Author Archives: Robert McCabe

Multiple Sports Betting Bills Move Through Arizona House and Senate

Sports and gambling enthusiasts in Arizona have a reason to be hopeful, as two separate bills for sports betting legislation are now moving through both the House and Senate. Arizona is one of many states working to pass new sports betting legislation, as the United States continues to welcome what has become a booming industry, after the Supreme Court lifted the ban on sports betting in 2018. In Arizona, this legislation presents a unique challenge, as it needs to overcome a number of hurdles associated with the Arizona Tribal-State Gaming Compacts established in 2002. Despite these hurdles, many believe the opportunity to place wagers at Atlanta Braves’ Chase Field or at the Phoenix Suns’ Suns Arena could become a reality in the very near future.

The Tribal-State Gaming Compacts

Arizona has the most Native American land in the United States. This land makes up about 27% of the land in the state, a total of more than 20 million acres. The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), a federal law, gives tribes in the state the opportunity to operate casinos on these lands. The law permits gambling on Indian reservations through compacts established between the tribes and the state. There are 16 tribes in the state, and they are responsible for operating 22 casinos. All gaming revenue is required to be used for tribal governmental and charitable ventures only. Now lawmakers are weighing options for introducing sports betting into the fold.

Gambling in the state of Arizona has been limited to tribal casinos, horse and dog racing, and the official state lottery. Gambling is regulated by the state and is illegal at locations that have not been designated by the state. The Arizona Tribal-State Gaming Compacts of 2002 established rules for tribes to operate casinos on tribal lands. At the time, sports betting was prohibited throughout the state, but much has changed since then.

Two Bills with a Common Goal

The two major bills that are moving through the House and Senate are HB 2772 and SB 1797. The bills both propose event wagering and online sports betting, with up to 10 tribes and 10 professional teams licensed to provide online betting platforms. Both of these bills would open the door for online sports betting options like FanDuel or Draft Kings, and they would give fans the opportunity to place wagers at major professional sporting events. There are currently eight professional sports teams in Arizona, including franchises in the NFL, MLB, NHL and NBA.

The proposed legislation is similar to the many other plans that states across the country have rolled out, as the sports betting industry continues to grow. For example, the Washington Nationals recently announced their plans to open the first sportsbook in an MLB stadium. Many believe that these are the first steps toward a nationwide shift in the way Americans view sports betting, opening the door for many to follow the lead.

Challenges on the Path Ahead

There is still some speculation surrounding the number of licenses these bills could issue. The most confusing point of contention is that the bills allow for 10 licenses for professional teams, when there are only 8 professional teams in the state. On the other hand, the proposed legislation would only allow 10 licenses for the 16 tribes within the state. While both bills are progressing, through the House and Senate, they have faced their fair share of challenges and even more lie ahead.

HB 2772 was introduced by Rep. Jeff Weninger (R.) of LD 17 Chandler, Sun Lakes, and Gilbert. Weninger believes that this bill will do wonders to modernize gaming in the state and it will do so with the support of Gov. Doug Ducey. SB 1797 was already pulled and added as an amendment to a previous horse racing bill. After passing on a 5-4 party line vote, it moves to another vote on March 10. The current bill, which is now 1794, finds itself up against an old foe, in the form of the 2002 gaming compact between the tribes and the state. Many feel that the compact would have to be renegotiated in order for this bill to pass.

It is too early to tell whether or not either of these bills will be passed, but so far HB 2772 has gained the most traction. Once approved by the House, this bill would then go to the Senate for a vote. At the earliest, residents of Arizona could see sports betting in 2022. At this time, complications surrounding tribal gaming compacts seem to be the biggest threat to the passing of either bill. As it stands, the tribes pay roughly 8% of their casino revenue to the state. If the sports gambling bills pass, that number would decrease. The month of March will reveal whether or not either bill has the legs to move forward.

Louisiana Weighing Sports Betting Options

Like many states, Louisiana is pushing for sports betting legislation in the near future, but the when and how still leaves many questions unanswered. Sports betting hopefuls envision legal wagering for football, basketball, and many other sports within the calendar year. The Legislature is set to convene on April 12, and a sports betting bill could be introduced and passed as early as June 10. Sen. Ronnie Johns, a Republican from Lake Charles, is considered the go-to legislator for all gambling-related proposals. Johns believes that now is the perfect time for Louisiana to go all-in with sports betting.

