The Betting News Roundup: Tennessee’s Trouble to Progress in the Northeast

Jay Dieffenbach

The Tennessee Education Lottery last Wednesday reported two of the state’s four regulated online sportsbooks saw “illegal” betting activity on the Feb. 7 Super Bowl.

At a meeting of its board of directors, according to a TNbets.com story, the lottery cited “significant anomalies” with two operators, which the lottery did not identify.

According to David Purdum via Twitter, BetMGM confirmed its innocence, DraftKings and FanDuel declined comment and Bet247 referred inquiries on the topic to the lottery.

As a result of the activity, a total of 74 sports wagering accounts were permanently closed. The lottery said “several” open Super Bowl bets were voided as part of the ongoing investigation.

According to media reports, the four books handled a combined $15.5 million on the game, paying out $12.6 million in winning bets.

Through January, the books handled $523 million in wagers since the Nov. 1 launch, the lottery said.

The state’s four operators may soon have company, too. Churchill Downs, Wynn Sports and William Hill are making progress, according to the lottery, with two other operators in the paperwork stages.

Penn National Targets the Big Apple

One of the gaming giants in the US, Penn National Gaming, Inc., has formally jumped into a huge betting market.

The company’s wholly owned subsidiary, Penn Interactive, now will “second skin” access to the New York mobile sports-betting market and the state’s iCasino market, so long as legislation and regulatory hurdles are cleared.

Penn National agreed to a 20-year strategic partnership with Capital Region Gaming, LLC d/b/a Rivers Casino & Resort.

“Gaining potential access to what could become one of the nation’s most lucrative sports betting markets has been a major priority for our Company,” said Jon Kaplowitz, Penn National’s Sr. Vice President of Interactive Gaming, in a statement.

“We are hopeful that the New York State Assembly will follow those leading revenue producing states that allow for multiple skins for mobile sports betting. A state the size of New York certainly warrants open competition and a free market approach.”

The aforementioned hurdles, though, could be significant.

The Penn National launch of its Barstool Sportsbook brand will happen only if online sports betting is legalized and allows for multiple skins per license.

Recently, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo indicated that a state-run lottery model also is under considering, and that is no good for sportsbooks.

Under the somewhat antiquated lottery set-up, a single app is run by the state and would eliminate sportsbooks.

Penn Interactive has online wagering roots in Pennsylvania and Michigan. If all goes smoothly, Penn will be operating its Barstool Sports mobile app in at least 10 states by the end of 2021.

Canada and DraftKings

DraftKings officially released a statement announcing its expansion of an NFL partnership to now include Canada.

The news targeted DraftKings involvement primarily focused on daily fantasy sports.

The exclusive agreement gives DraftKings access to NFL branding and content opportunities in its app and across NFL Media, but the timing coincides with the big news on Canada’s soon-to-be-legal sports-betting landscape.

“The relationship we share with the NFL is important for DraftKings to provide customers a great experience,” Ezra Kucharz, chief business officer at DraftKings, said in a statement. “This expanded agreement gives us a unique opportunity in the Canadian market, and we look forward to working with the team at the NFL Canada as we continue to shape the modern fan experience.”

And, although the company release doesn’t mention sports betting, the overturning of Canada’s federal ban will certainly bring serious volume for DraftKings.

Massachusetts Making more Moves

As with many states without legalized sports betting, Massachusetts has been making small but significant strides toward reversing its laws.

Almost three years into debate over whether to legalize sports betting, the state legislature may be helping to thaw the frozen issue.

Several bills are under consideration, including one proposed by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker.

As of last Friday, there seemed to be improved traction in the Senate, where the issue died last year.

One bill would open up the state for pro sports but not for college sports.

Senator Eric Lesser, co-chair of the committee reviewing the issue, introduced that versio of legislation allowing sports betting online and at casinos and race tracks. He hopes for speedy passage.

“The vast majority of people are just looking to have a little bit of fun and bet on their favorite pro sports team in a social way, and we want to make that safe and legal,” Lesser said, adding the benefits these revenues could produce.

“If fashioned and if implemented correctly, this issue can be a tool, and a source of recovery for the state.”

While Lesser’s bill did not include a tax figure, Baker’s bill, which also would not allow bets on college games, is projected to generate $35 million.

As in most states still wrangling the issue, critics point to the dangers of its citizens possibly losing too much money; supporters point to unregulated offshore sites that citizens already can access online.

They cite the strong regulatory structure of new legislation would offer more protection for consumers.

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