There is still plenty of work to be done by Fanatics if its acquisition of PointsBet is approved, according to the latest Sports Betting Market Monitor from Eilers & Krejcik Gaming (EKG).
M&A back on the menu
Of course, no discussion of US sports betting this month would be complete without some mention of Fanatics’ $150m acquisition of PointsBet’s US operations.
According to EKG’s analysis of the acquisition, Fanatics’ key priority for the purchase was securing a “competitive/very competitive OSB product”.
The report points out that PointsBet’s app consistently ranks third in EKG’s proprietary testing of US betting products, behind only market leaders FanDuel and DraftKings.
Further, the inclusion of Banach Technology – the sports betting platform and trading company PointsBet acquired for $43m in 2021 – would certainly have helped sweeten the deal for Fanatics.
Banach was “a core driver for the proposed deal,” in EKG’s view, “thanks to its potential to provide differentiated price-driven products such as micro markets, no delay in-play wagering, and in-house SGP.”
EKG suggested Banach’s value today would be “double or triple” the $43m PointsBet originally paid for it.
Still, Fanatics’ acquisition of PointsBet will not turn the business into a market leader overnight.
While the firm will acquire some customers (PointsBet had 317,000 US paid actives in the 12 months to March 2023) and market access (the brand is currently live in 14 states), the operator boasted just a 1.7% share of the US online sports betting market by GGR in Q1 2023, according to EKG’s proprietary tracking data.
In addition, if the deal is approved, Fanatics will need to work out what to do with its Amelco-based product, which is still under development after it acquired the sportsbook supplier’s source code.
EKG suggests the company’s strategy would be to combine the best of that product with the best of PointsBet, which “would not be easy or cheap,” and could bring with it “significant cash burn and opportunity cost risk.”
Overall, EKG concluded, despite the challenges it now faces, Fanatics has a strong sports betting team which carries the added benefit of having learnt from the successes and failures of its competitors in the early stages of US online sports betting.
While scaling sports betting operations in the US is undoubtedly a major challenge, the report concludes: “We think Fanatics has compelling talent, assets, and potential, and also note that the company is entering the US OSB market at a time when that market – currently characterised by homogeneous products and a softening competitive landscape – is ripe for disruption.”
State-by-state handle growth
The report also sets out online sports betting handle growth across the US on a state-by-state basis, by comparing handle from the trailing 12 months to the previous 12 months.
As long-established markets continue to mature, the above table lays out where growth has begun to slow – or in some cases, turn to negative – in various states.
New Jersey and Nevada showed the biggest comparative losses, as handle in the two states was down by 8.9% and 7.9% respectively in the trailing 12-month period, compared to the previous 12 months.
Iowa also saw a reduction in its handle year-on-year, as the amount wagered by its residents fell by 3%.
Meanwhile West Virginia, Indiana, New York, and Pennsylvania made modest single-digit gains on handle year-on-year, with betting volumes up 1.3%, 2.6%, 4.3% and 4.9%, respectively.
One outlier on the chart was Arkansas following its launch of online sports betting in April 2022. That gave the state a year-on-year increase of 868.5% in betting handle to $201.9m for the trailing 12 months, up frm just $3.3m in the previous 12 months.
Other standout performing states included Oregon, with 49.5% growth, Louisiana, up 43.8% and Wyoming, up 43.8%.
By market share, New York, Illinois, and New Jersey far outranked other states with market shares of 18.1%, 10.9% and 10.8%, respectively.
Together, the top 10 states by market share – New York, Illinois, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, Virginia, Michigan and Indiana – accounted for over 80% of sports betting handle nationally.
Digital advertising activity in major US cities
Another interesting data point included in this month’s report is the development in the number of digital advertising impressions for leading sports betting brands across major US metropolitan areas.
The data shows a huge spike in Q1 2022, driven by in excess of one billion digital sports betting ad impressions in New York City alone.
The number of impressions dropped significantly to under 400m in Q2, across all 10 major cities, while Q3 showed a seasonal uptick relating to the start of the NFL season in September.
Q4 2022 was another relatively quiet period in terms of digital ad impressions, with a little over 400m, before Q1 2023 generated another major spike related to the launches of online sports betting in Ohio and Massachusetts.
