Betting News Roundup: Illinois, New York Updates and more

Jay Dieffenbach

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in a conference call with reporters Monday afternoon, indicated there would be some form of online sports betting legislation in the budget.

“We have a conceptual agreement on all issues,” Cuomo said.

The agreement could open up billions of dollars in wagers for the state projected to generate upwards of $500 million in annual revenues, Cuomo said.

He said the plan would most likely be through a request for proposal process with sportsbook operators to contract with the state. It was not made clear which operators – or how many – would be involved.

“We’ll contract directly with the mobile sports vendor… we’ll contract with them and we’ll make the money. We don’t need the casinos as a middleman,” he said during the conference.

Cuomo also addressed another potential hurdle: agreements with the state’s Oneida Nation.

Cuomo and New York Budget Director Robert Mujica said the bill would include a way to honor the terms of the existing Oneida Nation compacts and would not eliminate the nation or upstate counties from online gambling revenue.

Anxious sports bettors were waiting for firm answers on wagering’s role in the state budget, but will have to wait a little longer.

Friday had inspired some hope when word came that some cooperation was underway.

Cuomo’s office and some in the New York Legislature were working to find common ground on sportsbook operators.

Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr., chair of the New York Senate Racing, Gaming, and Wagering Committee, and Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow were backing a drive for a more competitive model with multiple skins, similar to New Jersey’s overwhelmingly successful operation.

Addabbo Jr. and Pretlow were selected to negotiate terms of mobile sports betting among other issues.

Following weeks of negotiations, Addabbo called negotiations frustrating last Monday.

Under that plan, the landscape would be competitive and could include such operators as FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM and more.

Cuomo has stood behind a single-entity, lottery-run system – similar to Rhode Island’s and New Hampshire’s current systems for online sports betting.

Last Wednesday, Pretlow said mobile sports betting should be included in the budget admitted a few alterations could cause it to appear more like Cuomo’s proposal than what he and Addabbo want.

No more Online Registration in Illinois

Illinois residents ready to jump into the sports-betting waters now have to register in person for all online sports betting because the governor decided against extending a COVID exception.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker had waived the provision of the state’s gambling law that requires in-person sign-ups, but that ended on Sunday.

Though Pritzker did extend his order on some aspects of his statewide order due to the virus, he left out sports betting.

“Illinois is currently in phase four with vaccination rates rapidly increasing and casinos around the state have reopened with safety guidelines in place, so the suspension of in person sports betting registration requirements is no longer needed,” a spokeswoman for the governor said Friday in an email published in the Chicago Sun-Times.

This will slow the momentum in Illinois that has driven almost $1.6 billion in wagers and generated almost $28 million in tax revenue since the state’s first legal bet was placed in March 2020.

Pritzker signed into law the sports betting legislation that included the in-person registration requirement. This was to benefit the state’s 10 brick-and-mortar casinos over online options such as FanDuel and DraftKings.

Still, more than 95% of the money bet was been wagered online.

Iowa also introduced this kind of online sports gambling with the requirement of signing up at retail sportsbooks. But on Jan. 1, 2021, the state removed the in-person requirement.

Illinois will now continue requiring in-person registration until at least the end of the year.

FanDuel, DraftKings, William Hill, Points Bet and BetRivers are the sportbook operators working live in Illinois.

BetMGM Becomes a Part of Audacy

MGM Resorts International’s BetMGM reached a multi-year sports betting deal with Audacy, known for the past 50 years as Entercom.

BetMGM, via this partnership, is now the preferred sports-betting partner of Audacy across all sports broadcast stations, digital platforms, BetQL app as well as BetQL Audio Network.

Following last Tuesday’s news, shares jumped almost 3%, and the company’s stock has risen 75.1% in the past six months compared with the industry’s rally of 35%.

In a Zacks Equity Research story on Yahoo!Finance, Matt Prevost, BetMGM's chief revenue officer, said:

“In Audacy, we've found a long-term strategic partner that shares our goals, enabling us to further amplify BetMGM's reach to sports fans through the most trusted audio personalities and sports betting data and analytics platform in their respective markets today.”

Fans who tune in to Audacy's portfolio of stations, podcasts and shows can access to BetMGM's sports betting content. BetMGM also is now to receive preferred access to Audacy talent.

BetMGM launched in 2018, is available in 10 states with an eye toward increasing that to 20 by the end of the year – meaning access to almost 40% of the U.S.

In the Zacks story, market share was a prominent talking point.

BetMGM continues to gain market share. In fourth-quarter 2020, BetMGM market share was 17% in its retail and online markets. BetMGM registered 138,000 new customers between December and January. BetMGM delivered robust results in two of its newest markets, Colorado and Tennessee. In fourth-quarter 2020, BetMGM market share in Colorado and Tennessee were 31% and 34%, respectively.

With the rebranding, Audacy has retired the Radio.com name for its direct-to-consumer platform. The company’s new website is audacyinc.com.

“The name Entercom no longer fit. We’ve outgrown it,” David Field, chairman, president and CEO, said in an interview reported in Variety.

In 2017, Entercom acquired CBS Radio, establishing it as the No. 2 radio broadcaster (after iHeartMedia) and giving it the Radio.com digital audio platform. Last fall, Entercom acquired QL Gaming Group (including sports-betting app BetQL) and struck a six-year deal making FanDuel its official sportsbook partner.

“We have purposefully transformed the company over the last few years,” said Field, who has served as CEO since 2002.

According to Variety, Audacy will “continue to release exclusive content available only on the Audacy app, including new digital programs by Boomer Esiason and radio personality Big Tigger, as well as new digital stations created by Audacy’s music curators and personalities.”

Audacy reports an audience reach of 170 million consumers monthly across its app, website, podcasts, live music events, and 235 broadcast stations in 47 markets.

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