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August 18th, 2021 Weekly Report
This week in legal sports betting, we cover the launch of a new legal sports betting operator in West Virginia. North Carolina moves one step closer to legalizing mobile sports betting throughout the state. New Jersey blazes a new trail in the legal horse betting industry with fixed-odds wagers.
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- West Virginia Adds PointsBet as Legal Sports Betting Operator
- Legal Mobile Sports Betting Bill Passed by North Carolina Senate
- New Jersey Set to Offer Fixed-Odds Horse Betting
WEST VIRGINIA ADDS POINTSBET AS LEGAL SPORTS BETTING OPERATOR
West Virginia was one of the first states to legalize sports betting following a landmark US Supreme Court decision in 2018. Over the past three years, it has grown to become one of the most successful small market states in the legal sports betting industry.
Earlier this month, the Mountaineer State welcomed its fifth legal US operator when PointsBet launched its mobile sports betting app. Based in Australia, PointsBet continues to make some deep in-roads into the legal US market while entering its seventh state. This is part of an aggressive expansion plan that will add even more states to this list over the next six weeks.
Johnny Aitken is the CEO at PointsBet USA. As part of an official company statement on the West Virginia launch, he had this to say:
“Launching in West Virginia is a special moment for PointsBet and presents another tremendous opportunity we are excited to attack. As always, PointsBet will provide this passionate, sports-loving community with the fastest and most reliable online betting product across every customer touchpoint.”
He went on to add:
“We are thrilled to now introduce West Virginian sports bettors to PointsBet’s competitive advantages in owning our technology end-to-end, such as our unrivaled speed and ease of use as well as the deepest slate of betting options in the world for every NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, WNBA and PGA Tour event.”
West Virginia ranks 40th in the US in total population with 1.8 million residents. It has always been a strong market for legal sports betting in relation to its overall size. Over the previous fiscal year ending June 30, the state posted a total sports betting handle of $518 million.
However, PointsBet is in position to make an immediate impact in the West Virginia market. The company’s strategic partnership with NBC Sports offers multiple television and digital assets. These can be quickly utilized to help build the customer base. Another advantage is PointsBet iGaming products. This will also be the fifth legal operator in the state to launch online casino games. West Virginia is one of five states to offer legal online gaming for slots and table games.
While the mobile sports betting app has already launched, PointsBet is targeting the end of 2021 to launch its online casino betting app.
LEGAL MOBILE SPORTS BETTING BILL PASSED BY NORTH CAROLINA SENATE
North Carolina took another step forward in its effort to legalize online sports betting in the state. This past Monday, state lawmakers passed Senate Bill 688. This would pave the way for legal sports betting through mobile sportsbook operators.
Retail sports betting in North Carolina at tribal casinos is already legal on a very limited basis. Both Harrah’s Cherokee Resort and Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River have been operating a legal retail sportsbook since late March. In-state surveys show that 54% of state residents support the expansion of legal sports betting. This increases to 70% in the key 18-44 age demographic.
As part of SB 688, the state would institute an 8% tax rate on mobile sports betting. Part of the added revenue would go to the North Carolina Major Events, Games, Attractions Fund. The money would be used to promote major sporting events throughout the state. SB 688 would allow as many as 12 digital platforms. Sports betting kiosks would be legal at certain sports facilities. The new legislation does not call for the expansion of any retail sports betting outside the tribal casinos.
The North Carolina Lottery Commission would act as the gaming regulator. Sports betting operators would pay a one-time license and application fee of $500,000. After five years, they would have to pay $100,000 annually as a renewal fee. Sponsors of SB 688 has estimated that legal mobile sports betting could result in $25 to $50 million in economic benefits for the state.
One of the more interesting aspects of SB 688 is the legal use of cryptocurrency to fund online sports betting accounts. To date, the only other state with this provision is Wyoming. Proponents of the new measure remain optimistic that legal mobile sports betting in North Carolina could still launch by January of next year at the earliest.
NEW JERSEY SET TO OFFER FIXED-ODDS HORSE BETTING
New Jersey has always been a trailblazer when it comes to the gaming industry. This was one of the first states outside of Nevada to legalize land-based casinos. In 1978, Resorts opened the first New Jersey casino on the Atlantic City Boardwalk.
The Garden State also led the battle against the federal government to offer legal sports betting within its borders. Opening its first sportsbook in June of 2018, New Jersey has quickly grown to become the biggest legal sports betting market in the US based on its monthly sports betting handle.
State lawmakers in New Jersey have recently approved legislation that could revolutionize the legal horse betting industry in the US. Recently signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy, New Jersey will soon be offering fixed-odds betting on horse races. While extremely popular overseas, this would be the first state in the US to offer this betting option.
Horse racing in this country remains tied to a pari-mutuel betting system. Money pools are formed by wagers on different options such as Win-Place-Show bets and exactas and trifectas. The money collected in these betting pools determine the actual odds for each horse in the race. Many industry insiders believe this system to be antiquated and out of touch with today’s bettors. A fixed-odds system for betting horse races would replicate the system used for legally betting on sports.
A bettor could lock in their odds on a particular horse at the time the bet is placed. Under the pari-mutuel betting system, the final odds are determined once the race gets underway. Australian-based BetMakers has entered into an exclusive 10-year agreement with New Jersey to provide the tech for fixed-odds horse betting. The new legislation will allow bettors to place fixed-odds racing bets through an official license holder.
Those licensees will be obligated to pay a share of that revenue to BetMakers as the permit holder.
A huge proponent of the new law is Dennis Drazin as the CEO of Monmouth Park. This is one of three land-based racetracks in the Garden State. He made the following comments as part of an official statement:
“Just like sports betting, New Jersey will become the first state to legalize fixed odds betting on horse racing and we are very excited about what this can do for the industry.”
Another vocal advocate for fixed odds horse betting is Monmouth Park lobbyist Bill Pascrell III. He added the following thought:
“If we don’t do fixed odds, within the next 10 years and perhaps even sooner, the horse racing industry is going to die on the vine.”
The incredible success of legal sports betting is also driving the effort to revolutionize horse betting. Players have grown accustomed to fix-odds betting on their favorite sports. The whole idea of locking-in your odds when the bet is actually placed is a fundamental concept to betting on sports.
The fact that a 10-to-1 horse could be bet down to 2-to-1 odds by post time does not resonate with today’s avid sports bettor. They are looking for the best value in the posted odds. New Jersey may be the first state to offer fixed-odds betting on horse racing, but it will not be alone in the marketplace.
Written by Dave Schwab, our US Sports Betting Industry Expert. You can read more about our author's expertise here.