Time is of the Essence

Legislators will certainly feel that time is an important factor in making a decision surrounding sports betting. Louisiana is already behind more than half of the country’s 50 states who have already legalized or proposed sports betting legislation. This number includes southern states like Mississippi, Georgia, and Alabama. If a bill fails to materialize and pass before legislators leave Baton Rouge on June 10, Louisianans will have to wait two more years, as tax measures can only be considered in odd-numbered years.

Some legislators fear that if a bill isn’t passed, neighboring Texas could pass a gambling expansion that would legalize sports betting, drawing Louisianans across state lines to place their wagers. That fear, however, seems like a stretch considering Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick was recently quoted saying gambling expansion bills have been halted by feuds between special interest groups.

Existing Gambling Laws in the Bayou State

While Louisiana may be lagging behind competitors when it comes to sports betting, the state has offered a wide variety of gambling opportunities for its residents. The state is currently home to 13 riverboat casinos, which draw visitors from across the country. New Orleans is also home to a land-based casino, as well as four racinos that offer a wide variety of slots and table games.

The idea to add sports betting to the list of available gaming options became a reality when voters in 55 of the 64 parishes in the state voted in favor of the proposal. Operators of video poker devices at truck stops, bars, and restaurants are hopeful that they can cash in on the potential sports betting opportunities. Now legislators are set to work throughout the spring to set tax rates and create a concrete plan for sports betting.

Following in the Footsteps of Others

The Louisiana Gaming Control Board is now faced with a challenge that has an expiration date. Johns is already drafting a bill, but he admits that there are many moving parts to consider. Wade Duty, the executive director the Baton Rouge Louisiana Casino Association has also shared that he is actively working on a draft for new legislation. While the drafting process can prove to be a tall task, officials have the benefit of looking toward many of the other states throughout the country for models of success.

One of the most important decisions that legislators must consider is whether or not sports betting should be permitted online or restricted to in-person bets inside a casino. Online betting, of course, opens the door to mobile wagers placed on bettor’s cell phones. A number of states have already successfully rolled out mobile sports wagering through geo-fencing technology. Through this technology, bettors would be permitted to place a wager in one of the 55 parishes that voted in favor of sports betting. Bets would not be able to be placed the nine rural parishes that voted against sports betting. This is similar to the system in place in New Jersey. New Jersey and many other states have also used brick-and-mortar casinos to help successfully roll out their sports betting plans. Casino operators in a number of states are responsible for contracting sports betting mobile apps, making it easy to introduce a gaming expansion that is rooted in existed regulations and guidelines.

Other states, like Mississippi, have opted for a sports betting model that only permits in-person sports wagering. In Mississippi, bettors must visit one of the 26 brick-and-mortar casinos to place their wager. Louisiana could do the same, but they have significantly fewer casinos. One option would be to allow sports betting at bars and other places that secure a license. Given the number of in-person options are limited, and the current restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, an in-person model seems unlikely.

Tax Considerations

After ironing out the decisions surrounding mobile and in-person betting, legislators need to consider how sports betting will be taxed in the bayou state. As it stands, Louisiana is struggling to finance its operations, due to the ongoing effects of COIVD-19. Many believe that sports gambling could help provide additional revenue and jobs to help alleviate some of this pressure. Fantasy sports betting, which is already legal in the state, has already brought in an estimated $375,000 in taxes in its first year. Officials believe that sports betting could generate a significantly larger figure.

The tax rates for sports betting largely depends on whether or not Louisiana chooses to go with a mobile or in-person sports wagering model. Back in 2019, an effort to legalize sports betting set the tax rates at 20%, which many felt was much too high. Most casino-based games in the state are taxed at a rate of 21.5%. If the state chooses to model their sports betting similarly to states like New Jersey, they will have to make it profitable for casinos pairing with mobile sportsbooks. Johns believes that anything higher than a 10% tax rate would make it unfeasible for casinos to maintain interest.

Officials will have to weigh all of their options in the next few months in hopes of solidifying sports betting legislation before the June 10 deadline.

Washington Football Team Lands Sports Betting Deal with FanDuel

On Wednesday, January 20, the Virginia Lottery issued a sports betting permit to the Washington Football team, making them the first franchise in the National Football League to receive a sports betting license. Thanks to its partnership with FanDuel, the Washington Football Team was able to launch a mobile sportsbook in the Commonwealth on Thursday, just in time for bettors to get in on the AFC and NFC championship games on Sunday. As it stands, the sportsbook is launching exclusively online, as the possibility of future retail sportsbooks is still being discussed.

