UK bookmakers are currently preparing to take advantage of potential opportunities in the US gaming industry as the Supreme Court draws closer to ruling on legalising sports betting.
William Hill and a number of established companies will be in a commanding position if things go as expected, having the network, industry contacts and logistics to hit the ground running in the bigger US market.
The chief executive of the US branch of major British bookmaker Paddy Power Betfair, Kip Levin, said the time is ripe for the country currently managed by Donald Trump to catch up with the rest of the developed world on the issue.
“This is the closest the US market has come to opening up,” Levin said.
“The sports leagues and the casino industry are behind it, so all the winds are blowing in the right direction.”
William Hill currently operates more than half of the casino sportsbooks in Nevada, where sports betting is legal. It is currently in partnership with Monmouth Park racecourse to start a betting operation in New Jersey.
William Hill is also in talks with potential partners in other states to start betting operations. A former deputy director of the Alderney Gaming Control Commission and a gambling consultant, Darin Oliver, says, that the bookmaker is in a great position.
“Nobody is going to benefit more than William Hill in that market,” Oliver said.
He was of the view that since the US is a federal country, the repeal of PASPA will not necessarily result in a nationwide gambling spree.
“The states still have to pass legislation and that won’t happen immediately. California, one of the biggest markets, is at least a year or more away from allowing it if they even do.”
Paddy Power Betfair is another strong contender in the US gambling industry. The firm currently owns the TVG television network that telecast live horse racing and has 300 US staff. They can use this to their advantage to promote sportsbooks in the US through partnerships with racecourses and casinos.
Ladbrokes and GVC are also set to complete a merger in a $4 billion deal. Even though they have a small presence in the US the merger will help them compete favourably. There are several other deals going on underground.
The English Premier League has offered its complete support to sports betting legalisation in the United States.
This was revealed by Adrian Ford, general manager of Football DataCo, official rights-holder for the Premier League and all professional football leagues in England and Scotland.
Sports betting is only legalized in the state of Nevada in the US. This is largely due to the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), a 1992 federal act which prohibited other US states from engaging in sports betting.
New Jersey is leading other states to challenge PASPA in court and the US Supreme Court is expected to rule on the issue by June.
New Jersey has the backing of the National Basketball Association (NBA), Major League Baseball (MLB), and golf’s PGA Tour to challenge the current status sports betting in the US. In fact, both NBA and MLB have gone ahead to develop regulatory laws that would govern sports betting once it is approved by the Supreme Court.
The NBA and MLB and their supporters however have demands when sports wagering is ultimately legalized in all US states. Some of these demands include:
- Having sports betting operators use official league data
- Share customers data when required
- Pay integrity fee – a percentage of the sports betting revenues
- Enable leagues to determine or control what bet sportsbooks can offer
Accordingly, Ford says Football DataCo supports both NBA and MLB since they are coming up with a regulatory framework that works for all sports betting parties across the states. He added that the Premier League supports integrity fee since this will pan out to benefit the industry in the long run.
“When it comes to customers and integrity and really trying to provide the best experience, official data, backed by the leagues, is fact; you need a gold standard,” Ford said.
“Ultimately, the common goal – and it is easier said than done – must be to have a functioning, regulated, safe betting market that brings all the offshore money onshore for the good of the sport, for the protection of the players and presumably for the good of the states that are going to get tax revenues,” he added.
Paddy Power Betfair, which runs the TVG network, is considering building a new US studio as it awaits a pending case in the Supreme Court on the nation-wide legalisation of sports betting.
This development comes as the landlord of the Paddy Power Betfair headquarters in Los Angeles tries to take some of the company’s vacant offices.
The TVG network is a sports-oriented TV network and the largest horse racing business in America.
A positive Supreme Court ruling will mean sports betting can be allowed throughout America.
Sport betting was banned in 1992, but New Jersey is seeking the repeal of the law in the Supreme Court, terming it as unconstitutional. As it stands now, four states in the US currently allows some form of sports betting.
Nevada is the only US state which fully approves sports books to allow gamers to wage on individual games.
The chief executive officer of Paddy Power Betfair, Kip Levin, plans to devote the new studio to betting on soccer, football, baseball, basketball, and hockey. Levin revealed in a recent interview that all is set for a take-off, given a positive court ruling. He said the program, Morning Line, that supervises the daily odds on horse races can be switched for other coverage.
Some European betting companies are also positioning themselves to take advantage of the US market. The London base William Hill currently has a 30 percent stake in the Nevada sports betting market. The company runs books for casinos like the Hooters Hotel and Binion’s Gambling Hall.
THE PGA Tour has added its voice alongside other major US sporting leagues including the NBA and the MLB in support of regulated sports betting.
Given that there is a federal ban prohibiting sports betting in most US states, the Supreme Court is expected to give a ruling over the ban before its July recess.
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan and several other tournament administrators revealed their reasons for the current stance with sports betting in an interview in USA TODAY this week.
Monahan made it clear that several illegal black markets operate across the country with no one regulation or tax, preying on vulnerable punters and offering no protections. Monahan argued that when betting is unregulated, it leads to the loss of commercial opportunities and an exploitation of players and tournaments. It also leads to a limiting and confining operation for sports activities to the detriment of both the industry and the government.
“If it’s legalized and regulated, you get to a point where you can better ensure the integrity of your competitions,” Monahan said.
“You can provide adequate protection for consumers, which doesn’t exist today. There are commercial opportunities for us, which is one of the things we’re here to do, which is to create and maximize playing and financial opportunities for our players.”
The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 that made state-sponsored sports betting illegal only allows it in four states, with Nevada being the foremost seat for sports gambling in the United States. But that may soon change, said Andy Levinson, PGA Tour senior vice president of tournament administration.
In readiness for a favorable ruling from the Supreme Court, the PGA Tour says it has been partnering with the NBA and MLB to make sports betting work throughout the US. To this extent, the PGA Tour says it has been consulting with sports industry experts, betting regulators, integrity professionals, gambling operators and other players within the gambling industry to make the expected Supreme Court ruling work out well for every stakeholder in the gambling space.
“The point some people will make is that we are now actively supporting legalized gambling. Well, yes, we are,” Monahan said.
“Because we want to protect the integrity of our competitions, protect the consumer, and there are commercial opportunities. And we have a fan-first mentality. We want to grow and diversify our fan base. There are a lot of things we are doing to address that, and this could be another avenue that contributes to that.”
The US Supreme Court will take into consideration a case that could potentially enable sports betting in all fifty states.
If the country’s highest court rules in favour of the legalisation, West Virginia is more than ready.
A bill to enable sports betting in West Virginia has been with the office of the state’s Governor and only needs federal approval to be acted upon. People in the mountain state can start placing bets on college and professional sports if and when the decision is made.
Under the proposed bill, the state can tax licensed bookmakers after all winners are paid out at a rate of at least 10 percent.
Shawn Fluharty, a member of the West Virginian House of Delegates, has been a big supporter of sports betting. He believes the new industry can drive tremendous revenue for the state and help the state attract tourists that want to dabble in a bet, like people do legally all around the globe.
The bills gives all revenue gathered by the state after the first $15 million to the Public Employees Insurance Agency, improving the safety net for thousands of citizens.