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State of the Union: DraftKings, Rush Street, NV and more

Insight | Analysis

This week’s State of the Union, in partnership with Segev LLP, covers DraftKings and Kambi’s decision to cooperate as the operator migrates from Kambi’s platform to SBTech’s with a target date of 30 September, 2021. Meanwhile, Rush Street Interactive will join DraftKings in being a publicly listed online gaming business after agreeing a reverse merger with special purpose acquisition company, while the Nevada Gaming Control Board published its monthly results for June, in which casinos were permitted to reopen following the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.

DraftKings and Kambi to cooperate for Q3 2021 tech migration

Daily fantasy and sports betting operator DraftKings and B2B sports betting supplier Kambi have reached an agreement to cooperate on DraftKings’ migration from Kambi’s back-end platform services to SBTech’s.

Both companies agreed to work towards a termination date for their partnership of 30 September, 2021, but DraftKings will have permission to leverage its proprietary technology before then.

Kambi will receive full revenue until this date, even if DraftKings migrates earlier.

Rush Street Interactive to go public on NYSE

Rush Street Interactive (RSI) is set to be the latest US online gambling operator to go public after agreeing a reverse merger with special purpose acquisition company dMY Technology Group.

The merger – approved unanimously by the boards of both businesses and expected to close later this year – will see Rush Street trade on the NYSE with an initial enterprise value of around $1.78bn, using the ticker symbol “RSI”.

“We started RSI in 2012 to create a fun and engaging online experience for the US gaming customer and we now have a great opportunity to accelerate our growth in this dynamic market,” RSI chief executive Greg Carlin said. “We are looking forward to investing further in market expansion, product innovation, and growing our talented team.”

Reopened Nevada casinos see revenue fall 45.6% in June

In their first month back after closures due to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19), Nevada casino revenue reached $566.8m, down 45.6% year-on-year, with sportsbooks in the state reporting their first monthly loss in almost seven years.

Nevada casinos were permitted to reopen on 4 June after closing in mid-March due to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak. June’s results therefore included the full range of casino games for the first time since March. Revenue for June, incidentally, was down 8.3% compared to March’s total.

The state’s $566.8m in revenue came on player stakes totalling $8.20bn, down 31.4% from June 2019.

Massachusetts House clears amended sports betting bill

The Massachusetts House of Representatives has voted to approve an economic development package bill that includes a section to legalize sports betting in the state.

The House yesterday (July 28) voted 156-3 in favour of H.4879, which, after being introduced last week, will now move forward to the state Senate.

Should the Senate make any further amendments to the bill, these would then need to be approved by the House by Friday (July 31), when the current Massachusetts legislative session is due to conclude.

MGM names Hornbuckle permanent CEO

MGM Resorts International has named Bill Hornbuckle, its current acting chief executive and president, to those roles on a permanent basis, as well as to its board of directors.

Hornbuckle took over as acting chief executive when Jim Murren stepped down following the publication of the operator’s 2019 results, in which revenue increased 9.6% to $12.90bn, while profits were buoyed by the sale of the Bellagio Hotel and Casino.

Murren had been MGM’s chief executive since 2008, having worked for the business since 1998.

SG hails “better than expected” Q2 despite revenue decline

Scientific Games’ losses increased in Q2 as revenue fell 37.2% to $539m, but the business said its results were “better than expected” given the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19).

Services made up the majority of revenue, but revenue from this vertical still fell 29.5% to $322m. Instant products were the most stable vertical under the effects of Covid-19, declining only 11.3% to $133m, while product sales collapsed by 64.7% to $84m.

Breaking revenue down by business segment, land-based casino division SG Gaming was hardest-hit by the virus, with revenue falling 79% to $91m.

CDI sees revenue plummet and losses rise in first half

Churchill Downs Incorporated (CDI) has reported a year-on-year fall in revenue and a net loss for the first half of 2020, primarily due to the impact of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic on the operator.

Net revenue for the six months to June 30 amounted to $438.0m, down 41.0% from $742.8m in the corresponding period last year.

Analysing its performance, CDI said that the main reason for this decline was the suspension of operations at its casinos, racetracks and gaming facilities across a number of states in response to restrictions related to Covid-19.

Congressional bill aims to scrap 0.25% federal handle tax

Representatives and congressional Gaming Caucus co-chairs Dina Titus and Guy Reschenthaler have introduced a federal bill – HR7790 – to repeal the US’s 0.25% excise tax on sports wagering handle.

The tax was introduced in 1951 and does not apply to horse racing or sports betting operated by state lotteries, while operators eligible for the tax must also pay a $50-per-head employee tax. The tax raised $13.1m from Nevada alone in 2019 but Titus – of Nevada’s first district – said the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) “couldn’t answer how the money was being used”.

Titus said the return of sports was the perfect time to address the tax, which she said only served to penalize legal operators, and not illegal competitors.

Federal court sides with OK tribes in compact dispute

The US District Court for Western Oklahoma has ruled in favour of tribal operators in the state, determining that Oklahoma’s tribal gaming compacts automatically renewed on January 1 of this year.

US District Court Judge Timothy DeGiusti sided with tribes including the Cherokee, Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations who sued Governor Kevin Stitt. They argued that the compacts did not end when the 15-year compact came to a close but rather automatically renewed for a further 15 years.

