888 Purchases Remaining Stake in All American Poker Network

Renowned online gambling operator, 888 Holdings has recently announced its acquisition of the remaining 53 percent shares in All American Poker Network (AAPN) as part of its plans to cement its business in the United States’ gambling market. The $28 million acquisition will give 888 Holdings the right footing as well as independent control of its growth strategy in the country from here on out. Some of the strategies that the operator’s management has in mind include the inking of new partnership agreements and expansion to other states by deploying its proprietary products and technology.

888 Holdings set up the All American Poker Network in 2013 as part of a joint venture with Avenue OLG Entertainment LLC – this joint venture was intended to help 888 to launch its online gambling brands in New Jersey’s interactive gaming market which was just beginning to launch at the time. The venture did pay off with the operator being able to launch its 888poker and 888casino brands later that year. As such, it is safe to say that the AAPN venture has been a pretty successful endeavor in the for both Avenue OLG Entertainment LLG and 888 Holdings – it afforded the latter the flexibility and financial capability required to build its position in the regulated United States market over the last five years. If further allowed 888 to invest in other global regulated markets.

888 currently has robust online poker presences in all the three US states where the activity is currently fully regulated, that is, Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey. As it stands, the operator is expecting to also go live with its operation in Pennsylvania in the first quarter of 2019 under its partnership with Mount Airy Casino. The Pennsylvanian gaming market is one of the largest in the country and the launch of a regulated gaming market in the state will certainly play a monumental role in various endeavors that are meant to take advantage of the new and expanding gambling landscape in the country.

Sights Set on Sports Betting

Online poker aside, 888 Holdings has also been very keen on expanding and cementing itself in the United States sports betting market which has been rapidly taking shape since the mid-May Supreme Court ruling that abolished PASPA and struck down the federal ban on sports betting. Already, eight states have launched their sports betting industries since the ruling and this a great opportunity for the operator. 888 Holdings’ first ever venture into the sports betting market came in the form of the launch of its sports gambling brand in New Jersey in September 2018.

In addition to this, the company also recently signed a sponsorship agreement with the New York Jets – this is the very first partnership between an online gambling company and an NFL franchise.

Penn National Proposes $111 Million Casino for Berks County

Penn National Gaming Inc. has been very busy in the past couple of months inking partnerships and filing license applications in a bid to extend its services far beyond what it is currently able to offer. The operator is already quite a big deal especially in Pennsylvania where the gambling market has just been rejuvenated thanks to the entry of new gambling-friendly laws. For instance, just last week, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board approved a two-day testing period for sports betting at Hollywood Casino in Penn National Race Course, Penn National Gaming Inc.’s very gem in the Keystone State.

The testing period which was managed by William Hill US, which is arguably the largest sports betting operator in the US, went quite well and the state regulator concluded by giving Hollywood Casino the go-ahead to proceed with the official launch of its sportsbook.

Barely a week after the debut of its sports betting operation in the Commonwealth, Penn National has made yet another move that is aimed at solidifying its already strong grasp of the state’s gambling market. This development comes through the casino’s proposal to build its “Hollywood Casino Morgantown” in Caernarvon Township, Berks County.

The Details

On October 31, the operator filed an application with the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board for Hollywood Casino Morgantown, which is to be its second mini-casino or satellite gaming facility. This particular application, according to the spokesman of the gaming control board is still under review and the process will move forward ones it is ascertained to be complete.

In its latest proposal, Penn National Gaming hopes to get approved to build a $111 million property on a 36-acre site. If this does go through, the operation would bring over 500 jobs to the area particularly to individuals who will be attending to the 750 slots machines, 30 table games, an entertainment lounge, a food court, and the restaurant that it will be hosting.

The proposal suggests that other than the 250 new local jobs and the 275 construction jobs that the operation will offer, the area local authorities will have something to gain as well – the township will be receiving two percent gross tax revenue on the mini casino’s slots machines and one percent of the revenue that Penn National gaming will be accruing from the area.

As it stands, it could be several weeks before the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board completes its review of Penn National’s satellite casino proposal. Even before the proposal is posted on the state regulator’s report, it a local impact report would have to be filed – the board will be conducting a discrete background check through the Bureau of investigations and enforcement. In addition to this, the would need to be a public hearing in the township so as to allow the residents to express their thoughts on the satellite casino project.

Not Everyone Is Amused by MGM/NY Jets’ Gaming Partnership

About a fortnight ago, MGM Resorts International and the New York Jets announced that they had just entered into a multi-year partnership agreement. This makes the Las Vegas-based casino operator the official gaming partner of the New York Jets, a gaming partnership that is arguably the most comprehensive one in the National Football League (NFL).

