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Ahh, July. The smell of grass clippings and the sound of summer cicadas crackling in the trees means that some of our favorite leagues are in the offseason, but that doesn't mean there's not a ton of news that's still fit to print.
BetMGM, FanDuel and Co. Get on the CA Ballot... and It's Getting Ugly
This week, it was announced that the "California Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Health Act" backed by a number of national sportsbook operators will indeed be on California's November 2022 ballot. This means that CA voters will have the option to vote in one or both of two measures, each with their own goals towards legalizing sports betting in the state.
On the one hand, the above "Solutions for Homelessness" measure legalized online sports betting and opens the market to commercial operators like BetMGM and FanDuel, but has high licensing fees that many, including a few federally-recognized tribes in the state, argue are to prevent smaller businesses from applying.
On the other, the Protect Tribal Gaming Coalition's measure is gaining traction, and proposes that only the tribes should be able to offer sports betting, and only in person.
More recently, we're getting into a literal smear campaign, as a handful of the recognized tribes in CA just released this ad painting the "Solutions for Homelessness" measure as a cash grab by DraftKings CEO Jason Robins. This may be one of the most contentious battles regarding the legality of sports betting in a state thus far.
Caesars' Sportsbook Opens Retail Location at Chase Field
The Arizona Diamondbacks call Chase Field home, and now, bettors there will be able to place legal wagers at a Caesars' Sportsbook right at the stadium. Retail locations are a great way to bet legally as you watch the game in-person, and while this isn't a promotional piece, the Caesars' Sportsbook at Chase Field is also your high speed freeway to FlavorTown: Guy Fieri's DTPHX Kitchen is just next door.
Caesars and the Mayor of Flavortown actually have a long partnership with one another, as Guy's Kitchen locations are often found at Caesars properties. This is just another way for Caesars to pull in more market share, and Arizona continues to be a booming sports betting state.
In March, Caesars came in fourth in terms of market share at a paltry 13.9% of the total amount wagered in the Grand Canyon State. Opening the permanent retail property at Chase Field is not a huge power play, as mobile sports betting continues to account for over 99% of the overall handle in AZ, but it's a good move towards bringing the brand some recognition and, they hope, some more cash.
We Called It: North Carolina Misses Chance at Legal Sports Betting
A swing and a miss in the Tar Heel State. Actually, it was more like a buzzer beater that just kept rotating and rotating until ploop, bouncing out of the basket.
Senate Bill 688 almost made it, after having great success through its home senate before passing muster with three different subcommittees in the NC House. That's rare for any bill to pull off, especially a "vice" bill like ones designed to legalize and tax online sportsbooks. However, right around the second reading of the bill, lawmakers confusingly decided to pivot and instead try to revitalize a dead companion bill, SB 38.
It's almost as if someone's pocket got lined at the last second and they tried to tank the bill, as SB 688 had a good chance at actually making it to Governor Roy Cooper's desk and becoming law.
Cooper has himself stated, numerous times, that he'd support legislation to legalize online sports betting if one made it to his desk, but now the process has been set back so far that lawmakers are now referring to human trafficking and online sportsbooks in the same sentence.
How we went from almost legalizing online sports betting to comparing it to a disgusting criminal plague that ruins generations of families is puzzling, to say the least, but it's looking like NC bettors won't have the chance to wager online for some time.
PlayNow.com Coming to Saskatchewan
In lighter news, the BCLC's PlayNow.com platform will also be available in Saskatchewan soon! SIGA, the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority, will partner with the British Columbian platform to offer legal online wagering (including single events) to users all across the province.
Currently, so-called "gray" (read: offshore, and not technically illegal but not explicitly legal) operators have a strong hold on Saskatchewan's online sportsbook market for the better part of the market's existence, and this move into PlayNow's legal platform will keep more money in SIGA's pockets, and distribute those revenues to the intended benefactors of legalized gambling in Canada.
Kansas Wants to Launch Sports Betting This Fall
And good luck to them, because they've only just passed legislation to legalize online wagering. Governor Laura Kelly wants to see legal betting happening by the NFL season. That's a bit of a stretch, but we have seen smaller population states like Wyoming turn their just-signed law into legal online betting in about the same timeframe, so fingers are crossed.
Still, there's the work of licensing and regulating to be done, so the Kansas Lottery and Racing Commissions have their work cut out for them if they want to have a working framework for taxing online sportsbooks in... *checks calendar* ... two months.
How's Ontario's Commercial Sports Betting Market Lookin'?
So-called "provincial sites" are still holding a strong share of the legal sports betting market in Canada, as users are seemingly slow to get involved with the "commercial" market. The difference being that provincial sites are often monopolies in their province, run by the local lottery authority or Indian Gaming Authority and not having to offer competitive pricing on lines.
The commercial market, while not seeing the adoption rate that it wants in Ontario, is growing. 56% of respondents to a survey said they'd prefer betting with a commercial site due to betting pricing, promotions, and online platforms. However, commercial operators aren't seeing the same influx of new bettors as they have in the US. It will take some time, but the commercial betting market (specifically in Ontario) is slowly catching up with the monopolized provincial lotteries.
Written by Chris Altman, our US sports betting industry expert.