April’s Industry Recap: Congress Sets Date to Assess Online Gambling and More
The month of April wasn’t quite as intense as March, which saw a big scandal with Amaya gaming, among other interesting gambling story-lines. It still wasn’t dead quiet, either. Let’s reflect on the month that was as we re-hash all of the big industry news and stories that caught our eye:
Congress Getting Legal
Daily fantasy sports and all forms of online gambling will have their day in court, per reports. DFS is already under much legal scrutiny at the moment, but Congress is scheduled to take an even closer look at the DFS realm, sports betting and online gambling in a discussion in May.
Reports emerged in mid-April that the House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade will hold a meeting to discuss the current and future legal statuses of DFS, sports betting and all forms of online gambling. The hearing is set for May 11th.
DFS Gaining Legality Steam
Mississippi is the latest state in the U.S. to fight back for daily fantasy sports, with a recent April ruling going against state attorney general Jim Hood’s opinion that DFS should be considered illegal.
The state follows in the footsteps of Tennessee, who recently pushed DFS Bill 27-2 through the the Governer. Once that bill passes, Tennessee will become the third U.S. state to officially legalize daily fantasy sports. More regulation and guidelines could follow, but it is starting to sound like the wall put up against the DFS community is slowly starting to crumble to the ground.
Bettson AB Gets New CEO
Bettson AB named Ulrik Bengtsson their new CEO earlier in April. Bentsson is set to replace former CEO Pontus Lindwall, who will step back into a seat on the company’s board.
The move comes seemingly at the right time, with Bettson AB enjoying some of its greatest success despite exchange rate impacts. That is expected to make the transition seamless, while Bengtsson shared a strong vision of the future of the company – one that includes strong, continued growth.
Bet365 Gets Stadium Rights
Bet365 became the first official gambling sponsor to nab stadium rights to an English Premier League franchise in April. Per reports, Bet365 parlayed an already solidly standing relationship through a shirt sponsorship into a massive stadium naming rights deal.
Stoke City FC is the lucky partner, lending their stadium name and officially renaming what was formerly the Britannia, Bet365 Stadium. The deal is expected to be good for six years starting later this year.
Michigan Online Gaming Bill
The battle to legalize online poker and other online gaming took another positive step forward in the state of Michigan this past month. Michigan state Senator Mike Kowall initiated SB 889, the “Lawful Internet Gaming Act” in the state Senate in April, with an eye on legalizing and officially regulating online poker and casino games in the state of Michigan.
Kowall admitted making legal, safe avenues for online gaming is one key mission of his plight to promote online gambling, while also pointing to added state revenue and jobs. One thing working in Kowall’s favor is the fact that Michigan is one of just a handful of U.S. states allowing online lottery games, although any actual success with the new bill is expected to take some time.
PGA Tour + Gambling
The PGA Tour wants it’s hand in sports betting. Per Bloomberg, the PGA Tour officially submitted a request for proposals in April to potentially sell in-game date to prospective bookmakers. The PGA has publicly suggested that they submit proposals of all types on a regular basis, and that nothing is necessarily going to happen.
While the news could be nothing, it at the very least suggests the PGA Tour is at least flirting with the idea of taking advantage of sports betting.
SkyCity Loses CEO
Betfair isn’t the only major gambling corporation to be changing CEO’s this past month, as SkyCity will also have a new head honcho calling the shots. Per reports, long-time CEO Nigel Morrison will be stepping down after eight years at the helm.
The departure was said to be mutual for all parties involved, with the process being worked out over the past few months. Morrison had initiated an exit strategy going back as far as September, while he and the company worked together to find the right time to begin the transition.
The company’s current NZ COO, John Mortensen, is slated to fill in Morrison’s old role on an interim basis, while SkyCity fields a long-term replacement.
PaddyPower Betfair Downsizes
PaddyPower Betfair endured major downsizing in both UK and Ireland this past month, as they worked to centralize their corporation and also cut costs.
Per reports, roughly 10% of their 7,200 employees overseas in Ireland and the United Kingdom will be cut loose as the company attempts to save money by eliminating “duplicate” or unnecessary positions.
DFS Loses NCAA Games
Daily fantasy sports has undoubtedly made some strides in the legal field over the past few months, but they did still withstand another bitter hit in April. Per reports, the NCAA has severed its ties with the DFS industry, effectively putting an end to any college DFS games on the leading sites, DraftKings and FanDuel.
There still remains a chance a deal can be worked out down the line, but the NCAA has long been fighting against the right for DK and FD to use their player and team likeness in their games.
It’s a hit for the leading DFS sites in terms of game versatility and maximum earnings, but with college fantasy sports games counting as a rather small sliver of the leading DFS site’s revenue, it is not expected to be a loss that can’t be overcome.
Betfair Launches Exchange Wagering Site
Betfair is expected to launch the United States’ first exchange wagering site in May. The April announcement precludes the official launch date, which is slated for May 10th.
Betfair US obtained America’s first exchange wagering license back in November and plans to conduct research in the near future to promote education on exchange wagering. The immediate goal is to “attract new participants, new customers and new revenue streams”.
Kentucky Gets Online
Kentucky became the fourth state in the U.S. to allow lottery games online. The state launched an online sales offering earlier in April, offering both traditional draw tickets, as well as instant win games.
Kentucky made the move after seeking a way to target and engage with a younger demographic. They join Georgia and Michigan as the only states that offer both draw tickets and instant win games, while Illinois offers only draw tickets.
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