The first week of 2019 began with the news that the NFL has struck a deal with Caesars. The deal appoints Caesars as the NFL’s first ever “Official Casino Sponsor.”
Starting with the 2019 NFL playoffs, Caesars will provide “unique experiences for NFL fans by using its casino properties, celebrity chefs, premier music artists, and a wide range of entertainment elements.”
Missing from the list is sports betting. The NFL has decided to keep its powder dry and not struck a deal to provide sports betting data to a single casino company.
Contrast this with the NBA, MLB and NHL which have all signed agreements with MGM that include sports data. Interesting that Caesars has beaten MGM to the finish line with the NFL. MGM must have been in there pitching, but the most popular sports league for betting action has gone with Caesars.
Caesars partners with Oneida Indian Nation in New York
Caesars also hit the headlines with a strategic partnership for New York sports betting. Casinos owned by the Oneida Indian Nation plan to launch sports betting in 2019 and Caesars will provide the licensing and branding.
The deal awaits approval by the National Indian Gaming Commission, which shouldn’t be a problem. What is a problem is that New York has not authorized sports betting yet.
Way back in 2013, the state passed a new gambling law in anticipation of sports betting legalization. The regulator has everything ready to go, but apparently Mayor Cuomo is holding things up.
The TimesUnion had an interesting take, suggesting that a dispute over tribal casino payments to the state is the reason for the delay.
On top of this, the 2013 law doesn’t allow for online sports betting. Since most sports betting now takes place on mobile devices, this is a real issue. A referendum may be necessary to change the state constitution which would delay online sports betting until at least 2021.
The four state licensed casinos in New York all have sports betting partners ready to go. Online may be delayed, but live sports betting at the casinos should start mid-year.
Sports betting top appointments
An expanding industry needs good people and two companies made significant senior appointments this week.
Bet.Works, whom USBR interviewed this week, appointed Dr. Laila Mintas as chairwoman of its advisory board. Previously she was US president for Sportradar. For anyone unfamiliar, SportRadar is one of the world’s largest sports data companies. It provides the data sports betting operators use to settle their bets.
SBTech is one of the largest providers of sports betting technology in the US market. It has hired Gavin Isaacs as its new non-executive chairman. Isaacs used to be the CEO of Scientific Games, one of SBTech’s biggest competitors.
Washington DC may create a sports betting monopoly
Washington DC Council passed sports betting legislation just before the end of the year. Now they may throw a spanner in the works.
The Council may decide to give the state lottery sole rights to operate sports betting. The contract is currently operated by Intralot which to be fair, is perfectly capable of running a sports betting operation. However, state monopolies are unlikely to generate as much revenue as a competitive market place, and sports bettors would get no choice in where to place their bets.
The Mayor, Muriel Bowser, has still not signed off on the original legislation nor has it gone to Congress for a mandatory review.
What are we looking for in the week ahead?
Last week we hoped to see the first online sports betting app launch in Pennsylvania. It didn’t happen, but soon, it will come soon! The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) has authorized most of the state’s casinos to launch online gaming, one of them will get the advantage of being first to market, we just don’t know which.
Meanwhile live sports betting will launch at the Parx Casino on Tuesday, January 8. The PGCB requires a 48 hour test period before giving a final go-ahead, but a full service sports betting operation will be open to the public this weekend.