lineal titleholder is fighting for Wilder’s belt and his superlative redemption story. Soon after Fury reached the top of the sport by defeating Klitschko, he fell from grace and battled weight gain, drug addiction and mental illness that derailed his life. A victory for Fury would mean that his redemption story will be complete.
The fight is being held in MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas.
The fight is expected to start at 9 pm local time.
Boxing predictions ensure that the market will be fluctuating pre-fight after the weigh-in. If the Bronze Bomber is anywhere near the 220-pound range, he could become the favourite. In their first fight, Wilder stunned the world weighing in at a meagre 212 pounds.
To go the distance (+120)
If Fury weighs near the 270-mark, then the boxing lines would climb in the Gypsy King’s favor. Regardless of the weigh-in results, Bet Today USA gives Wilder the edge. Since battling Fury, the American has shown a steady improvement steamrolling Breazeale and Ortiz in impressive fashion.
Fury to win by unanimous decision (+240)
Fury, on the other hand, has traded leather with mediocre opponents since his draw with Wilder. Wallin’s 12-round scare last September might be an indication that if a subpar opponent can push Fury to the bitter end then an in-form, dangerous Wilder could be devastating.
Fury is a master-class boxer and will be looking to take this bout down to the scorecards, but will have to be ever-vigilant of Wilder’s power and KO skills.
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The Pennsylvania sports betting handle surged past the $300 million mark for the first time in November thanks to the continued growth of online wagering. The first mobile sportsbooks only began to launch this summer in the Keystone State, but it now boasts a diverse array of leading operators. Increased online competition has helped the handle soar ever since the new NFL season began, and November was by far and away its best month on record.
Pennsylvania sportsbooks took a total of $316 million in wagers during the 30-day period. That represented a 31% increase on the previous month, which was also a record at the time. Online betting sites drove that strong growth, accounting for $266.7 million of the handle and highlighting just how important it is to have a competitive online market in order to thrive within this nascent sector. It accounted for 84.3% of all sports bets placed.
Total revenue for the month grew 15.9% to $20.6 million, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board revealed. The state takes an enormous 36% cut of that figure, meaning it pulled in $7.4 million during November. It charges a $10 million one-off licensing fee for sports betting operators too, so legalization of sports wagering has proved to be a very lucrative decision for Pennsylvania.
Critics argued that the high taxes would discourage operators from entering the market, stifle competition and cause it to struggle. Chris Christie, former governor of neighboring New Jersey, went so far as to declare that Pennsylvania had “really screwed it up” with “a ridiculously high tax rate and a ridiculously high barrier to entry”. Yet Pennsylvania is a less mature market than New Jersey, and it is closing the gap all the time.
New Jersey also broke its own record in November by taking $562 million in sports bets. Revenue was $33 million, but New Jersey only takes an 8% tax rate on retail sports wagers and 13% for online sports wagers, so it made around half of what Pennsylvania earned during the month. Pennsylvania has seven pro sports teams and a larger population than New Jersey, so it has the potential to overtake the Garden State and Nevada to seize the title of the top US sports betting jurisdiction, at least until New York rolls out online wagering or California takes the plunge.
FanDuel has seized a market-leading position in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and it continues to deliver impressive results. It took $149.7 million in online bets during November, an increase of 31.4% on the previous month. That saw it account for 56.1% of the online handle in Pennsylvania and 47.3% of the total handle.
Rush Street Gaming was a distant runner-up in November. Its BetRivers and PlaySugarHouse sites combined for $63 million in online handle, while its two retail sportsbooks – one at Rivers Pittsburgh and the other at Rivers Philadelphia, which was called SugarHouse Casino until a recent rebrand – took $17.7 million in sports wagers. Greenwood Gaming was third with $22.4 million in online handle and $8.1 million in retail handle at Parx Casino, while its other two rick and mortar sportsbooks in Philadelphia combined for an extra $5 million in handle.
Yet the competition is sure to heat up in December. DraftKings launched on November 4 and took $16.2 million in wagers in the ensuing 26 days, but that figure should shoot up in future. DraftKings is the clear number two in New Jersey, and it could eat into FanDuel’s share in Pennsylvania. Yet increased competition is likely to inspire the operators to launch more compelling bonus offers, and that should help the overall handle reach even greater heights in the months ahead.
Pennsylvania is the fifth largest state by population after California, Texas, Florida and New York. Of that quarter, New York has permitted a few upstate casinos to accept retail sports wagers – but online sports betting is banned and anyone in New York City has to head over to New Jersey or turn to illegal offshore books – while California, Texas and Florida are yet to legalize the industry. However, that could all change next year, with legislation underway in each state.
The Wall Street Journal reported this week that California voters will be able to choose from two different sports betting bills in November 2020. One sponsored by lawmakers allows online wagering, while another sponsored by a group of Native American tribes proposes that sports betting is limited to retail books at racetracks and tribal casinos. The racetracks are understandably on board with the second option, but the first bill has far greater potential to unlock California’s potential in this industry.
If California were a country it would have the fifth largest economy in the world, behind only the rest of the USA, China, Japan and Germany, and ahead of the UK, France and India. Legalization would therefore represent a colossal opportunity for sportsbooks, but it could damage Las Vegas, which relies on tourists from the Golden State.
State Sen. Bill Dodd, a Democrat representing Napa, and Assemblyman Adam Gray, a Democrat representing Merced, will hold a hearing in the California legislature on a proposal to legalize sports betting on Jan. 8. “Illegal sports betting is widespread, and it’s critical that we bring it out of the shadows to make it safer and generate funds for education,” said Dodd. “I look forward to hearing from all stakeholders at this key hearing as we analyze and develop the best approach. The Legislature’s job is to stand up for the public interest and ensure California adopts the best possible model.”
Both proposals would take the form of a constitutional amendment that legalizes sports betting. The plan put forward by Dodd and Gray would need to secure support from two-thirds of the legislature for it to be placed on the ballot in 2020. Voters could then have their say on whether sports wagering should be permitted. The tribal ballot initiative also has a target of 2020. New Jersey has taken around $3.2 billion in its first full calendar year of sports betting and Pennsylvania has now smashed through the $1 billion barrier, so that could influence lawmakers’ decisions.