Global online gaming leader The Stars Group (TSG), in partnership with U.S. sports media giant Fox Sports, debuted the first FOX Bet online legal sports wagering site in the country in the Garden State on August 31.
Users of TSG’s former New Jersey brand, BetStars, which operated under a license-sharing agreement with Resorts Casino Atlantic City, were redirected to the new FOX Bet page with no advance notice and little fanfare on Saturday.
Apple iOS users can download the FOX Bet app from the Apple App Store, while the Android app can be downloaded directly from the FOX Bet website. Eventually TSG plans to roll out a nationwide free-to-play platform, as well, which will offer cash prizes and vacations to winning players.
The sports media and wagering business-to-business partnership, the first of its kind, is set to debut FOX Bet online in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, in conjunction with Mount Airy Casino Resort, on Tuesday, Sept. 3.
Mount Airy does not have a retail sportsbook at its Mt Pokono location, nor has it announced plans to build one, making FOX Bet the first Keystone state mobile sportsbook to launch before its licensed operator opened a brick-and-mortar sport wagering site.
Headquartered in Toronto, The Stars Group is betting heavily on a future in legal sports wagering, particularly throughout the newly legal U.S. markets emerging since the repeal of PASPA.
Although TSG owns the world’s largest online poker platform, PokerStars, the poker industry has been declining steadily, by 10 to 20 percent a year for nearly a decade, according to some experts.
TSG took its first giant step toward a new future in 2018, paying $4.7 billion for Sky Bet, the U.K.’s top-ranked online sportsbook.
After partnering with Fox Sports last May, TSG next signed a deal with Penn National in July for market entry rights in an additional nine states, bringing TSG’s total to 20.
Although not as costly as Sky Bet, FOX Bet is still an ambitious project. Although it has a high potential for long-term success, it will be at least several years before those benefits will be apparent.
TSG announced in a mid-August press release that it expects to invest up to $40 million this year on the FOX Bet launch in Pennsylvania, rebranding the BetStars platform in New Jersey, acquiring additional licenses, and marketing and product development.
FOX Bet Chief Executive Officer Robin Chhabra said TSG plans to continue investing in the brand next year, with platform launches targeted for two to four states a year, and a break-even date for the U.S. targeted for the end of 2022.
Under the agreement announced May 8, Fox Sports agreed to invest $236 million for 4.99 percent of TSG’s market shares, with an option to acquire up to 50 percent of TSG’s equity in the U.S. market prior to the tenth anniversary of the agreement, for a period of up to 25 years.
In return, TSG gets exclusive rights for certain Fox Sports trademarks, as well as “certain exclusive advertising and editorial integration rights on certain Fox Sports broadcast media and digital assets,” according to the TSG press release.
It’s certain that this deal would have been outstanding for TSG if Fox Sports still owned its regional broadcasting stations, Fox Sports Networks, but those were sold to Disney in March, just two months before the TSG deal.
Fox Sports still owns numerous national properties, but legal sports betting in the U.S. is more regional than national, at least at this stage. Even so, Fox Sports has a powerful voice and should be a formidable advocate for legal sports betting.