There, large spikes in Boston and Cleveland can be seen as operators in those markets rushed to secure new potential customers.
Q2 2023 to date shows another relatively sedate period for online advertising, likely the result of a less packed sporting calendar combined with the absence of any new state launches.
Ad impressions across all 10 cities total around 200m for the quarter so far.
EKG said the data is a useful indicator of overall US online sports betting advertising velocity and seasonality.
Promotional spend in newly opened markets
In less mature states, the above charts demonstrate the high investment and sharp drop-off of promotional spending in newly launched sports betting markets.
Leading operators across Ohio, Maryland and Massachusetts can be seen making large investments in the first month or two of each market’s opening before promo spend drops rapidly.
For example, FanDuel and DraftKings dropped their promotion spend in Ohio by 88% and 79% respectively, between January 2023 – when the market first opened – and February.
A similar pattern is seen in both Kansas and Maryland following their launches in September and November last year, after which FanDuel, DraftKings and BetMGM all saw their promotional spending drop precipitously.
According to the charts, Kansas was the state which attracted the smallest amount of promo spending from each brand since its launch, while Ohio has garnered the most.
EKG’s monthly report provides a digest of news and data points, including forecasts, for the emerging market for regulated sports betting in the United States. Please contact managing director Chris Krafcik for more information.
GAN has reported a reduction in both B2B and B2C revenue in Q1 as the firm’s formal strategic review continues.
GAN’s Q1 2023 revenue slipped by 6.3% year-on-year to $35.1m as the business saw reductions across both its B2B and B2C business segments.
B2B revenue took the biggest hit, falling 13.7% to $11.3m, while B2C revenue fell by 2.4% to $23.9m.
The reduction in B2B revenue was the result of a renegotiation of the company’s contractual revenue rates with its largest customer in that segment, FanDuel.
The revenue left the business with adjusted EBITDA of close to zero, at just $39,000. That represented a significant decline from the $3m in adjusted EBITDA reported in Q1 2022.
Despite posting an operating loss of $6m (down from a $4.1m operating loss in Q1 2022), the business declared a net income of $1.5m after accounting for a $9.3m gain on the amendment of a content licensing agreement alongside for interest, tax, amortisation and depreciation expenses.
The $9.3m gain came from changes to an agreement with Ainsworth Technologies, under which GAN issued 1.25 million new shares to the business in order to reduce the cost of exclusively licensing its iGaming content by $15m.
Posting a net profit for the quarter represented a significant turnaround from the $4.5m net loss posted in Q1 2022, and gave the business earnings per share of $0.03, compared to a loss per share of $0.11 in the prior year.
A formal strategic review process continues at GAN after it was initiated in Q4 2022.
During Q1, the company executed the plan’s three initial steps, namely the reduction of its future cash commitments to Ainsworth Technologies through its content partnership, the restructuring of its debt obligations to reduce interest expenses and the removal of its B2C Coolbet brand from the Ontario market.
On the firm’s Q1 earnings call, CEO Dermot Smurfit said: “While each of these steps are immensely positive in isolation, the strategic review continues forward and we will update the market when appropriate.”
The business’ new strategy consists of focusing on its B2B efforts in North America via GAN Sports and B2C operations in Latam via Coolbet, where it said the rate of return on investment is significantly greater than in higher-cost markets such as Ontario.
In the B2B division, meanwhile, GAN has renewed an exclusive partnership with FanDuel for the provision of its iGaming platform and PAM in the US and Ontario.
While the contract renegotiation was blamed for the reduction in GAN’s B2B revenue in Q1, the business said the dip was partially offset by an increase in FanDuel’s share of the North American iGaming market.
The business has also begun the process of rolling out operations with Wynn Resorts, with “a very large number of markets going live this summer” with the casino operator.
GAN first rolled out operations with Wynn in Massachusetts, for both land-based and online sports betting, which Smurfit said was a “super positive rollout” and garnered significant attention across the industry.
In addition, pending regulatory approval in Nevada, GAN expects to go live with Station Casinos this summer, which Smurfit said he thinks will be “a massive and highly impactful industry-wide shift in the tectonic plates of vendor infrastructure provision in major gaming markets.”