Boyd Q2 revenue falls 75% after Covid-19 closures

Regional casino operator Boyd Gaming saw revenue for the quarter ending 31 June collapse by 75.2% due to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak, as the business recorded losses of $108.5m.

Of Boyd’s $209.9m of revenue from the second quarter of 2020, $185.1m came from gaming, down 70.8% year-on-year. The operator made a further $10.7m from food and beverages, down 90.5% while room revenue collapsed 88.7% to $6.9m from rooms, and other revenue fell 77.8% to $7.2m.

Colorado’s sports betting revenue rises to $2.2m in June

The Colorado Department of Revenue has reported a month-on-month rise in sports wagering revenue in June, while player spending on betting also increased by 48.8%.

Revenue for both retail and online sports wagering – reported together due to “confidentiality reasons” – amounted to $2.2m, up by 129.2% from $946,741 in May, the first full month of legal sports betting in Colorado.

RI sports betting revenue reaches $18.7m in FY2020

Rhode Island’s legal sports betting market generated $18.7m in revenue during the state’s 2019-20 financial year, despite the final four months of the period being impacted by the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

Total revenue for the 12 months to June 30, 2020, was up 171.0% year-on-year, though the $6.9m recorded for the 2018-19 fiscal year only covered an eight-month period, with legal betting launching in November 2018.

Intralot signs gaming partnership with Major League Baseball

Intralot has agreed a new deal to become an authorised gaming partner of Major League Baseball (MLB).

Under the agreement, which came into effect ahead of yesterday’s (23 July) start of the 2020 regular season, Intralot will have access to official MLB data, marks, and logos for its sports wagering platforms.

theScore sees Q3 revenue drop in “period of unprecedented challenge”

TheScore has seen revenue fall 71.8% year-on-year in the three months to May 31, in a period which chief executive John Levy described as an “unprecedented challenge” for the Canadian media and betting business.

With the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis leading to the suspension of sporting events around the world, revenue for the three months to May 31 declined to CAD$2.4m.

Kindred approved for Indiana mobile betting launch

The Indiana Gaming Commission has given its full approval for Kindred Group’s Unibet brand to operate mobile sports betting in the state.

Unibet Indiana LLC was in May issued a temporary vendor license to offer sports betting in partnership with Caesar Entertainment’s Horseshoe Hammond casino in Hammond, Indiana.

GiG receives NJ casino service license

Gaming Innovation Group (GiG) subsidiary iGaming Cloud has received a five-year casino service industry enterprise license (CSIE) from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE).

This allowing the supplier to offer its online casino platform to New Jersey operators.

CDI seals deal to launch BetAmerica in Michigan

Churchill Downs Incorporated (CDI) is set to launch its BetAmerica brand in the state of Michigan, after agreeing a new partnership with the Hannahville Indian Community.

Under the arrangement, CDI plans to open a retail BetAmerica sportsbook at the Native American tribe’s Island Resort and Casino in Harris, Michigan.

HeadsUp resurfaces with igaming acquisition in “final stages”

HeadsUp Entertainment – the former owners of the Canadian Poker Tour – said it is in the “final stage” of negotiations to acquire an online betting and gaming business.

In the business’ first update in three years, it revealed that is in the final stages of a deal to acquire between 50% and 100% of the shares of a “a licensed online sportsbook and online casino platform”. It aims to sign a letter of intent related to the acquisition in the coming two weeks.

William Hill launches in Colorado with Caesars

Sports betting operator William Hill has launched in Colorado with six kiosks at Caesars Entertainment’s Isle Casino Hotel and Lady Luck Casino in Black Hawk.

Isle Casino Hotel and Lady Luck Casino were operated by Eldorado Resorts prior to the operator’s merger with Caesars Entertainment and decision to go by the Caesars brand name. William Hill agreed a deal to operate the sportsbook at Eldorado’s properties in Colorado and Iowa in 2018.

MA amendments double betting tax and add ilottery component

The Massachusetts legislature has amended the sports wagering bill put forward last week, adding provisions to legalize online lotteries, but doubling the tax rate for online betting.

Last week, a new economic development package bill was introduced in the state’s legislature, including a section aimed at legalizing sports wagering in the state.

MA includes betting in economic development package

Lawmakers in Massachusetts are to consider a new economic development package bill that includes a section aimed at legalizing sports wagering in the state.

Sponsored by the Massachusetts House Committee on Ways and Means, H.4879 is an act designed to enable “partnerships for growth” in the state, and sets out a host of proposed measures.

Tipico brings in NetEnt to support New Jersey launch

German betting and gaming operator Tipico has entered into a new partnership with NetEnt, as it continues preparations for its launch in New Jersey.

Under the agreement, NetEnt will provide Tipico with a range of its online video slots and table games, with the content to go live as soon as the operator launches its platform in the state.

In-person registration resumes in Illinois

Consumers in Illinois will once again have to register in person for online sports betting accounts, after Governor J.B. Pritzker failed to extend a an executive order relaxing the requirement.

Last month, Pritzker signed Executive Order 2020-41, which relaxed rules that require players in Illinois to register in-person in order to access online sports betting services.

PGA Tour signs DraftKings as first official betting partner

DraftKings has expanded its partnership with the PGA Tour to become the first official betting operator for the golf tournament organiser.

Under the agreement, DraftKings will have rights in the US to use the PGA Tour’s trademarks, as well as rights to advertise within Tour media and Tour partner platforms.