Bet365 launches mobile sportsbook in Virginia as methodical US expansion continues
Bet365 started taking mobile sportsbooks in Virginia Tuesday, the fourth state launch for the European gaming giant that has slowly expanded in the US.
Tuesday’s Virginia launch follows launches in New Jersey, Colorado and Ohio. In Virginia, bet365 joins more than a dozen other live sportsbooks.
Bet365 started taking bets in Virginia months after it was licensed to do so and more than two years after the state’s first legal books launched.
It also launched months after its competitors in both New Jersey and Colorado. The book’s Jan. 1 launch in Ohio was the first time bet365 went live the first time it was permitted to do so in law.
Bet365 withdrew its Massachusetts online license application earlier this month and does not appear to have a future in the state. The company applied for a New York mobile license in 2021 but was not one of the nine operators selected.
The company’s future expansion plans remain uncertain. Iowa, Indiana and Arizona are among the state markets with favorable business environments that would seem like potential moves, but there have not been any publicly announced launch plans.
Slow and steady approach
One of Europe’s leading operators, bet365 has not pursued the US market nearly as aggressively as many of its competitors.
Flutter Entertainment, operator of well-known European companies including Paddy Power and Betfair, acquired FanDuel as its American-facing brand shortly after the US Supreme Court struck down the federal wagering ban in May 2018. FanDuel is now the leading US sportsbook by gross gaming revenue and is making up an increasing percentage of Flutter’s revenue overall.
Entain, operator of Coral and Ladbrokes, in 2018 announced a 50/50 joint venture with MGM Resorts to create BetMGM, which is now America’s third-leading sports betting operator by market share. Caesars, which acquired and rebranded venerable UK operator William Hill in 2021, is No. 4.
Boston-based DraftKings is the nation’s No. 2 operator by handle. It acquired gaming platform SBTech and went public in the US.
This quartet has combined for more than 80% of total US sports betting market share. A host of other international companies including PointsBet, Betfred and 888 have also launched sports betting platforms in the US, but have significantly less market share than the aforementioned quartet.
Bet365 has less than 1% market share in New Jersey and Colorado. Ohio’s first revenue report is expected to be released in February.
Though bet365 has not made much headway in the US it has also not lost nearly as much money as its competitors. All of the leading operators by market share have lost hundreds of millions of dollars annually in recent high-profile marketing and player acquisition efforts. Only FanDuel has ever posted a positive revenue quarter in the US.
Speculation continues swirly about a major move by bet365. Lauded by industry stakeholders for its platform and betting offerings, privately-held bet365 is also believed to have some of the deepest financial resources of any gaming company in the world.
Bet365 has so far launched each sportsbook under its eponymous brand, which is a household name in Europe but still little known in the US. As many American gaming companies have lost value in the past 12 months, industry figures have speculated bet365 may try to acquire a better-known US brand, as have many of its competitors, but there is no clear indication such a development is evident.
Tuesday’s bet365 launch brings another operator to what is becoming one of the nation’s more well-rounded markets.
All four leading operators have gone live in Virginia. So too have PointsBet, BetRivers and Barstool, which are also among the nation’s top operators by market share.
These seven books join 888’s SI sportsbook, WynnBet, Bally Bet, Unibet, Betway and Hard Rock. Golden Nugget also offered sports betting in the state before it was acquired by DraftKings and subsequently folded.
Virginia has one of the nation’s highest per capita as well as education levels, factors that correlate positively with sports betting participation. The Old Dominion is also opening four full-scale commercial casinos in the state, which are permitted under state law to open on-property retail sportsbooks.