A look at the latest online sportsbooks launching in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, plus update from Michigan, D.C.
Since the 2018 Supreme Court repeal of the PASPA law, each U.S. state can determine whether or not to allow sports betting in their state. In only two years, seventeen states have joined Nevada in legalizing sportsbooks.
Just this year, another four states (Washington, Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia) passed bills that are currently being implemented to allow sportsbooks to open. However, another 25 states have failed to enter the booming industry. Bills introduced that would legalize and regulate were overturned by popular vote or within the state legislature.
Still, this doesn’t mean these 25 states won’t reintroduce successful bills in the future. As other states provide templates for success, like New Jersey and Pennsylvania, it’s likely that more will join the betting boom in the coming years.
The rapid evolution of the U.S. sports betting market
At the moment, there seems to be a regional trend. States that turned down bills to regulate sportsbooks are largely located in the American South and Midwest. Given the popularity of collegiate and professional sports leagues in both regions, the impetus to legalize and earn tax revenue from healthy sports industries will become more pressing.
One key consideration for states legalizing the industry is whether or not to legalize both in-person and online betting. Delaware, for example, is one of a few states to allow in-person sports betting without an online counterpart. It provides a strong example for other states in determining their own autonomy. In addition to online sportsbooks, the state also prohibits betting on in-state college teams.
Still, the overwhelming majority of sportsbooks are looking to move online. Most oddsmakers already have their own online platforms, as U.S. sports fans who are new to betting may opt for a comparison-friendly site.
Pages that offer easy-to-read grids with odds from a variety of sportsbooks simplify the process of comparing and choosing odds and deals. Whether looking to wager on PGA Tour futures or find NFL picks from dedicated experts, fans can get familiar with various sportsbooks in one place—no matter where they’re located.
Sites are also popular because they provide beginners a few basic guidelines. Considering the vast majority of U.S. sports fans are new to betting, these features can’t be underestimated. Let’s take a look at the year’s biggest sportsbook openings.
Pennsylvania: Barstool Sports with Hollywood Casino
Pennsylvania opened its first sportsbook in November of 2018, only months after the Supreme Court repealed PASPA. This quick transition was thanks to previous legislation that defined sports betting regulation, as well as online poker and Daily Fantasy Providers.
Most recently, Hollywood Casino partnered with Barstool Sports in mid-September. Hollywood Casino is owned by Penn National Gaming, an online casino operator that’s based in Wyoming, which also bought out Barstool Sports in 2018.
Barstool Sports is aimed at people in their 20s and 30s and was released just in time to accept bets on the NFL regular season. The company is looking to cut into the nearly $41 million pulled in by Valley Forge Casino Resort’s 2019 partnership with FanDuel, a fantasy sports giant. The nearest competitor was Rivers Casino Philadelphia, which drew in nearly $18 million in 2019.
At the moment, Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy is helping to boost the brand by engaging with his 1.8 million Twitter followers. The brand’s emphasis on pop culture will likely go a long way in helping the brand get cozy with 20- and 30-somethings looking to wager on sports.
New Jersey: Freehold Raceway
Anyone following the sports betting boom in the U.S. knows that New Jersey is the poster child for success. Though Pennsylvania isn’t far behind (and didn’t have the Atlantic City boost that New Jersey did), the state continues to surpass its own sports betting revenue records.
In November of 2019, Nevada broke the record with $614 million wagered on sports in a single month. New Jersey broke that record in August of 2020 with $668 million wagered. The state just broke Nevada’s record again with $748 million wagered in September.
Though it’s very possible New Jersey will break the record once again in October of 2020, the state isn’t slowing down its offerings. Most recently, Freehold Raceway opened its in-person sportsbook, with an online counterpart expected to follow before the end of the year.
Though Freehold Raceway has some catching up to do, it’s only the third racing track in the state to open up live wagers. The raceway will be competing with the nine Atlantic City casinos authorized to run online sportsbooks, as well as Monmouth Park, another racing track located in the city of Oceanport
Nationwide 2020 Sportsbook Launches: Washington DC and Michigan
In 2020, legal sports betting began in Illinois, Michigan, Montana, Colorado, and Washington DC. Most notable have been DC’s GamBetDC launch and Detroit, Michigan’s quick start in the industry despite launching beside more populous states like Illinois.
Washington DC’s first foray into sports betting hasn’t gone as planned for the Capitol. A city-owned betting app known as GamBetDC launched in May alongside the city’s only in-person sportsbook at Capital One Arena. GamBetDC was expected to net around $17 million, but only brought in $263,000 in its four-month stretch.
In response, local restaurants and bars have declared an interest in opening their own in-person sportsbooks. It's likely that officials will wait to see how GamBetDC performs in the coming fiscal year before reevaluating.
Meanwhile, west of the Mississippi, Detroit casinos pulled in just under $2 million in August alone—and with only 15% occupancy levels. MGM Grand Detroit, MotorCity Casino, and Greektown Casino took in $15 million in wagers to net the state $2 million in revenue.
At the moment, MGM Grand Detroit owns the lion’s share of the market. Of the August handle, MGM brought in 48% of wagers, while MotorCity handled 34%, and Greektown took 18%. Though Michigan has legalized online and mobile sportsbooks, platforms have yet to launch.
In late September, the Michigan Gaming Control Board held a public hearing online in order to expand its rules for online and mobile markets. Once the control board has heard public input it will provide casinos explicit terms for launching online and mobile platforms.