As per the terms of the gaming partnership, the fans of the New York Jets will have access to an associated MGM mobile apps as well as special hospitality opportunities and rewards (specifically for season ticket holders). MGM, on the other hand, is to be granted access to the Jets 360 production studio and will also get to enjoy many other sponsorship and advertising perks.

“We could not be more excited to join with the New York Jets for a first-of-its-kind partnership in the NFL. We look forward to working with the Jets to innovate gaming, increase our customer base through cross-marketing opportunities and provide NFL fans with a one-of-a-kind entertainment experience,” MGM Resorts Chairman & CEO Jim Murren said in a release.

The announcement of the partnership deal with the New York Jets follows shortly from MGM’s sports betting partnership agreement with the NHL which is very similar to the operator’s partnerships with other leagues including the NBA and the WNBA.

Unfortunately for MGM, while it is definitely the opportune time to take advantage of the May U.S. Supreme Court ruling that lifted the federal ban on sports betting, there is so much more that the casino operator has to deal with first. There has been a significant amount of backlash especially with regards to its partnership with the Jets.

Criticism Is in The Air

Critics literally took to their air to express how displeased they were about MGM’s activities – before the New York Jets’ game against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, an airplane carrying a banner criticizing the team’s partnership with MGM circled the MetLife Stadium multiple times.

The banner which read “SHAME ON JETS/MGM #ENDGUNVIOLENCE #STOPMGM” was referring to, among other things, the move by MGM to sue over 1,900 victims of a mass shooting in July to avoid liability for the fatality which occurred at its Mandalay Bay casino-resort in October last year.

“We wholeheartedly agree that our country needs to put an end to gun violence,” MGM Resorts International said in a statement to The Associated Press.

According to MGM, the lawsuits were meant to avoid the years of costly litigation and only targeted people who have threatened to sue or sued the company and voluntarily dismissed its claims.

Indiana Lawmakers Propose Legalization of Sports Betting

Huge changes seem to be headed to Indiana’s gaming industry – it is possible that next year, we could finally have legalized sports betting in the state. This follows from last Friday’s summer study committee where the Hozier State’s lawmakers unanimously voted to recommend the legalization of sports wagering during the next legislative session. It has been about 5 months since the United States Supreme Court repelled PASPA and lifted the federal ban on sports betting but it is certainly not too late for Indiana to join the party.

The issue which was brought up by State Rep. Alan Morrison, a Republican with Brazilian descent, during the summer study committee. Mr. Morrison wants the state’s casinos to be able to offer “what they can”, especially when it comes to sports betting, something that he believes will keep them competitive. The lawmaker has been working on legislation aimed at legalizing sports betting, which will encompass both online and mobile betting.

The committee also went on to discuss possible security considerations for sports betting, most of which revolved around the registration of persons in online casinos with multiple forms of identification documents. This is to prevent both identity theft for gambling purposes as well as underage gambling, the latter being one of the most pressing concerns in the country’s gambling industry. In addition to these, the issue of problem gambling was also brought up with the Indiana Council on Problem Gambling saying that they are neutral is as far as the legalization of sports betting is concerned, but not failing to express concerns that problem gambling will eventually crop up.

Christina Gray, the Indiana Council on Problem Gambling’s executive director hopes that the lawmakers will consider the inclusion of resources to deal with the organization’s concerns. One of these would be the channeling of a percentage (1 percent, according to Gray) of the gaming tax revenue to the prevention and treatment of gambling addiction.

$466 Million in Economic Impact

According to report that has recently been released by, Eilers and Krejcik Gaming, a gambling research firm, legal sports betting in the state could generate up to a whopping $466 million within the first five years of the industry’s launch. The firm’s involvement is somewhat more proof that the state is very serious about the legalization of sports books – it was enlisted by the Indian Gaming Commission earlier this year and tasked with compiling a comprehensive report on the impact that the legalization of sports betting would have on the state.

The report revealed that, if legalized, the retail and mobile sports betting industries could bring in up to $56.2 million in direct economic impact within the first year. In five years, the number is projected to rise to $256 million in direct economic impact. Also included in the firm’s report is a revelation that mobile sports betting might take the center stage and become the main driver of Indiana’s betting market.

Eilers and Krejcik’s report’s recommendation was that the state should legalize sports betting as soon as next year during the next legislative session. Apparently, the risks of delaying the process might be too high for the state to bear – these include increased competition from other states, economic loss as well as further growth of the sports betting black market.

