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State of the Union: New Jersey, Scientific Games, Virginia and more

Insight | Analysis

This week’s State of the Union, in partnership with Segev LLP, includes a record month for sports betting handle in New Jersey, new sports betting regulations in Virginia and billionaire Ron Perelman’s decision to sell his 39.6% stake in supplier Scientific Games for more than $900m.

Sports betting enjoys strong August as NJ recovery continues

The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE) has reported a month-on-month increase in revenue across all gambling segments for August, as the state continued its recovery from the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) shutdown.

Overall gaming revenue for the month amounted to $326.3m, which was 7.5% lower than at the same point last year, but 23.4% higher than $264.5m in July this year, as players returned to land-based casinos and the restart of major sports events boosted the state’s sports betting sector.

Focusing on sports wagering, revenue in this segment totalled $39.5m for the month, up 56.7% from $25.2m last year and 33.9% higher than $29.5m in July.

Scientific Games chairman Perelman to sell 34.9% stake

Scientific Games has announced that investor Ron Perelman will sell a 34.9% stake in the supplier for more than $900m to a group of institutional investors.

Perelman’s investment fund, MacAndrews & Forbes, will sell the stake to investors including FTSE 250 member Caledonia Investments for $28.00 per share,in a deal that will also see two Aristocrat Leisure veterans join Scientific Games’ board.

“Scientific Games is well-positioned for future success given our industry leading portfolio of products and technologies, loyal customer base and talented leadership team,” Scientific Games chairman Barry Cottle said. “We are pleased to have the support of our refreshed Board and new investor base as we continue to execute on our strategy to drive meaningful long-term growth and shareholder value creation.”

Virginia Lottery approves sports betting regulations

The Virginia Lottery Board has approved sports betting rules, clearing the way for the licensing process to begin next month.

Earlier this year, Virginia lawmakers passed a bill to legalize online and mobile sports betting, which will allow wagering on professional collegiate sports event, excluding Virginia-based college and university teams.

Lawmakers in June then began accepting written suggestions from sports leagues and sportsbook operators as it developed rules for the market. Preliminary draft regulations were posted online for public comment from July 15 until September 9.

AGA marketing code for betting comes into effect

The American Gaming Association (AGA)’s has introduced a new code of conduct to prevent irresponsible advertising by its members for their sportsbook products.

The code, titled the Responsible Marketing Code for Sports Wagering, states that “messages will not promote irresponsible or excessive participation in sports wagering” and that “each message will contain a responsible gaming message, along with a toll-free help line number where practical”.

In addition, advertisements may not suggest “social, financial or personal success is guaranteed by engaging in sports wagering”.

ESPN to promote William Hill, DraftKings odds through new deal

Sports media giant ESPN has agreed deals with both Caesars Entertainment and DraftKings to showcase odds from William Hill and daily fantasy sports information from DraftKings.

The deal will see ESPN post and link to odds from William Hill, Caesars’ sports betting partner, while Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill will also become a sponsor of ESPN’s fantasy games. ESPN will also link to odds and daily fantasy information from DraftKings.

“Our new agreements with Caesars and DraftKings collectively represent the next significant milestone for ESPN to diversify our exposure and deepen our commitment in the sports betting space,” Mike Morrison, vice president of business development and innovation at ESPN, said.

Loto Québec 2019-20 revenue down but remains above target

Loto Québec’s revenue for the year ended 31 March dipped by 3.1% to CAD$2.74bn (US$2.08bn) and profit declined to $1.35bn, but the operator said both figures remained above target despite the effects of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic in the final weeks of the year.

Despite the pandemic, casinos took the top spot as a source of revenue, bringing in $963.7m, up 5.0%, of which $694.8m came from land-based gaming, down 5.1%.

However, this was offset by online casino revenue rising 25.7% to $96.4m and internal restructuring, which meant that the Salons de Jeux gaming hall chain was included in the division’s figures, adding a further $66.5m.

iGaming and sports betting push PA revenue up in August

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) has reported a 5.8% year-on-year increase in revenue in August, driven by igaming and sports betting growth.

Overall gambling revenue in August amounted to $310.4m, up from $293.4m in the same month last year and 9.6% higher than in July this year, despite the state still having to contend with certain measures and restrictions linked to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

Pennsylvania’s online gambling market witnessed significant growth during the month, with revenue here rocketing 1,544.1% from just $3.4m in August 2019 – the first full month of activity – to $55.9m, a new monthly record for the state.

Unikrn agrees $6.1m SEC settlement over 2017 ICO

Esports betting operator Unikrn has agreed a settlement worth $6.1m with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) after it was found to have carried out an unregistered initial coin offering (ICO) of digital asset securities.

According to the SEC, Unikrn raised approximately $31m through its offering of the UnikoinGold (UKG) token between June and October 2017.

Big Ten college football to resume from October 23

The Big Ten Conference’s Council of Presidents and Chancellors has voted to begin the 2020 college football season on October 23.

The conference, mainly covering the Midwest region, last month opted to suspend all fall sports, with the West coast-based Pac-12 Conference soon following suit.

Indiana betting revenue tops $100m in first year

Indiana sportsbooks took in revenue of $9.8m in June, up 47.6% from July, as stakes hit $1.20bn and revenue exceeded $100m for the first 12 months of legal sports betting in the state.

The $9.8m in revenue came on handle of $169.0m, up 138.4% year-on-year, while operators paid wagering taxes of $934,314. All three figures were the highest totals since February, before the impact of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) in the US.