Smurfit concluded that the business expects to onboard further new B2B clients for its GAN Sports offering throughout 2023.
Chad Beynon from Macquarie Group asked GAN’s CEO what progress the business had made in Mexico and if the business is still “as excited” as it was about the market when it announced its renewed focus on Latam earlier this year.
In response, CEO Smurfit said the business is still excited about Mexico, but that launching there has been “perhaps a little bit slower out of the gates than we anticipated at the very beginning of this year.”
Smurfit added that early indications in the market are positive, however, and that “as with all new market entries, you have to be very, very patient and optimise the conversion funnel to new depositing players before you start allocating significant amounts of marketing capital.”
The business therefore expects to continue optimising its product, he said, although it has been “extremely well received in all the Latin American markets that it’s rolled out into.”
GAN’s renewed focus on Latam markets has therefore left the business “very excited about the B2C division and the return to growth prospects after a relatively pedestrian growth performance in 2022, which is behind our expectations,” Smurfit said.
“But the indicators in the current quarter and looking forward through the year are very positive,” he concluded.
Current trading and outlook
Due to the continuing strategic review, GAN declined to provide any earnings guidance for the rest of 2023.
“The variability of potential outcomes prevents us from providing an outlook within a reasonable range,” Smurfit said, “although we expect to be in a position to provide guidance for the year upon the resolution of these discussions hopefully in the near future.”
In the company’s Q1 report, the business said it was assessing a range of strategic alternatives to maximise shareholder value.
Alluding to the possibility of a sale of the business, it added: “There can be no assurance that the review process will result in pursuing or completing any transaction, and no timetable has been set for completion of this process.
“The company will provide updates, as appropriate,” it concluded.
Flutter’s US dominance was once again laid bare in its Q1 2023 financial report, although the company is also taking share from competitors in the UK & Ireland.
Total Q1 revenue reached £2.41bn amid an annual rise of 46%.
Sports revenue rose by 53% to £1.5bn, while gaming revenue came in at £916m following a year-on-year increase of 35%.
The US, where Flutter is the market leader through FanDuel, was the standout performer on a geographic basis as revenue soared 92%, including a 147% climb in sportsbook revenue.
Flutter said this culminated in 50% US sports betting market share for FanDuel, with the US business “firmly on track” for profitability this year. Its iGaming market share is closer to 23%.
“In the US, the combination of the FanDuel Advantage and the Flutter Edge drove further market share gains,” said Flutter CEO Peter Jackson.
The operator added more than 1.5 million US customers in Q1 and its US sports betting handle of $10.9bn represented nearly 60% of the group’s overall sportsbook stakes.
Flutter reported revenue growth in all key markets except for Australia, where revenue declined by 4% year-on-year to £289m. This was blamed on tough Covid comparatives.
UK & Ireland revenue rose by 17% to £608m. In this market, online revenue rose by 17% to £532m as retail revenue grew by 15% to £77m driven by Paddy Power.
International revenue jumped by 69% to £605m and was boosted by Italian market leader Sisal.
Finally, average monthly players rose by 30% in Q1 to more than 12.3 million.
The US has dominated the headlines for Flutter recently, and rightly so, but one of the most interesting takes from this report is that the company is also stealing market share in the UK.
The UK & Ireland division continued to significantly outperform the market with AMP growth of 11% to more than 4 million.
Sports revenue from the region grew by 16% driven by good retention of World Cup players from Q4 and strong customer acquisition.
A regional net revenue margin of 11.1% was in line with expectations but 150 basis points higher than last year thanks to an increase in the penetration of the operator’s BetBuilder products.
Regulus Partners analyst Paul Leyland said the Q1 numbers point to material market share gains versus both Entain and 888.
UK & Ireland gaming revenue rose 17% and was helped in the quarter by enhanced daily prize mechanics, with the introduction of bonus rounds and guaranteed jackpots.
The firm’s Sky Vegas brand also benefitted from an expansion of live casino content which boosted player engagement.
Peel Hunt analyst Ivor Jones said Flutter was “clearly taking market share” in the UK.