Highlights of the September 27 Sports Betting Hearing

Last Thursday while the Senate dealt with the highly controversial US Supreme Court Hearings, a subcommittee of the US House known as the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigation hosted a sports betting hearing. The hearing that was officially recognized as “Post-PASPA: An Examination of Sports Betting in America” is the first hearing of its kind since the landmark Supreme Court ruling that lifted the federal ban on sports betting.

The hearing involved testimonies from representatives of both sides of the divide including:

  • Sara Slane, senior vice president, public affairs, American Gaming Association
  • Becky Harris, chair, Nevada Gaming Control Board
  • Jocelyn Moore, executive vice president, communications and public affairs, National Football League
  • Jon Bruning, counselor, Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling (CSIG)
  • Les Bernal, national director, Stop Predatory Gambling

The hearing which lasted 90 minutes mostly involved debates about where sports betting regulations need to come from – with the federal government or the states? Even though most of what was discussed was not surprising, to say the least, the questions that some of the committee members, who were for the most part opposed to the idea of any form of gambling, were asking. Some of the lawmakers in the committee as well as some of the witnessed painted a picture of a sports betting and gambling industry that was full of miscreants, thugs, degenerates and scammers, ideas that are certainly not true.

NFL Goes at Sports Betting, Again

The National Football League (NFL) was a major proponent of PASPA and the last thing league officials expected to happen was for the United States Supreme Court to repeal it – it joined all the other major sports leagues and the NCAA to fight New Jersey’s bid to be allowed to offer sports betting within its borders.

“Sports gambling conducted pursuant to State law threatens the integrity and character of, and public confidence in, professional and amateur sports, instills inappropriate values in the Nation’s youth, misappropriates the goodwill and popularity of professional and amateur sports organizations, and dilutes and tarnishes the service marks of such organizations,” Jocelyn Moore said quoting a section of the now-obsolete PASPA.

While the NFL is not hellbent in having the ruling reversed, it encouraged the committee to “create a modern framework” for the purpose of protecting the fans and the integrity of the game. Considering how many times the word “integrity” was used in the NFL’s testimony it would be safe to say that NFL seems to be intent on securing a piece of the sports betting market that is already proving to be very lucrative.

Thankfully, the American Gaming Association’s (AGA) officials were present to clarify the reality of the matter which is that the sports betting market is fine as it in the hands of state governments and there is no additional oversight needed.

Mississippi Casino Revenue Spikes with Sports Betting Debut

According to the Mississippi state revenue department, the state’s overall casino revenue rose sharply in August with the debut of sports betting – figures released by the department show that gamblers lost a whopping $181 million across the state last August, an 8 percent increase from the $168 million that was recorded during the same period a year ago.

Only $645,000 of the revenue was lost on sports wagers, though, with a total $7.7 million wagered on sporting activities in the first month of legalized sports betting in the state. Licensed operators in the state took a total of $6.3 million in sports bets, a figure that is expected to increase significantly as more sport betting industries launch in the United States. The handle corresponds to about $644,000 in revenue for the casino and about $77,000 in tax income for the state.

Baseball Takes the Lead

As it turns out, the most popular sport as far as sports betting revenue is concerned was baseball whose wager clocked in at around $3.3 million bets for the month of August. It was followed by American football which brought in $1.3 million and $1.4 million in parlay betting.

The figures for September are anticipated to be even bigger as the football season goes full swing – Mississippi Gaming Commission Deputy Director Jay McDaniel reveals that through September 19 gamblers had already wagered $17.8 million implying that the total amount that will be wagered this month will fall somewhere between $35 million and $30 million.

Casino executives and regulators in the state are optimistic about sports betting being a good thing in terms of their income projections. They hope that more money will be lost on their casino games and more gamblers will be staying at their casino hotels and eating at their restaurants. Over the long term, the officials expect that the casinos will be able to win at least 6 percent to 7 percent of what is wagered.

Good News for Operators

As it stands, several well-known gambling companies currently offer sports betting in Mississippi but the first operator to go live with a sports betting offering when it was legalized on August 1 was MGM. The other companies such as Caesars Entertainment did not launch their sports betting services until later that month – Caesars chose to partner with SBTech for its sports betting operation. SBTech just launched earlier this month while William Hill just received its licenses and will be going live with Eldorado to cover the Mississippi sports betting market.

NFL Could Make Up to $2.3B Annually from Sports Betting

After the United States Supreme Court lifted the federal ban on sports betting in May, professional sports leagues in the country have been working hard to put protective measures in place. Most of the leagues initially distanced and, in some cases, even opposed it but on realizing the inevitability of its regulation, they had a change of heart. This all began through lobbying for the so-called controversial “integrity fee” that has not sat well with many of the state’s where sports betting is to be launched.

