It has been challenging deciding which headline the past few weeks will have the largest impact upon the US sports wagering industry forecasting the near future.
It could be the yet to be determined bid MGM Resorts is making for Entain and their group of important companies that penetrate the online gaming sector including Ladbrokes, Bwin among others. At this juncture, we do know that offering $11 billion will not be enough.
Also significant is New Jersey announcing they fell just a few parlay bets away from a record $1 billion in wagering handle for the month of December. An astonishing figure that did not seem possible and has been undeniably assisted by the continued path of COVID-19. Its impact has made Governor Andrew Cuomo jealous and has motivated him to change his stance legislating online wagering in 2021 for bordering New York state.
Sheldon Adelson’s passing has also made prominent US national headlines for his alliance and large campaign contributions to departing President Trump. The millions he invested fighting online wagering legalization were instrumental in delaying the US Supreme Court to reverse PASPA (the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act). And his political allies and clout helped to enforce the UIGEA (the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006).
Simultaneously with Adelson’s earlier leave of office, the Las Vegas Sands corporation was said to be pursuing the potential to enter the US online gaming sector. A chance to evaluate online sports wagering with an unnamed partner amid undisclosed details. A move that was most obviously motivated by COVID-19 causing a large 2020 revenue drop for Sands Corp business. It was also reported that both the Venetian and Palazzo Resort Hotels in Vegas were on the market for $6B.
Perhaps further down in the many noteworthy US sports wagering front-page headlines was more proof that may inevitably have the largest overall impact but take several years to reach full form.
FuboTV (FUBO) stock surged while announcing plans to buy small online sportsbook startup Vigotry, making the sports-centric Internet-TV provider the latest company capitalizing on the nonstop trend to legalize online sports betting in the US.
But media companies partnering with existing sportsbooks is nothing new. In November, Sinclair Broadcast Group signed a ten-year $85 million dollar deal with Bally’s Corporation. With that, the 21 Fox Sports regional sports networks will rebrand to Bally’s Sports. ESPN furthered its commitment to making sports betting part of its everyday programming last September, reaching agreements on separate multi-year deals with Caesars and DraftKings Sportsbook.
Also, NBC Sports announced that PointsBet would become its official sports betting partner as part of a deal worth $500 million. In all, a continuing trend to link sports wagering into a new opportunity and speed convenience for bettors that is quite frankly, mind boggling.
Starting only six years ago, FuboTV began streaming European soccer matches to American television audiences. Now with a broader base of programming, analysts envision its service as one of the new alternatives to traditional cable TV packages, like larger competitors Hulu and YouTube.
Co-founder and CEO David Gandler said the Vigtory acquisition will create multiple revenue lines, making FuboTV less vulnerable to cord cutting. Their free-to-play app is powered by animation software from Balto Sports, recently acquired by Fubo in December. In building the process, Gandler’s vision in for the sportsbook to enable on-screen betting, so that viewers will be able to simultaneously wager as they watch games, though that will likely take many years to develop.
The concept seems to be of reality, as why we are seeing these mega deals occur between large media companies and casino/sportsbook operators. The question of how it will all take shape and the effect on the player is quite intriguing.
In making comment on the new diversified opportunity Gandler said:
We not only expect sports wagering to become a new line of business and source of revenue, but we also expect that it will increase user engagement on FuboTV resulting in higher ad monetization, better subscriber retention, and reduced subscriber acquisition costs.
In trying to decipher Gandler’s statement, FuboTV’s vision and other media company’s business plan into the future, it seems to conjure up an interesting but potentially seductive and wary possibility for causal bettors. Not Esports but something much closer to actual live play itself.
Those “free to play” games can easily be as it was phrased “monetized” by streaming popular new in-play wagering odds attached to live action sports. Yes, it might be great if it potentially lowered monthly subscription costs by attracting new advertisers, but at what cost? Wouldn’t subscribers be the ones potentially paying for it by “gambling” on a new, attractive sports and online casino option?
In-play betting is different than in-game betting and offers much more to sports bettors. In-game wagering is simply wagering on a game while it is happening. Sportsbook odds for in-game wagering will usually only change during a timeout or commercial break.
Betting takes place throughout the game and odds change after almost every play or possession. In-play wagering is currently available for game-specific wagering opportunities. There are no individual in-play wagers available for specific player propositions, but that could change in the future.
As it works now, a bettor must react quickly, akin to making decisions on a timed video poker machine understanding the odds. This means a bettor has their mobile device (cell phone or computer) logged into a pre-funded account. The account is instantly updated as the result is completed.
In-play betting in the US is in its relative infancy but rising in popularity as it has been longer available in Europe.
Overall, in-play wagering will peak as each new technology becomes available and exposure within streaming services like FuboTV begins to spread. While football and basketball are the likeliest sports to adopt in-play wagering, the options will be limitless and could include sports such as tennis, golf, and soccer. Major League Baseball should certainly benefit with each batter or every pitch a new wagering opportunity.
The question now becomes how many sports gambling options this creates, the ease of execution and the almost 24-hours live international sports menu any bettor could obtain via their new television streaming device. A virtual “slot machine for sports betting”.
Yes, it has been quite a memorable week for US sports betting headlines. Who knows what might come up next and how fast it will change to make things faster?
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Larry Gibbs is both a seasoned journalist and a respected online gaming industry consultant. His wry commentary & sharp analysis have appeared in numerous top gaming and sports wagering publications. He has also served as Vice President of US Gaming Services, a marketing research organization with 15 years of experience in US online wagering. He has spoken at noted gaming industry conferences including G2E, GiGSE, and NCLGS.
Email: [email protected]
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