The Evolving Stance on Sports Betting

The past five years has brought an ever-evolving stance on sports betting throughout the United States. The Supreme Court’s 2018 decision to lift the ban on sports betting in the United States has led to a wave of sports betting legislation across the country. The most-recent example of this is Virginia’s first ever sportsbook is the first to ever partner with and NFL team. The partnership offers another dimension to the growing sports betting industry in the country, as the league, who once stood in opposition to the idea of sports betting, is now welcoming partnerships like FanDuel and the Washington Football Team.

The financial details of the partnership are not yet clear. Per the NFL’s policy, NFL franchises cannot directly participate or provide sports betting. That being said, in states where sports betting is legal, teams can partner with existing sportsbooks who have a license to operate. Sports betting in Virginia was made legal after Gov. Ralph Northam signed it into law in July 2020. Six months later, the first sportsbook has officially gone live, just weeks before Super Bowl LV.

The Virginia Lottery expects to launch additional sportsbooks before the big game, but for now residents will have to wait. Large sports betting companies such as MGM, Draft Kings, and Barstool Sports have all applied for licenses in the state, but none have been approved.

A Change of Scenery

The Washington Football Team plays at FedEx Field in Maryland; however, its team headquarters and practice facility are located in neighboring Virginia. As it stands, the team pays nearly $14 million in taxes each year, and is rumored to be considering locations for a new stadium. With the new partnership, Virginia could offer the perfect location for the next stadium.

Virginia’s interest in building the new stadium has been no secret. In fact, the sportsbook is a result of the state’s sports betting legislation, which give preferential treatment to the team so that FanDuel can be the first sportsbook in the state. For now, FanDuel will display signage at FedEx Field while displaying the Washington Football Team’s logo across their mobile sportsbook.

Potential for Similar Partnerships

While the Washington Football Team and FanDuel are the first sportsbook and franchise partnership in the NFL, they certainly won’t be the last. Illinois and the District of Columbia have already taken steps toward allowing other professional teams and stadiums to receive sports betting licenses. Capital One Arena, home of the Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals, already has a retail sportsbook. Nationals Park is the next professional sports venue in Washington D.C. expected to add some type of sports betting. Elsewhere, the Chicago Cubs hope to add a sportsbook of their own.

Since the lift on the ban of sports betting in the United States, nearly every state has passed legislation or are at least considering legislation for regulated betting. Idaho, Utah, and Wisconsin are the only states that have not welcomed the idea of sports betting. Such a trend suggests that additional partnerships between professional sports franchises and big-name sports betting companies will become commonplace in the near future.

Michigan Unveils Sport Betting at Four Winds Casinos

On Monday, July 13, Michigan’s Four Winds Casinos officially launched their Four Winds Sportsbook. The three Michigan locations marked this momentous event with special guest Steve Mongo, Super Bowl Champion and ESPN personality, who appeared at Four Winds New Buffalo to place the ceremonial first bet at the new sportsbook. Mongo, a former defensive lineman for the Chicago Bears, put $20 on the Bears to win the Super Bowl this season. The bet marks the official launch of the Four Winds Sportsbook at the New Buffalo, Dowagiac, and Hartford locations. The new sportsbook gives resident access to sports betting for the first time, as professional sports begin to start again after a lengthy hiatus due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Details About the New Sportsbook

A month ago, the Four Winds Casinos reopened their doors after an unprecedented closure caused by fears surrounding the coronavirus. The casinos closed in mid-March when they were originally planning to launch their sportsbook alongside the NCAA March Madness Tournament. Now, as the casino reopens and sports are returning to play, guests can visit the sportsbook and begin placing wagers on popular sports, such as basketball, football, hockey, baseball, soccer, and much more. The launch of the new sportsbook comes at the perfect time, as many of the professional sports leagues throughout the United States are prepping for their return to play after the coronavirus pandemic brought all leagues and preseasons to a halt back in March.

The Four Winds casinos, which are owned and operated by the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi, have chosen to partner with Kambi to deliver their new product. Kambi is a well-known provider of sports betting services and is renowned for their excellence in providing software that offers odds compiling, as well as risk management. The company has partnered with other industry leaders, including DraftKings, Rush Street Gaming, and Penn National. The partnership between Four Winds and Kambi was approved by the Pokagon Gaming Commission and the Pokagon Gaming Authority. Tribal Council Chairman and CEO of the Pokagon Gaming Authority Matthew Wesaw expressed his excitement in adding the new sportsbook to the list of amenities at the existing Four Winds locations.

