It’s information overload everywhere, and there’s not time enough to sleep and eat and stay fully apprised of what’s happening on this crazy blue dot of ours (two out of three ain’t bad). Here’s the weekend Sports Handle item, “Get a Grip,” recapping the week’s top U.S. sports betting headlines, highlighting some fresh news, and rounding up key stories.
Top stories around our network this week
In the world of sports betting operators, some keep opening new doors as others are slamming their old ones shut, while still more peers do their remodeling to try to make everything work better.
This week brought the announcement that the fledgling Fanatics Sportsbook is no longer in test mode. The longtime merchandiser that hopes to become an online sports betting behemoth is now fully operational in four states: Ohio, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Tennessee. It hopes to be active in many more as the betting-intensive football season gets underway.
Fanatics has a deal to purchase PointsBet’s U.S. business to enable it to expand into additional states. The Wyoming Gaming Commission has a special meeting on Aug. 31 where the agenda includes an item on allowing the transfer of the PointsBet wagering license to Fanatics. Regulators in Colorado, Kansas, and Virginia are also considering or will consider the transfer of the licenses by the end of the month, and the New York State Gaming Commission expects to take up the matter in September.
Of the existing states in which Fanatics operates, Ohio is the biggest. It has embraced its role there by opening a retail sportsbook Friday at the Cleveland Guardians’ Progressive Field, with plans for another to open soon at the Columbus Blue Jackets’ Nationwide Arena.
Fanatics could be one of the beneficiaries of Wynn Resorts’ decision to shut down its WynnBET site in at least eight states, as the departure frees up a potential license in a state like Arizona where the number of operators is capped. In Maryland, on the other hand, WynnBET had a license but never even launched, and it is withdrawing that license.
All of those changes take place at the same time that reverberations are still circulating over PENN Entertainment’s decision last week to replace its Barstool Sportsbook through a new partnership with ESPN, resulting in a rebrand of the site as ESPN BET in November. A number of media commentators have expressed skepticism over how profitable that transition will actually be for PENN. One person clearly profiting, however, is Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy by getting his company back for $1, according to the analysts Sports Handle interviewed.
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If it sometimes seems like there’s too much to keep up with in this ever-evolving industry, don’t worry — that’s what Sports Handle’s staff is here for, diligently tracking the comings and goings and ups and downs. The wide-ranging stories linked below show the breadth of our coverage this past week, and for broader news of the gambling industry, be sure to check out sister site US Bets, including its weekly Double Down column and Gamble On podcast.
Make room for three more
Florida betting on hold …. still
Keeping up with the times
OK, class, time for Sports Betting 101
Sharing thoughts in Saratoga
Rushing to be in Delaware
More new branding on the horizon
Football and futures — what a parlay
Better than chess and checkers?
So much money in so many places
New wrinkle in Florida court case
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Wednesday issued an order for the Department of the Interior to respond to West Flagler and Associates’ filing of a petition requesting an en banc hearing. According to the court’s handbook, such petitions are “rarely granted,” but the court does have the option to request such a response.
The two parties are in court over the legality of a compact between the state of Florida and the Seminole Tribe that would give the Seminoles a monopoly on retail and digital sports betting in Florida. As long as the case is still active, the Seminoles cannot launch their Hard Rock Bet wagering platform.
The DOI has 15 days from the day of the request to respond, which would be Aug. 29. From there, the court will determine whether it will rehear the case. There is no specific timeline laid out for when the court must decide. West Flagler and Associates is requesting a decision on the compact by the entire court, rather than the three-judge panel that in June overturned a lower court ruling.
— Jill R. Dorson
Kentucky pre-registration begins Aug. 28
The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission announced Thursday that individuals will be able to pre-register for digital sports wagering accounts beginning Aug. 28, one month ahead of the online launch. Retail wagering is set to go live at 10 a.m. on Sept. 7. On that day, bettors with digital accounts can fund those accounts, but online wagering won’t be available until Sept. 28.
The KHRC is set to meet Tuesday to vote on applications for seven sports betting operators and seven horse tracks that can have retail locations. The following sportsbook operators have applied for licenses: bet365, BetMGM, Caesars Sportsbook, Circa, DraftKings, FanDuel, and Penn Sports Interactive.
— Jill R. Dorson
Tweet of the week
“I said ‘Don’t you know what happened to Pete Rose? … You betting on the Ryder Cup, that would destroy your career.'”
Renowned sports bettor Billy Walters recounts when Phil Mickelson allegedly asked to wager on the 2012 Ryder Cup. pic.twitter.com/PMgwqItHyX
— Outside the Lines (@OTLonESPN) August 17, 2023
More of the most important, interesting stories
I CAN DO THIS! REALLY!: Athletes’ confidence, competitiveness explain willingness and risk to bet on own games, experts say [Associated Press]
IN A STATE OF NEGLECT? Will PENN still ignore Nevada now that its sports betting partner is ESPN? [The Nevada Independent]
YES, BETTING WILL BE DISCUSSED: ESPN announces debut date, time for “Pat McAfee Show” [Sports Illustrated]
We will be launching on ESPN September 7th..
— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) August 17, 2023
GOING FOR A NEW LOOK: William Hill sportsbook launching new mobile betting app in Nevada [Las Vegas Review-Journal]
THE RETAIL COUNT IN ARKANSAS: Saracen sports betting outpaces Oaklawn and Southland [Deltaplex News]
GOOD THING HE DIDN’T HAVE A FUNNY NAME: Fan gives newborn “Mookie” as middle name after HR bet with Betts [Associated Press]