“Customers acquired during the World Cup have been retained and contributed to sports
revenue being up 16%,” said Jones.
“Increased use of BetBuilder contributed to margin improvement and is further evidence of the advantages of Flutter’s scale in terms of technology and product development,” he added.
For context, Susquehanna analyst Joseph Stauff asked whether Saturday’s Kentucky Derby was likely to be as big an acquisition event in the US for Flutter as Cheltenham Festival is in the UK.
Jackson said that people in 33 US states would be able to bet on the Kentucky Derby via the FanDuel racing app.
“All those Californians who are desperate to get a bet on can open their FanDuel app and I think we’re going to give people a $20 free swing,” said Jackson. “It will be a big opportunity for us to acquire customers,” he added.
Ed Young of Morgan Stanley was the first analyst to ask a question on today’s call.
With a credit card ban set to be introduced in Australia, Young asked about Flutter’s exposure to credit card deposits in the market and the potential financial impact going forwards.
Flutter is also the market leader in Australia with its Sportsbet brand, despite the 4% Q1 revenue decline.
“We’ve seen this happen all around the world,” said Jackson. “When regulatory changes happen, we grow through those typically and it helps reinforce our market-leading position.”
Jackson said that only a small percentage of Flutter’s Australian customers solely use credit cards.
“If we look at what happened when credit cards were banned in the UK, we guided to a 2% revenue headwind and I think that is probably a reasonable estimate for you to use in Australia,” he added.
Current trading and outlook
Leyland of Regulus Partners provided some competitive market outlook commentary following Flutter’s strong performance in both the UK and the US.
“Flutter’s ability to use a strong central platform and local businesses with sufficient scale and flexibility to differentiate is not just paying off, it is changing the nature of the competitive landscape in regulated markets, in our view.
“While we do not believe that gambling markets ever adopt ‘winner takes all’ economics (outside liquidity-led products), we are now seeing ‘winner makes it very uncomfortable for everybody else’ dynamics which look set to become more pronounced rather than less in the medium term.”
The advisory firm believes Flutter’s main competitive threats are now coming from the black market, which is taking advantage of Flutter’s increasing compliance-led focus on recreational customers.
“For regulated markets to work effectively, legitimate VIPs need a champion too,” Leyland added.
DraftKings went straight to the top of the leaderboard of sports betting operators in its home state of Massachusetts during the market’s first month post-launch.
Massachusetts OSB leaderboard
Since the market opened on 10 March, the Boston-headquartered operator has secured some 46.9% of sports betting handle, putting it in pole position among Massachusetts licensees.
Across all operators, bettors in Massachusetts wagered around $563.9m in March, generating $46.7m in revenue for operators in the process, according to data released by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission and compiled by Eilers & Krejcik Gaming (EKG).
Of the overall total, DraftKings took $257.6m in bets and generated $16.1m in GGR. That equates to the operator securing 34.5% of statewide online sports betting GGR for the month.
National US market leader FanDuel, meanwhile, was able to secure marginally higher GGR of $16.3m, due to its better hold rate of 9% (DraftKings secured around 6.3%), despite taking a smaller proportion of handle in the state at $186.7m, or 33.1% of the total.
In third place, but a long way behind the top two, was BetMGM, which generated $7.4m in GGR from $46.9m in bets.
Those figures left the top three operators replicating a scenario commonly seen across US online sports betting markets, as they together secured more than 85% of the market.
Bringing up the rear were Massachusetts’ other three licensees, Barstool Sportsbook ($3m GGR from $30.2m handle), WynnBet ($2.1m GGR from $18.8m handle) and Caesars Sportsbook ($1.9m GGR from $16.8m handle).
Those relatively meagre results came in spite of Barstool being founded in Massachusetts, and WynnBet’s parent company operating a major land-based casino in the state, potentially offering both brands a certain ‘home’ advantage in Massachusetts.
How did they do it?
Massachusetts’ impressive start was the result of comparatively high level of bets per adult in the state, with EKG calculating the average day-adjusted OSB handle per adult at around $165 (generating $14 per adult in GGR).