In order to place a wager at the Four Winds Sportsbook, bettors must scan a QR code on their phone. This QR code will give them access to another code that they can present at any of the three Four Winds locations in order to place a bet with their account. Guests can also place wagers at the 18 kiosks at the New Buffalo location or at the six kiosks at Dowagiac or Hartford locations. Frank Kennedy, Four Winds senior vice president of casino operations, praised the new sportsbook as an opportunity to tap into a new demographic of bettors.

Growth of Gambling in Michigan

Much of the gambling available in the state of Michigan is possible due to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. Under this act, residents can enjoy Native American casinos on land that is owned by the tribes within the state. In addition to the Native American casinos throughout the state, residents have the ability to place wagers on horse racing at tracks and primutuels throughout the state. Although the Supreme Court lifted the national ban on sports betting in 2018, it wasn’t until recently that Michigan added legal sports betting to the mix of available gambling options.

In December, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed a bill that legalized sports and online gambling. The bill allows for sports betting, but only on wagers that are placed in-person at licensed casinos. Residents who are interested in online or mobile sports betting will have to wait for the time being, but officials believe that those options could become available in the near future. There has also been speculation that the Four Winds casino located in South bend could add a sportsbook to their casino before the end of the year, but officials do not have an update on the status of that at this time. In the meantime, bettors will have to take advantage of the newest sportsbook at the three Four Winds casino locations.

Vegas Bookmakers Make Costly Sportsbook Error

Last Sunday marked one of the biggest sportsbook losses in Las Vegas history, all thanks to an error made by bookmakers. Nearly a quarter of a million dollars in winning wagers were placed at MGM Resorts on Sunday, and all of these bets were made after the sporting events had started. Bookmakers are calling this the largest loss in the history of Vegas sportsbooks, but the error that was made is more common than some may think. Now, some people are questioning whether there will be any repercussions for those who took advantage of the mistake.

The Error

When entering the odds for various sporting events, oddsmakers often enter the start times of manually; this was the case for a number of Korean and Chinese baseball games that were open for wagers on Sunday. The issue arose when the start times were entered incorrectly, giving bettors the opportunity to place wagers that were supposed to be available only before the game after the game had started.

The error presented bettors with the unique opportunity to take a look at the games in play and determine the outcome of the games based on the live scores and events taking place in each match. Although many sportsbooks typically offer live betting, they do so with odds that are adjusted to account for the events taking place within each match. This time, however, the odds remained static, due to the fact that the manual start time entry made it seem as though the games had not begun. Bettors were quick to spot the error and did everything they could to capitalize on the mistake.

Easy Money

Nearly 50 bets were placed in order to take advantage of this mistake, many of which were placed through the self-serve kiosks at the Bellagio resort between 1:30 a.m. and 3:00 a.m. The games in questions were baseball games from the KBO League and the Chinese Professional Baseball League. The games start times were 1 a.m. and 2 a.m., but the books had them listed much later, making it easy for bettors to hand-pick the bets that were most likely to hit.

In the game between KT Wiz Suwon and Hanwha Eagles, the over was set to 9.5 runs. When Suwon scored five runs in the first inning, many bettors realized that the over was likely to hit, and so they placed their wagers. Over 9.5 runs hit in the seventh inning, and the game ended 8-4 in favor of Suwon. The NC Dinos and the Doosan Bears were being shown on ESPN, with the under set a 9 runs for -110. The game was 0-0 until the 5th inning, and bettors again took advantage of the opportunity by taking the under.

Single bets were the least of bookmakers’ concerns. One $250 wager on a 10-leg parlay ended up paying out more than $137,100 to one lucky bettor. Another $100 eight-leg parlay won $11,156.60. These creative parlays are just a few examples of how bettors were able to cash out on one of the biggest bookmaking errors in the history of Las Vegas.

Winnings Hang in the Balance

Errors from manual entry occur quite frequently, but not with losses of this magnitude. A number of bookmakers in the industry spoke out about the incident, claiming that the occurrence is quite common. The issue, of course, is that a loss this great can hardly be chalked up as a typo from which bookmakers can move on. Now, The Nevada Gaming Control Board is stepping in, and many are wondering whether or not these winnings will be rescinded.