Since the attempts to have their “integrity fee” have turned out to be fruitless, the leagues have since adopted separate approaches, all meant to ensure that they are able to protect their own interests – for instance, the NBA and MLB are still fighting for the integrity fee but the NFL has opted to issue its own set of guidelines.

The NFL’s guidelines included provisions to protect its intellectual property – this will require the sports betting operators to pay licensing fees in order to be allowed access to valuable league data. According to a Nielsen Sports report that was commissioned by the American Gaming Association, if the NFL’s gets its way, it is projected to make up to $2.3 million annually from sports betting activities.

It’s All Fan-Driven

Nielsen Sports’ projections of the NFL’s annual revenue are based on a survey of football and sports betting fans. It is also worth noting that some assumptions were made. For instance, the survey assumed that regulated sports betting across the United States will boost media rights fees due to increased interest in the league’s games, sponsorships by sports betting operator and the purchasing of official league data. Also, the report factored out the integrity fee perhaps because of the uncertainty of its future.

“Legal, regulated sports betting will create huge new revenue opportunities for sports leagues – and the NFL could be the biggest winner of all,” said Sara Slane, the senior vice president of public affairs for the American Gaming Association. “Once legal sports betting expands across the country, the NFL could take in more than $2 billion a year, reinforcing how much sports leagues stand to gain from increased viewership and private partnerships with sports betting operators.”

The Nielsen Sports report states that greater fan engagement and viewership will significantly boost the NFL’s total annual revenue by 13.4 percent which will amount to $1.75 billion in new revenue from increased consumption of the NFL’s products.

Legalized sports betting in various states across the country will help the NFL to generate an additional $573 million in revenue – this will be from the sale of league data to data providers and sports betting operators. In addition to this, the projections also stated that the sports betting operators may spend close to $450 million on advertising and this will directly boost the league’s rights fees by the same amount. Finally, an additional $92 million in sponsorship revenue and $30 million data is projected for the both the NFL and its teams.

FanDuel, William Hill Launch Mobile Sports Betting in NJ

The football season is getting closer and the New Jersey mobile sports betting market has gotten big enough for more offerings to take advantage it. Some of the biggest developments in this regard include moves by fantasy sports titan FanDuel and American affiliate of British bookmaker, William Hill to begin offering mobile sports betting last Saturday, marking yet another milestone for the state’s rapidly growing gambling industry.

The entry of the two operators into the sports betting market brings the number of companies offering similar betting products in New Jersey to five. Others operators who have already established offerings for the sports betting market include Draft Kings, Borgata Casino and PlaySugarHouse.com. Borgata was the first casino in New Jersey to offer sports betting in June and it has since been joined by the Bally’s Resorts, Ocean Resort, Golden Nugget and Harrah’s.

William Hill’s Subtle Entry

While FanDuel’s mobile sports betting offering in New Jersey was expected William Hill’s sports betting app was snuck into the New Jersey sports betting market at about the same time. The announcement itself was quite subtle – an email was sent to a rather small group of customers for this soft-launch period. At the moment, the sports product can only be accessed on Android online with the iOS app set to follow soon.

FanDuel’s Sportsbook

At first glance, the Fanduel Sportsbook is a polished and market-ready product that will certainly have no problem competing in New Jersey’s gambling space. The platform was developed entirely in-house but the operator has also gone further to borrow resources from Paddy Power Betfair, its new owner – Paddy Power Betfair acquired FanDuel last summer for a nine-figure amount.

“We’re partnered with one of the most respected brands in Europe, if not the most respected. That gives us a lot of operational [advantages] — whether it is efficient pricing, whether it is the breadth of markets, it gives us more credibility in the space,” Head of Product Nik Bonaddio commented. “Paddy Power has a world-class trading team behind it. If you look at the margins that Paddy Power has, the revenue they do on a lesser scale means that their trading department is as good as it gets. All of this runs off the same platforms that Paddy Power itself runs off of. You will see us having, if not the most efficient lines, among them.”

FanDuel has adopted a more conservative approach to the sports and contents that it books online and on mobile.

“If there’s even any chance of someone thinking an event might be fixed,” Bonaddio said, “we’re probably going to stay away from it. We’ll sacrifice some volume to ensure the consumer protections are there.”