The state is home to an impressive roster of professional sports teams including the NHL’s Boston Bruins, NBA’s Boston Celtics, NFL’s New England Patriots, MLB’s Boston Red Sox and MLS’ New England Revolution, all of which boast avid fan bases across the state.
3 things from 1st MA OSB print:
1) No way $DKNG was playing 2nd fiddle to FD on its home turf
2) Very, very impressive per-adult productivity on a day-adjusted basis (more below)
3) Boston = most targeted media market in Mar-23 among major U.S. OSBers, per Pathmatics pic.twitter.com/IWxqEilFXo
— Chris Krafcik (@ckrafcik) April 18, 2023
Massachusetts’ sport-loving population helped put the state ahead of other recently launched markets in the first month post-launch, such as Maryland, where the average handle per adult totalled $153, Ohio, where that figure was $123, and Kansas, where average handle per adult hit $84.
While bonusing spend is not reported by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, EKG estimates that DraftKings accounted for the majority of bonus spending, “as part of a win-at-all-costs home-field launch.”
According to Legal Sports Report, DraftKings is offering bonuses worth up to $1,200, while Caesars has bonuses worth up to $1,250 available and BetMGM up to $1,000.
Meanwhile, FanDuel is offering customers that bet $5 the chance to receive $150 in bonus bets.
In addition to bonusing efforts, EKG suggested that Boston was the most targeted media market among leading sports betting brands in March. For DraftKings, 27% of its Twitter, Facebook and Instagram ad impressions for the month came from the city.
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No sportsbooks have applied for a Maine online sports betting license, another launch hurdle for what is set to be the nation’s next live legal wagering market.
Though Maine has technically approved mobile sports betting, no sportsbook has applied for a license, according to a Portland Press-Herald report. The lack of sportsbook interest is another factor in what could be the nation’s longest rollout from bill signing to first bet.
Maine Gov. Janet Mills signed her state’s online and retail sports betting bill into law in May 2022. Most of the more than 20 states to approve online sports betting have gone from bill signing to inaugural wager in less than a year. The longest was Maryland at just over 18 months.
There’s no timeline yet for Maine’s launch, but it could plausibly take until early 2024, according to the Press-Hearld report.
The bill pushed by Mills, despite opposition from lawmakers, gave exclusive mobile wagering authorization to the state’s four federally recognized Native American gaming tribes. The legislation allows the tribes to each have one individual license apiece, or two or more tribes can partner together. This means there could be between one and four mobile wagering platforms in the state.
The license limits as well as Maine’s small population are two factors that have likely dissuaded early interest from operators. Maine is also set to have some of the nation’s highest tax rates and most prohibitive advertising restrictions.
DraftKings would seem to be the likeliest company to partner with a tribe and apply for a license. The nation’s No. 2 sportsbook by handle, Boston-based DraftKings agreed to pay a 51% tax rate on gross gaming revenue in neighboring New Hampshire in exchange for a de facto monopoly.
FanDuel, the No. 1 operator by handle and BetMGM (No. 3), seem to be other likely applicants. If no leading national commercial operators pursue a license, one or more tribes may work with a third-party tech company to create a self-branded sports betting platform.
Maine’s 2022 sports betting bill also allows retail sportsbooks at the state’s two brick-and-mortar commercial casinos, which are owned by Penn Entertainment and Churchill Downs, respectively. Penn would presumably open a Barstool Sports-branded in-person book at its property. Churchill Downs has shuttered sports betting on its Twin Spires online platform but could open an on-property retail book.
The state’s off-track betting facilities can also open retail books. No OTB sportsbook platform partners have been announced publicly.
New England market
All six New England states could presumably have live mobile sports betting by next year.
Rhode Island was the first state in the region with legal sports betting, opening the RI Sportsbook in 2019. New Hampshire followed with a DraftKings launch in 2021.
DraftKings as well as FanDuel mobile sportsbooks are live in Connecticut. Rush Street Interactive’s PlaySugarHouse is set to leave the market later this year, though another operator is expected to enter the state.
Massachusetts, which in March became the most recent state in the country to start taking legal mobile bets, has more live sportsbooks than all other New England states combined. DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, Caesars, WynnBet and Barstool are live now with more operators set to follow in the coming year.
