JC / Railbird

Boom, Sports Betting Is Here

Anticipated as it was, Monday’s Supreme Court ruling killing the sports betting ban rocked a lot of players across the gaming industry. I wrote something for SB Nation about horse racing and its flashy new legal competition.

If you’re looking for something else to read, I have recommendations — check out the links below for some of the more interesting/informative things I’ve clicked this week about sports betting, racing’s reactions to the ruling, what might happen next in Massachusetts, and opportunities for sports media.


Supreme Court ruling opens door for legalized sports betting

“This decision will have immense implications for the entire sports industry, including the technology sector that will power most of the wagering — and be responsible for preserving the integrity of games.”

Winners, losers of sports betting legalization

The winners: New Jersey, team owners, sports data companies, gambling companies, racetracks, app makers, the betting public, Twitter.

The future of U.S. sports gambling might look like an evening I spent on an English main street

“I already knew Britons tend to bet only while breathing, and that they bet colorfully and comprehensively — and that’s just on golf. I just had never seen a real soccer gambling sheet until Wednesday night, when I set about trying to feel the American future. I entered a William Hill, saw some roulette machines and found a rack of soccer sheets, voluminous and intimidating, pages and pages with wee print on the FA Cup final of May 19 (Manchester United vs. Chelsea), the European Champions League final of May 26 (Liverpool vs. Real Madrid), the World Cup coming in June, and who would score goals, and how many, and when. An entire page concerned halftimes. One could bet on such minutiae as whether a match would have a red card.”

The Supreme Court’s sports gambling decision won’t ruin sports because any damage is already done

“As for a dystopian future of sports watching, that probably shouldn’t bother anyone, either: That future is already here. Professional sports teams have been catering towards in-stadium fan experience for years, as opposed to building stadiums or arenas that can stuff in the most people possible to watch a game.”

Here’s how NFL will embrace and cash in on sports gambling

“Monday’s decision will offer plenty. Not just through a traditional cut of gambling profits, which is sure to be sought by the NFL. There will be other streams of cash, too. Whether it’s through higher television ratings from coast to coast, new waves of advertising partners, or more complex and lucrative deals with media partners, the equation laid out is fairly simple. A wider national gambling platform means more eyeballs. More eyeballs means more customers. And more customers means the same thing it has always meant: A bloated cash register.”

The Supreme Court made it easier for more people to place bad bets

“Casinos kept just 2.81 percent of the sports wagers they handled in 1992. But over the next 15 years, casinos set the betting lines in a way to entice lower-information bettors,3 and their win rates soared well above the standard service-fee rate, peaking at a whopping 7.89 percent in 2006. Casinos are still winning in the 4- to 5-percent range over the past decade, with the house taking 5.11 percent of all wagers in 2017.”


Supreme Court opens door for added sports gambling

“On Monday the National Thoroughbred Racing Association said horse racing needs to be prepared for both new opportunities and new competition.”

Euphoria, uncertainty for racing as sports betting era dawns

“The landmark May 14 ruling is generally viewed as favorable within the U.S. horse racing industry because racetracks–at least at first–are viewed as likely to land some of the initial sports betting licenses under the logic that they are already regulated entities set up for the purpose of taking bets. In some states, legislation is already being crafted that will give racing interests a cut of the revenue from sports betting, similar to the way some casino gaming subsidizes purses. But the initial rush of euphoria within the Thoroughbred industry must be tempered by the daunting reality that numerous other non-racing entities will also want in on the lucrative action.”

Can legalized sports betting boost horse racing?

“If you look at other markets where [horse] racing is growing — and I think Australia is probably the best example — horse racing in Australia 10 years ago was in a multiyear decline,” [TVG CEO Kip] Levin said. “It was similar to the U.S. in that it was pari-mutuel only. And when online sports betting started to take off, you saw a shift.”

View from the eighth pole: Who wins from sports betting?

“We woke up in a different world today. Yesterday, outside of the state of Nevada, the only legal ‘sports’ betting in the United States was on horse racing. Today, or more realistically in the coming months and years, Americans will be able to bet on baseball, basketball, football and hockey, among other sports. They’ll be able to bet on the next pitch, the next touchdown. And this helps racing how exactly?”

Sports betting provides plenty of upside for racing

McKinsey & Company analysis: “While all forms of gaming ultimately compete for shares of the wagering wallet, we believe the cannibalization threat from legal sports betting is limited.”

