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August 13th, 2021 Weekly Report
This week in legal sports betting news: Massachusetts will have to wait for fall to pass a betting package, Canada’s single-wager bill takes effect, North Carolina’s current sports betting bill has passed a crucial step, and Caesars releases its newly-revamped mobile app, with more expansions to come.
If you want to find out more on some major topics not covered in this article you can check out the rest of VegasInsider with our exclusive BetMGM bonus code, Caesars promo code or DraftKings promo code for example!
- MA Legislative Break Stalls Bill
- Canada’s C-218 Takes Effect
- NC's SB 688 Passes Senate
- Caesars Begins Expansion
MASSACHUSETTS’ LEGISLATIVE BREAK STALLS HB 3977
HB 3977 was able to slam its way through the Massachusetts House with a unanimous “Yea” vote earlier in the summer, but will have to stall its momentum for now.
The bill, if passed, would legalize sports betting both in-person and on a mobile basis statewide. It would allow for three categories of sports betting licenses to be handed out to eligible facilities, including racing facilities and casinos. Mobile betting would be taxed at a 15% rate, which is one of the higher mobile sports betting tax rates but expected for a state whose nickname is “Tax-achusetts”.
HB 3977 is one of the so-called “untethered” bills, meaning that some sports betting licenses can be awarded to other interests not already connected to legalized gambling. If July’s hearings are any indication, we’re likely to see a number of non-gambling entities entering the betting market with sportsbooks for the first time. However, MA’s sports betting bill has a limited number of available licenses. At six licenses available (while discussions about “splitting” licenses and other ways to expand the playing field continue), the market is not expected to be competitive.
At any rate, we’re not likely to see any changes happen until the legislature goes back into session this fall. If and when the MA Senate does pass sports betting, they could either opt for the emergency clause as in other states- issuing licenses this year- or wait to implement their betting package in 2022.
CANADA’S C-218 TAKES EFFECT THIS WEEK
The Canadian sports betting landscape was operating with one hand tied behind its back for the better part of its history: only parlay betting was allowed. Now, since C-218 passed earlier this summer, Canadians will soon be able to partake in single event betting. This means that their access to a multitude of sports bets will be comparable to what we have in the US.
Legalizing single event wagering has been a push for Canadian legislators for almost decade. Since mid-2011, Canadian MPs have been attempting to capture lost revenues from offshore gambling providers that skirt the definition of “legal bets” while offering the single wagers that Canadians want. After the dramatic events of the COVID-19 pandemic caused huge deficits in national finances across the world, Canada decided it was time to finally bring single-event wagering into the realm of legality.
Conservative MP Kevin Waugh is the spearheader of the most recent successful push for single-event wagering in Canada, and his efforts came to fruition once C-218 received royal assent (and a virally-shared smile from PM Trudeau) this summer. The changes took effect Thursday, August 12th, 2021, now leaving it up to the provinces to finalize rulesets and start offering licenses to eligible providers. We’re likely to see sportsbooks start offering single-event wagering by the 2021 NFL season if not sooner.
NORTH CAROLINA’S SB 688 PASSES SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE
A little overview of the general process of passing a bill in most states: let’s imagine that a sports betting package is written by a lawmaker. That lawmaker passes it on to their colleagues in the same chamber (House, Senate, or general Legislature) for initial approval.
From there, the bill will go through “committees”, whether they are Judiciary, Appropriations, or otherwise. If the bill makes it through these gauntlets, it moves to the other arm of the legislature (if existent- Nebraska is the one state in the US with a “unicameral” legislature; there’s no House or Senate, but rather a single governing body called the Legislature).
In committee is where a bill is most likely to lose momentum. You will often read that a bill “died in committee”, which means that lawmakers in said committee did not choose to move the bill forward. Luckily for North Carolina’s SB 688, however, the bill was able to pass through its second reading by the Senate Judiciary Committee, a favorable sign that the bill may move forward to the NC House.
Should the bill move forward to the NC House and pass there, it will be up to Governor Roy Cooper for final approval. In the case of his signature, NC will get access to 12 sports betting licenses at an 8% tax rate, a pretty attractive rate for operators. That 8% rate will benefit tourism in North Carolina, so legislators would be happy to get the bill on the books to bring some much-needed revenue to the state.
CAESARS BEGINS EXPANSION WITH NEW MOBILE APP
In a monumental acquisition, William Hill will be operating under the Caesars brand for online sportsbooks and casinos in a series of eligible states, particularly Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Tennessee, Michigan, NJ, Virginia and West Virginia. Caesars Entertainment CEO Tom Reeg has seen the success MGM has had in the Wolverine State, and with this rebrand of the William Hill platform into the Caesars Sports suite, he’s hoping to meet similar marks.
Essentially, William Hill’s staff will still be partially responsible for the sportsbook, while Caesars will provide branding, rewards structures, and the purchasing power of an international gambling behemoth.
As Reeg states: “We’ve the largest loyalty database in the business, bar none.” He also cites low overheads and the rapidly expanding US sports betting market as reasons to “aggressively” pursue expansions and mergers of this kind. If he’s right, it will be a stellar move for Caesars, which has increased its market access at least twofold by implementing this purchase.
Costing about USD $4 billion, the purchase of William Hill has been just one of many strides (and expenses) Caesars is undertaking to become the largest name in sports betting in the country- they’ve also recently bought the 20-year naming rights to the New Orleans Saints’ home field, now called the Caesars Superdome. Louisiana is expected to be one of the next states to legalize sports betting, so it’s a solid move according to industry experts.
Written by Chris Altman, our US Sports Betting Industry expert. You can learn more about our author’s expertise here.