Vermont, the only New England state that hasn’t yet approved mobile sports betting, is considering a bill this year.
Fanatics Betting & Gaming has strengthened its C-level suite with the hire of former DoorDash executive Hank Couture as COO.
Couture arrives at Fanatics as the first ever chief operating officer (COO) of the company’s growing Betting & Gaming division.
Couture brings experience from DoorDash, where he was previously VP of US marketplace for the food delivery and takeout disruptor.
Spending seven years at DoorDash, Couture started as the general manager of Chicago before being promoted to director of US marketplace in 2018 and eventually VP.
In his early career, Couture worked in equity derivatives structuring for Goldman Sachs.
Joining a strong senior management team at Fanatics Betting & Gaming, Couture will report to CEO Matt King, the former chief executive of FanDuel.
“Hank’s experience in building one of the largest marketplaces in the US is exactly the type of person we are looking for at Fanatics Betting & Gaming,” said King.
Fanatics Betting & Gaming CEO Matt King: “Hank’s experience in building one of the largest marketplaces in the US is exactly the type of person we are looking for at Fanatics.”
“As our new COO, Hank’s impressive track record of success will provide us with valuable insight as we build a sportsbook that is easy to use, trustworthy, and more rewarding for sports fans,” King added.
Fanatics has made a series of high-profile hires over the last 12 months, as it looks to build out its online gambling division and target the US sports betting market.
Former Goldman Sachs banker Andrea Ellis joined as CFO in October 2022, while ex-MTV marketing chief Jason White was recruited as CMO just one month later.
Sports merchandising giant Fanatics is widely expected to shake up the US OSB hierarchy in the mid- to long-term, due to its competent and proven senior team and strong balance sheet.
However, the operator has been modest in its strategic approach to date, taking a long time to decide on a technology partner before launching officially in January of this year with a retail sportsbook at FedEx Field in Maryland, home of the NFL’s Washington Commanders.
The brand is preparing to go nationwide in mid-2023.
Fanatics – which is aspiring to become a $100bn company under group CEO and founder Michael Rubin – raised $700m in its latest funding round.
After announcing its intention to list shares in the US, David Cook examines the logic behind a dual listing for FanDuel parent Flutter Entertainment.
“We believe an additional US listing of Flutter’s ordinary shares will yield a number of long-term strategic and capital market benefits. We look forward to continued engagement with investors and stakeholders on this matter and we will announce the results of this engagement in due course.”
There can be no doubting Flutter Entertainment’s ambitions at this time.
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Georgia sports betting legalization efforts found new life with an unusual legislative maneuver, but it remains unclear if this last-ditch effort will ultimately lead to regulated wagering.
Georgia lawmakers earlier this month inserted online sports betting legislation into an unrelated soap box derby bill. The maneuver gives legalization hopes new life, but opposition remains from both anti-gambling lawmakers as well as those opposed to the inclusion in an unrelated piece of legislation.
State law requires legislation to pass either the House or Senate by a certain deadline. Two proposals in both the House and Senate failed to reach that deadline this year.
However, proponents revived the sports betting legislation by inserting it into the soap box derby bill, which passed the House by that deadline.
The revised House bill could be heard on the House floor before month’s end. If passed, an identical version would also have to pass the Senate. Gov. Brian Kemp would likely then sign the bill into law.
The current bill would allow the Georgia Lottery to contract with up to 15 mobile sports betting operators while creating a sports betting platform of its own. Eight of those 15 licenses would be delegated to professional sports organizations or facilities to choose a partner while the other seven would not have to affiliate with any team, league or venue.
FanDuel, which has an office in Atlanta, as well as other market leaders including DraftKings and BetMGM would likely look to go live in the state. Caesars operates two casinos in western North Carolina, the nearest gambling facilities to the Atlanta metro area, and would likely also seek a license.
One of the nation’s 10 most populated states and home to several notable pro and college sports programs, Georgia would likely attract a wide range of other interested operators.
If the latest effort passes, Georgia could potentially have legal mobile sports betting before year’s end. Proponents of the current bill have argued mobile sports betting, if put under the lottery’s purview, would not require a constitutional amendment.