Whenever a dispute in excess of $500 occurs, The Nevada Gaming Control Board is required to launch an investigation. In these circumstances, the board will conduct their investigation, ultimately deciding whether or not bookmakers need to payout the bets in dispute. This could mean that the opportunistic bettors that took advantage of this mistake could be left with no winnings from the wagers they placed. It is common practice within the industry to give patrons the option of refunding their tickets or keeping their winnings under the condition that they will be permanently banned from the sportsbook. Given the choice, one would think that these lucky bettors would gladly take their winnings to another sportsbook, but for the time being they must wait for the decision from the board.

Barstool Sports Prepares for Sports Betting Venture

Barstool Sports has announced their intentions to launch their first Barstool Sportsbook with the help of a new partnership. Barstool founder Dave Portnoy was recently interviewed on CNBC’s Mad Money, stating his intentions to get back to the roots of the company: professional sports. Now that major sports leagues have begun rolling out plans to return to play later this summer, Barstool Sports believes that its time they put their mark on the growing sports betting industry throughout the country. Barstool CEO Erika Nardini doubled down on Portnoy’s comments, saying the highly anticipated sportsbook could be here in time for the 2020 NFL season, which starts in September.

What to Expect from Barstool Sportsbooks

Barstool intends to launch both a sports betting app, and a brick-and-mortar sportsbook, yet not concrete plan has officially been put in place. Portnoy, who founded Barstool in 2003, shared that he’s looking forward to getting back to sports after the coronavirus pandemic brought the sports world to a stand-still in March. As a sports bettor himself, Portnoy looks forward to having a hand in creating a unique sportsbook, which Nardini believes will be a unique reflection of the Barstool culture that fans know best.

In an interview with Fox Business Network, Nardini explained some of the features that she anticipates will set Barstool Sportsbook apart from well-established competitors like DraftKings and FanDuel. Barstool already has a number of podcasts and other digital platforms they use to discuss sports betting. Pardon My Take, which is currently one of the most popular sports podcasts in the world, is just one example of Barstool’s far-reaching sports culture influence, and will provide a platform in which employees will continue to discuss sports betting. Through these platforms, Nardini believes that Barstool employees will be able to leverage their existing sports expertise to encourage fans to use the new sportsbook and engage in unique ways.

Barstool also plans to have a hand in creating some unique promotions to draw fans to the new app. Barstool employees will work on creating parlays and lines for unique bets in an array of in-app promotional betting options. On the app, bettors will find a variety of sports to place wagers on. Nardini claims that the new app will cover everything, from popular sports leagues such as the NFL, to more unique bets like Bulgarian soccer.

A Lucrative Partnership

Barstool Sports has already made their mark on the gaming industry, after Penn National Gaming announced a 163 million-dollar deal that awarded them 36 percent interest in Barstool in February. Through this partnership with the gaming industry leaders, Barstool has created the opportunity to create the sportsbooks experience they have been dreaming of. Nardini believes that the pairing between Penn Nationals large and reputable brand, coupled with the enticing personalities at Barstool Sports, create the perfect combination for popularizing their latest project.

The timing of the sportsbook is shaping up quite nicely, assuming that everything can continue as planned. Penn National was forced to close its doors over the past few months, in order to thwart the spread of coronavirus. Now, as parts of the country are beginning to reopen, Penn National has reopened roughly 70 percent of their locations, and 11,000 employees have returned to work. Meanwhile, major sports leagues like the NBA, NHL, MLB, and MLS, who have suspended play due to the virus, are now planning to start playing again over the next two months. If Barstool Sportsbook can realistically launch their app in the coming months, then they will have an opportunity to capitalize on an unprecedented period of professional sports.

The partnership with Penn National suggests that the ambitious goal to have both an app and brick-and-mortar sportsbook in the near future is more than just a pipedream for Barstool Sports. However, there are a number of legal considerations and hurdles that Barstool will have to face in order to make this dream a reality. A September launch for the theoretical sportsbook seems ambitions, unless Barstool and Penn National can work to push a concrete plan that can be approved on such short notice. Regardless, the intent is clear: A Barstool Sportsbook is on the horizon.