Three Pennsylvanian Casinos Win Online Gambling Licenses

Last Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB), announced that it had approved the online gambling licenses to three of the casinos that had applied for them a short while back. The three operators that were awarded Interactive Gaming Certificates by the PGCB are Chester Downs and Marina LLC, operator of Harrah’s Philadelphia, as well as Parx Casino operator Greenwood Gaming & Entertainment Inc. and Mount Airy #1 LLC, operator of the Mount Airy Resort Casino.

All three casinos will now be able to offer online poker, online slot machines, as well as online table games and they are already preparing for these. Mount Airy, for instance, has already partnered with PokerStars in a bid to strengthen its poker presence in the state – the casino also happens to have a deal that dates back to 2015 with 888 still in place.

Parx, on the other hand, has inked a partnership deal with GAN, while Harrah’s is anticipated to forge a partnership deal with 888 since Caesars, its parent company, has deals with 888 in New Jersey – where it also recently launched sports betting –  and Nevada with WSOP.com. Both 888 and Caesar will certainly be looking to grow their interstate poker network and their best shot at doing this is by keeping the ball rolling as they venture into the Keystone State’s online gambling market.

“Once it’s up and running, anyone can establish an account online,” PGCB spokesman Doug Harbach commented. “They can do it in the casino, but they can also establish an account online and they can participate in any casino game – table games, slots and even peer-to-peer poker.”

Once the games go live, the services will only be available to those 21 years or older residing within the state’s boundaries. Still, no official date has been set for the launch of online gambling in Pennsylvania. Hopefully, this will be addressed during the next PGCB meetings.

Penn National Becomes the First to Apply for Sports Betting License

Pennsylvania’s gaming community also received some more exciting news after Penn National, the owners of Hollywood Casino announced that they had applied for the $10 million sports betting license and would be partnering with William Hill US for the venture.

“Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course today formally applied for a license to conduct sports wagering at our facility. We believe this will provide us another attractive amenity at Hollywood Casino, in addition to our full suite of the latest slot machines, table games, multiple dining outlets, exciting live racing and soon to be online gaming offerings. Our plan is to locate our sports book in a newly renovated simulcast theater area at Hollywood Casino and the operations will be managed by William Hill US, the largest sports betting operator in the United States. Operations are expected to begin later this Fall upon final approval by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board,” Penn National Vice President Fred Lipkin elaborated.

More of the state’s casinos are expected to follow suit in the coming weeks or even days.

Buffalo Wild Wings Eyeing Offering Sports Betting Services

Renowned U.S. sports bar chain Buffalo Wild Wings is reportedly eyeing a foray into the sports betting business as part of its efforts to enhance the restaurant business for its customers. According to sources close to the company, the sports betting plan will be in conjunction with sports betting and daily fantasy sports company DraftKings – the two are very close to inking a marketing deal. This is intended to make use of the opportunity that was presented after the U.S. Supreme Court made a ruling that lifted the federal ban on sports betting in May.

Buffalo Wild Wings owns 1,700 bars across the United States including places where sports fans residing in suburban cities usually hang out to watch the biggest league games like the NFL. Sports betting at these facilities might seem like one of the more unlikely scenarios but it is actually based on some rather compelling factors such as the aforementioned infrastructure – they already have the facilities and the market. These facilities are further spread out across all the 50 states

Speaking to ESPN’s David Purdum, the restaurant chain’s officials confirmed that as far as their interest in sports betting goes they are already “actively exploring opportunities, including potential partners, as we evaluate the next steps for our brand.”

“As the largest sports bar in America, we believe Buffalo Wild Wings is uniquely positioned to leverage sports gaming to enhance the restaurant experience for our guests,” a Buffalo Wild Wings official pointed out.

New Revenue Stream

Founded in 1982, Buffalo Wild Wings has enjoyed tremendous levels of success through the decades but as it stands, it is in need of new revenue streams since millennials prefer to have their food delivered instead of going to the restaurants. In fact, the low number of customers who visit the restaurants has already dealt a blow to its alcohol sales, according to recent reports.

The restaurant chain therefore certainly needs a new way to attract customers – it has been struggling for quite some time with slumping sales and an extended battle between an activist investor and its executives. This battle quelled down only after it was acquired by Arby’s parent company, Roark Capital.

“I think that if you look back when Buffalo Wild Wings was really, really, really successful, it was really the only one out there doing what it was doing,” Paul Brown, the former CEO said about plans to find new ways to renovate the chain. “We had a nationalized local sports bar, and then more competition has come in, and I think that some of that competition has been a little bit more innovative… I think there’s an opportunity to figure out the 21st-century incarnation of what made it so successful during particularly the early 2000s.”

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