Rush Street on top in early months of Illinois betting

Rush Street’s Rivers Des Plaines has taken an early lead in the Illinois sports betting market, with figures from the state’s Gaming Board revealing that it accounted for the vast majority of amounts wagered between March and July.

The Illinois Gaming Board revealed that players wagered $61.8m since 9 March, when Rivers Des Plaines took the first legal bets in the state via its Kambi-powered sportsbook. Penn National’s Argosy Casino Alton riverboat casino was the only other property to begin accepting wagers during that month.

Delaware igaming growth continues into August

Online gambling revenue in the state of Delaware totalled $808,623 in August, up 263.4% year-on-year and also an improvement on July’s figures.

Data from the Delaware Lottery showed igaming revenue was significantly up from $222,504 in August 2019, while the total represented a 15.1% increase on the the $702,533 posted in July.

Michigan betting revenue reaches $1.97m in August

Detroit’s three commercial casinos generated revenue of $69.3m in August, the first results reported since the properties reopened following four and a half months closed due to novel coronavirus (Covid-19), while sports betting’s contribution grew to $1.97m.

The properties were permitted to reopen from 5 August, but limited to 15% of their fire code capacity to avoid transmission of the virus.

Philadelphia Eagles sign Fox Bet sponsorship deal

The NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles have signed a new multi-year partnership with Flutter brand Fox Bet, who will launch a new studio at the team’s home stadium, Lincoln Financial Field.

The deal will include broadcast, digital and social media advertising on team channels, custom promotions and a “strong branding presence on game days”. In addition, Fox Bet messages will feature prominently on scoreboards at the stadium.

Mississippi sports betting revenue climbs again in August

The Mississippi Gaming Commission has reported a 27.6% year-on-year rise in sports wagering revenue in August, as the US state’s handle more than doubled.

Revenue in August amounted to $3.7m, up from $2.9m in the same month last year, while the figure also represented a 184.6% month-on-month improvement on $1.3m in revenue posted in July this year.

theScore to trade on Toronto Stock Exchange from 15 September

Canadian betting and sports media business theScore has received final approval to list on the Toronto Stock Exchange as of tomorrow (15 September), graduating from the TSX Venture Exchange.

The business will trade under the same SCR stock ticker as it did on the TSX Venture Exchange.

Betfred launches Colorado and Iowa mobile sportsbooks

Betfred USA Sports, the US-facing arm of the British bookmaker, has rolled out online wagering in Colorado and Iowa.

Its new Scientific Games-powered online and mobile wagering apps complement its retail sportsbooks in each state. It will look to attract online customers in Colorado with a risk-free bet of up to $500 for new sign-ups, and a 100% deposit matching offer in Iowa, of up to $200.

DraftKings seals wide ranging NY Giants partnership

DraftKings has agreed an exclusive, multi-year partnership with the New York Giants that sees the sports betting giant become the National Football League (NFL) franchise’s official wagering, igaming and daily fantasy partner.

Through the new partnership, which builds on an existing relationship between the parties, DraftKings has been granted access to official Giants trademarks and logos.

Sportech signs up as associate member of NASPL

Betting technology supplier Sportech has been accepted as an associate member of the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries (NASPL).

NASPL focuses on promoting the benefits of state and provincial lotteries, and advocating in matters of general policy.

DraftKings hands top accounting role to Bradbury

Sports betting and daily fantasy sports operator DraftKings has appointed Erik Bradbury as its new chief accounting officer with immediate effect.

Reporting directly to chief financial officer Jason Park, Bradbury will oversee the operator’s corporate accounting functions, such as Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and regulatory reporting, operational accounting, accounting policy, and development of relevant accounting positions.

Empire City Casino to reopen September 21

New York-based Empire City Casino, owned and operated by MGM Resorts International, will reopen for business in a limited capacity from Monday, September 21.

Restrictions on customer capacity and availability of food and beverage will be put in place upon reopening, according to state regulations.

William Hill launches mobile sportsbook in Illinois

William Hill has launched a mobile sportsbook in Illinois, marking the sixth state in which the operator has rolled out an online betting product.

The sportsbook app will operate via a partnership with Caesars Entertainment’s Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin, Illinois, where William Hill also opened a retail sportsbook last month.

GeoComply launches multi-state self-exclusion tool

Location verification specalist GeoComply has announced the launch of PlayPause, a solution that allows players to self-exclude from gambling across multiple states.

The tool, which will be offered for free to operators, allows a player’s self-exclusion to move with them over state lines, “to prevent incidence of simply crossing a state line and continuing to gamble”. It also gives operators access to greater player data on those who have self-excluded in one state.

PointsBet rolls out sportsbook offering in Illinois

Online gambling operator PointsBet has launched its online, mobile and retail sportsbook offerings in the state of Illinois.

PointsBet’s sports betting website and mobile application will be available to players across the state, with players able to bet on a range of professional and collegiate sports.

Oregon Lottery sets betting handle record in August

Oregon’s SBTech-powered betting app scoreboard took in revenue of $1.7m, up 6.6%, in August, and set a new record for turnover at $25.8m, up 83.8%.

The number of active players grew by 40.6% to 17,293 as 2,690 new customers registered, up 85.0% from the 1,454 who registered for Scoreboard in July. Group unveils new RG resource hub

Affiliate marketing specialist Group has launched Responsible Gambling Center, a new portfolio of resources aimed at combatting problem gambling and related harm.

The new resources, Group said, have been designed to help people recognize problematic behaviour early and provide access to support groups and organizations in the markets where it operates.