Illinois Governor Passes Online Sports Betting Registration

Over the past week, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed an Executive Order to allow bettors to create online accounts for sports betting. This Executive Order suspends the need for in-person registration for any sports wagering in the state and is part of the state government’s response to COVID-19 emergency safety restrictions. While a number of states throughout the country are slowly starting to reopen businesses and relax social distancing restrictions, Illinois has no definitive plan to re-open casinos in the immediate future, leaving the future of sports betting in limbo. A number of professional sports leagues have announced their intentions to return to play under new guidelines and in a series of one of a kind competitions. Pritzker’s Executive Order presents Illinois residents with the opportunity to begin betting on sports from the comfort of their own home.

Initial Plans for Illinois Sports Betting

The introduction of legal sports betting in the state of Illinois began a year ago, when state officials passed a bill to grant and approve licenses for sportsbooks. The bill requires bettors to register at casinos, racetracks, or sports facilities in order to legally place wagers on their favorite sports. After signing up in person, bettors may place wagers on mobile applications that are operated by the brick-and-mortar locations where they registered. Since the introduction of the bill, only two casinos have been granted temporary operating permits by the Gaming Board: Rivers and Argosy Casino Alton. However, at this time, neither of these two brick-and-mortar locations have requested approval for online sports wagering. It’s worth noting that Illinois also included a “penalty box” period in their gambling law, which gives casinos 18 months of sports betting before online gaming giants like FanDuel and DraftKings can apply as a sports betting provider.

After much deliberation surrounding the rules and regulations for these perspective sports betting providers, sportsbooks were prepared to officially launch in time for this year’s March Madness tournament. This launch, however, came to a screeching halt due to the coronavirus pandemic. As the threat of the pandemic grew, safety regulations prevented any possibility of bettors registering at brick-and-mortar locations. Of course, these regulations also led to the suspension of collegiate and professional sports on a global scale.

The Return of Sports Betting

Since social distancing regulations and stay-at-home orders were put in place in mid-March, the United States has successfully started to flatten the curve and stymie the spread of coronavirus. During this period, professional sports leagues, including the NHL, NBA, and MLS, have developed and announced their intentions to return to play. All of these plans have resulted in an unprecedented period in which these major sports leagues will be playing throughout the summer, in competitions that will be the first of their kind. The start of these competitions has created the perfect storm for sportsbooks looking to get back into the action.

While the recent Executive Order is a step in the right direction, it does not change the fact that the only legal sports betting options, at the moment, are limited to the brick-and-mortar locations. Officials are hopeful that these casinos can reopen sometime in June, but in the mean time they remain closed indefinitely. Illinois Gaming Board administrator Marcus Fruchter issued an announcement stating that Pritzker’s decision opens the door for online sports betting to become available sooner rather than later. The statement went on to praise the order as an option for protecting a revenue source during a period in which the state is recovering from the financial impact of the pandemic.

The Gaming Board will hold a virtual meeting on Friday, June 11, which will be its first meeting since January 30. Bettors and officials alike hope that this could be a crucial step in launching sports betting in time for Illinoisans to place a wager on their Chicago Blackhawks, when the NHL playoffs kick off later this summer.

D.C. Sports Betting Delayed Indefinitely

Washington D.C. has yet to officially launch any form of sports betting, despite the fact that it was legalized over a year ago. Now, amidst the postponement of all professional and collegiate sports due to the coronavirus, the nation’s capital will have to wait even longer for its first highly anticipated sportsbook. After much deliberation and tireless efforts throughout the development of the city’s first sportsbook, it appeared as though residents in D.C. were primed for access to sports betting in early March, just in time for March Madness. However, as the world of sports continues to submit to the will of the ever-growing concern surrounding Covid-19 it appears that sports betting in Washington D.C. must be postponed indefinitely.

The Long Journey to Launch

As the nationwide shutdown began on Friday, March 13, the Office of Lottery and Gaming confirmed that it would be launching its citywide mobile sports betting app and website before April 1. At the time this announcement was made, the NCAA had already canceled one of the biggest sporting events of the year: the NCAA March Madness Tournament. During this time, it also became clear that major professional sports leagues throughout the United States, such as the NBA and NHL, would be forced to suspend competitions, with the start of the MLB season also hanging in the balance. The Office of Lottery and Gaming fully recognized that their sportsbook would be launching in a world devoid of sport, but it seemed that the launch would resume as planned, if only to finalize a project that had taken over a year to complete.

In January of 2019, Mayor Muriel Bowser officially legalized sports betting in the District. Since then, officials have worked tirelessly to come up with a sportsbook that they feel is satisfactory when it comes to offering regulated sports betting options to bettors, in hopes of producing revenue for Washing D.C. The final product, a collaboration between Greek gambling company Intralot and the D.C. Lottery, was primed to fall woefully short of the anticipated offerings for their opening day, which was scheduled for mid to late March.