Sports betting brings massive opportunity to horse racing

“Las Vegas-style sports wagering will offer a challenge for horse racing in all jurisdictions and it’s one that needs to be met aggressively and intelligently so that the sport can benefit from the billions of dollars that will be tossed into legal wagering pools in the years to come. It’s a time when horse racing cannot afford to passively watch from sidelines. It has to have a seat at the table when laws are enacted in the various states so that it can protect its interests and become a vital part of a new era in gambling, instead of finding itself overwhelmed by the new form of competition.”

Sports betting will likely not be a positive for horse racing

“Sports betting’s passage has not guaranteed even one dollar to horse racing.”

Horse-racing channel ready at gate for legal U.S. sports betting

Bloomberg piece about TVG from before the Supreme Court ruling.

Churchill Downs Inc.’s long road to New Jersey

“The anticipated start of New Jersey operations for CDI is first quarter 2019. It has been a long road to New Jersey for Churchill — at least six years.”

Could sports betting boost the action at horse racing tracks?

The view from Stronach (and California): “We would pursue [a sports book] at every one of our racetracks,” said Tim Ritvo.

California sports betting bill unlikely for November ballot

“The Supreme Court decision will be the subject of a closed-door meeting Wednesday involving representatives of racetracks, horsemen’s groups, and attorneys ‘to discuss what is in the best interest of racing,’ according to [CHRB chairman Chuck] Winner.”


Here’s what the sports gambling ruling means for Massachusetts

“Currently, Massachusetts lawmakers have not acted on a proposal to study sports betting, and it’s not clear whether any actions on the measure will come before this year’s session winds down. Until lawmakers act, we won’t know what the prospects are for legalization — including what the games would look like, where you could play, and what companies will be able to offer games here.”

Legal sports betting: Here’s how it could happen, and happen fast

“The local legal market could get pretty big. Massachusetts is home to rabid sports fans and top-tier teams, as well as two resort casinos expected to open this year and in 2019, and a slots parlor …”

All bets are on

“Those running the state’s new casino industry, shockingly, think their facilities are best suited to handle any sports wagering that comes online. But how can you look past the most experienced hands, asks Chip Tuttle, chief operating officer at largely moribund Suffolk Downs, which still does a healthy business in off-track bets. Suffolk Downs is already in ‘the legal betting business’ and would be ‘ready to go as soon as, if not ahead of, a lot of the other wagering businesses in the state,’ Tuttle said. Then there are the sports fantasy sites like DraftKings, which certainly don’t want to be left at the gate. In the spirit offered by Loveman, they are all ready to be of humble service.”

If it’s legalized in Massachusetts, sports betting could take many forms

Players vying for a piece: Sports teams, casino license holders, racetracks and simulcast parlors (Suffolk Downs), daily fantasy sports companies.

Making book on Beacon Hill

“I have spoken, in particular, with my Senate co-chair about an approach to how we might look at this and I’ve had conversations with the speaker as well,” [Representative Joseph] Wagner said. “It’s something we need to do a deep dive on and we need to do it expeditiously. Other states will move quickly on this and I think the challenge will be to be quick out of the gate in an effort to look at this in a comprehensive way, but not so quickly that we do something and don’t get it right.”

As others race ahead with sports betting, DeLeo blows the whistle

“I think there’s a couple of questions I think that really have to be decided beforehand. I think right off the bat you have the question of integrity,” House Speaker Robert DeLeo said. “Secondly, also, is the issue of revenue. What’s going to happen in terms of the states around us, the other states in the country and whatnot.”

White paper on sports betting

The report issued by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission in March 2018.


Congratulations, sports media: You just got a big business-model subsidy from the Supreme Court

“An awful lot of sports reporting is about to move from entertainment information — stuff you read because you enjoy it — to production information — stuff you read because you think it’ll help you make money. Whatever your thoughts on gambling — I tend to come down on the side that it’s a giant vacuum sucking money out of the wallets of middle- and working-class Americans, ruining a lot of lives in the process, but hey, that’s just me — the opportunity for sports journalism is clear.”

Sports betting could soon be legalized: Media companies can’t wait

“Media companies have heard versions of this before. But now several of them are optimistic that legalized gambling could be a thing, for real. And they are mulling ways to take advantage. As Time Inc.’s Sports Illustrated talks to prospective buyers, for instance, it is telling them it could put betting advice and other info aimed at gamblers into a digital subscription package that could eventually generate a substantial minority of the title’s revenues … it’s easy to imagine a mobile prompt from Turner’s Bleacher Report that doesn’t just tell you that the Celtics-Sixers game has gotten interesting in the fourth quarter, but asks if you want to place a bet.”


Sports Betting and Bookmaking: An American History

Arne Lang’s history of sports betting in America thoroughly covers the state of play right up to 2015. “This excellent look at ‘America’s love/hate affair with sports gambling’ delivers fascinating insights,” said Publishers Weekly.