The debate over the need for such an amendment has been one factor stalling the bill. Other sports betting proponents have argued that any such gambling expansion requires voter approval. If that scenario were to pass, a statewide ballot measure would be unlikely until November 2024, meaning legal wagering wouldn’t begin until 2025.
Other lawmakers have vehemently opposed sports betting on religious and moral grounds. Conservative, anti-gambling lawmakers in the GOP-controlled legislature remain arguably the largest political stumbling block, despite the support of Kemp, a Republican.
Southern expansion remains slow
Georgia’s difficult sports betting legislative effort mirrors multiple other Southern states, which remain the nation’s region least amenable to such expansion.
Neighboring Alabama has rejected multiple gambling efforts in recent years and seems unlikely to do so. South Carolina lawmakers have introduced several sports betting legalization proposals in recent years but none have gained significant traction.
North Carolina, which allows retail sportsbooks at tribal casinos, has so far not approved mobile wagering, though lawmakers are considering another bill this year. Florida technically approved mobile wagering through the Seminole Tribe’s Hard Rock app, but that move was later disallowed by a federal court.
Mississippi has in-person sports betting at casinos but has failed to approve mobile wagering. Only Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee and Virginia have approved multi-operator mobile sports betting markets.
Missouri lawmakers have again advanced an online sports betting bill with proponents hoping this year will finally see its passage.
The Missouri House “perfected” sports betting legislation Monday, a key step that sets up a formal vote for passage on the House floor. Though that vote was not scheduled as of Tuesday, formal action could come as early as this month.
If passed through the full House, an identical version of the legislation still must pass through the Senate. A similar effort was defeated in the Senate last year due to concerns over the state’s unregulated gaming terminals.
Sports betting proponents have tried for several years to separate the gaming terminal legislation from the sports betting bill. It remains to be seen if Senate video gaming regulation advocates will be willing to let the standalone sports betting legislation pass or will again entangle the two proposals.
Legalizing these machines, which are in hundreds of truck stops, convenience stores and other businesses throughout the state, is opposed by the state’s regulated casino industry. Missouri lawmakers have been unable to reach consensus on regulating, banning or finding another solution for these machines.
Missouri sports betting details
If passed, Missouri could have one of the more robust mobile sports betting markets in the country.
Each of the state’s casinos would be able to partner with multiple operators, potentially allowing more than 30 sportsbooks. Though the proliferation of available licenses – and the current business-friendly 10% tax rate – could entice many leading operators, it appears unlikely Missouri would ever reach that maximum. No state has more than 30 live sportsbooks.
As with nearly every other major market, US leaders DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM and Caesars would be among the likeliest companies to seek licensure. All the aforementioned sportsbooks either have a pre-set market access deal through one of the Missouri casinos or would be virtually guaranteed of finding a partner.
Other brands with Missouri casino ties including Penn Entartainment’s Barstool Sportsbook and Bally Bet would also likely seek licensure. Additional US brands looking to grow their US footholds including bet365, Fanatics and Betr would also be among the likely candidates.
In-state sports teams have been among the leading advocates. Officials from the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs, NHL’s St. Louis Blues and MLB’s St. Louis Cardinals have all publicly testified in favor the proposals. If passed, the state’s major professional sports teams could also partner with one operator apiece.
If passed this spring, legal wagering could begin as early as this fall. Regulators in Kansas, which passed its sports betting bill in spring, worked to launch mobile sports betting before the 2022 NFL season kicked off but it remains too early to tell if Missouri regulators would be able to do the same.
The continued push for legal Missouri sports betting comes as virtually all of its neighbors are already taking bets.
Kansas, which shares the Kansas City metro area with Missouri, started taking bets last September. Missouri lawmakers have continually referenced Kansas’ sports betting legalization as a catalyst for a similar move in the Show Me State, especially after the Chiefs won this year’s Super Bowl.
Illinois, which shares the St. Louis metro area with Missouri, started taking mobile bets in 2020. Missouri’s other neighbors including Tennessee, Iowa and Arkansas also allow mobile bets. Nebraska will open its first in-person sportsbooks as early as this year, while Kentucky and Oklahoma are also considering legalization this year in their respective legislative sessions.