The Journey Continues

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to plague the globe, the Office of Lottery and Gaming has been forced to delay the launch of their sportsbook even further. In a statement issued by a D.C. Lottery spokesperson, the launch of the sportsbook has officially been delayed indefinitely. The spokesperson emphasized that the mobile app and website have gone through the necessary tests to be ready to go live at the drop of a hat, yet the ongoing suspension of professional sports on a global scale has led the office to determine that a launch at this time would be counterintuitive.

The launch of the sportsbook at this point could potentially cost more money than the app or website would produce in revenue, which is highly disappointing considering the lofty projections for the industry. Officials had estimated more than $26 million in revenue this year, and that figure was set to increase in the coming years. The effects of this financial impact are certainly concerning, especially considering the hit that Intralot could be taking from the loss of revenue from other projects throughout the nation.

No End in Sight

The recent events leading to the indefinite delay of sports betting launching in D.C. will certainly hurt officials and sports betting enthusiasts alike. On the heels of the launch of the first online and mobile sportsbook was the expected launch of in-person sports betting for the District. A number of applications for sports betting licenses at professional sporting arenas like Capital One Arena and Audi Field had been in the works prior to this nation-wide shut down. At the time these applications were submitted, it was expected that such licenses could be issued before the 2020 NFL season. It appears that the effects of the suspension of all professional sports will force those decisions to be delayed as well.

As the world continues to adjust to the changes that have been forced by the outbreak of the coronavirus, officials in D.C. will await the decision by professional sports leagues to determine the next steps for sports betting in the District. For the time being, the Office of Lottery and Gaming has committed themselves to offering updates about the status of their mobile app and website, promising that when the time comes, they will be ready to launch the highly anticipated product.

Nevada Approve Esports Betting in Response to Pandemic

Facing one of the greatest lulls in sports betting since its legalization in the United States, Nevada has approved esports betting for regulated sportsbooks throughout the state. As the coronavirus pandemic spreads across the globe, sportsbooks have been forced into limited sports betting offerings, raising concerns for operators throughout the country. In an attempt to mitigate the effects of these limited offerings, Nevada has made the historic decision to allow sports betting outlets throughout the state to begin accepting wagers for Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), a popular and competitive first-person shooter. With this decision, Nevada becomes the first state in the country to officially offer esports betting, opening the door for other states to do the same.

Shifting to Esports

While professional sports leagues across the globe have stopped indefinitely due to the coronavirus, professional gaming has come into the spotlight. Professional gamers and streamers have found solace in the fact that much of what they do can be completed from the comfort of their own home, while retaining a competitive atmosphere that sports fans crave. Even popular NBA and NFL players have begun to explore this outlet, playing and streaming competitions with some of their favorite video games.

The potential of offering lines on esports has hung in the balance in many states, as sports betting continues to evolve throughout the country. While many states have adopted legislation for sports betting since the Supreme Court’s 2018 decision to lift the ban, many other states continue to question its merit. While sports betting is still in its infancy throughout the country, many have debated whether or not esports should be thrown into the mix of potential lines for bettors.

While the legitimacy of esports may be debated, there is no denying the competitiveness. Leagues for popular games like FIFA, Overwatch, League of Legends and CS:GO have been established across the globe with official rules and regulations. Some leagues, like FIFA, have even established ties with professional sports leagues like the MLS. Additionally, streaming platforms like Twitch, Mixer, and YouTube have given professional gamers an outlet for building an audience that is comparable to professional sports contests. Now, with the absence of available traditional contests to wager on, it appears that esports is going to have a chance to prove itself as a viable sports betting option.

Opening Day

On Thursday, William Hill became the first Las Vegas sportsbook to begin offering esports betting, listing lines for contests that took place on the same day. The CS:GO matches that they offered lines on were available to live audiences on various streaming sites, including YouTube and Twitch. Much like any other sporting events, the odds were accessible via William Hill’s Nevada mobile app for players to begin placing their wagers. The matches offered by William Hill took place in the ESL Proleague and included the following matchups: 100 Thieves (-500) vs. Swole Patrol (+375) and Team Liquid (-335) vs. Made in Brazil (+275).

One Small Step of Esports

In many countries throughout Europe, esports has already been accepted as a reliable sports betting option. In the United States, New Jersey has tested esports betting, but concrete legislation has not been finalized. Nevada’s decision to pioneer esports betting by offering odds for CS:GO paves the way for other states, as well as other esports.

The decision to offer lines for esports appears to be a lifeline for a gambling industry that is not only faced with the issue of suspended sports leagues, but also the temporary closure of many brick-and-mortar sportsbooks and casinos. In the coming months, the success or failure of Nevada’s decision could determine the future of esports betting in the country.

Sportsbooks Adapting to Counteract Covid-19 Impact

The impact of Covid-19 has been felt throughout the world, as more and more countries enact policies that require social distancing to stop the spread of the virus. Sports leagues across the globe have been forced to suspend or cancel events due to the rate at which the disease has spread throughout the countries they operate in, impacting the industry in ways that were previously unimaginable. In the United States, the spread of the virus has forced a suspension in play and practices for the NBA, NHL, MLS, and MLB. The timing of the outbreak has also forced the NCAA to cancel March Madness, one of the busiest sports betting periods of the year. The suspension and cancelation of these events have forced sportsbooks into adapting to try and stay relevant in what has brought the booming sports betting industry to a screeching halt.

The Power of March Madness

Oddsmakers were primed and ready to handle Selection Sunday this past weekend; March 15 would have signified the launch of sports betting on the NCAA college basketball tournament, one of the biggest sporting events of the year. However, on March 12, the NCAA announced its decision to cancel the tournament amidst concerns surrounding the spread of Covid-19, after initially suggesting the tournament could be played behind closed doors. The 15-day tournament was set to span 14 cities, and as always was slated to be one of the most-watched sporting events of the year. The tournament consistently brings in millions of dollars between the media coverage, ticket sales, and gambling.

The notorious March Madness brackets, which fans have been filling out for years, present an opportunity for even the most casual fans to enter pools for cash prizes. These pools have acted as an access point for anyone interested in wagering on sports, even in the most casual sense. Sports betting has become even more accessible in recent years, after legislation has rolled out in 16 states since the Supreme Court’s decision to lift the ban on sports betting in 2018. Now fans who have been filling out brackets for years have been considering doubling down on their potential winnings by placing wagers at sportsbooks throughout the country.

It may come as a surprise to some that the money wagered on a college sport surpasses that of even the NFL or NBA, but the March Madness tournament does just that. In the first four days of the 15-day contest, March Madness generates more money in wagers than even the Super Bowl. With the cancelation of the tournament, sportsbooks in Vegas and throughout the country are looking for a way to counteract this massive loss.

The Impact on Vegas

In an interview with USA TODAY, Jay Kornegay, head of operations at Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino, expressed that there is no magic bullet for replacing March Madness. Last year, 47 million Americans wagered approximately $8.5 billion on the tournament. These figures include the countless brackets that fans fill out, as well as the wagers placed on individual games. What’s even more concerning, is the fact that the NCAA tournament isn’t the only gap that sportsbooks will have to fill in the coming months.

Almost every other sport in the world has been impacted as well, and the effects are being felt by sportsbooks throughout Nevada, where they typically bring in $500 million a month in sports wagers alone. The concerns surrounding the spread of Covid-19 has also forced temporary closures of brick-and-mortar locations like Vegas’ Wynn Resorts. Other locations have been forced into workforce reductions, as sportsbooks seek to do what they can to counteract the lack of action and provide steady work for their employees, as well as steady action for their players.

Current and Future Sports Betting Options

For the time being, many sportsbooks have shifted their attention to rely on futures bets, such as selecting the Super Bowl and World Series winners for the upcoming seasons. Additionally, bookmakers have done what they can to off lines on the extremely limited sports betting options left at their disposal. Brazilian UFC, Turkish and Russian soccer, and a very limited number of other contests have been the only available markets for sportsbooks over the past few days. It may not be much, but this limited action has at least offered something to bettors for the time being.

With such limited offerings, the sports betting industry is poised to see a steep decrease in revenue, after what has been one of the most successful sports betting periods in U.S. history. What’s even more unsettling is the fact that the suspension in play has the potential to last longer than expected; both the NBA and NHL intended to return to play in about six weeks, while the MLB is expected to delay the start of their 2020 season. As the virus continues to spread, it’s possible that these suspensions in play could extend until July.

While the future of sport hangs in the balance, sportsbooks will have to make do with the limited offerings at their disposal.