US professional leagues reaping benefits from sports betting
By Buck Wargo – SiGMA US correspondent
Increased engagement and lucrative media deals are having a positive effect on US professional leagues, just three years from the legalisation of sports betting, according to a new report issued by FitchRatings.
The NFL and NHL recently signed important media deals as other professional leagues are expecting to follow suit.
FitchRatings said that US leagues, which once shunned gambling, are now continuing to embrace sports betting that could have a positive “knock-on effect on the value of media contracts and league revenues moving forward.”
Henry Flynn, a FitchRatings director and lead author of the report said:
The big way that leagues see gaming is on a fan engagement side.
There’s been fantasy football for years, and you have more live in-gaming betting now. Leagues recognizes that people have a passion for these sort of games and want to find ways to embrace that enthusiasm.
Some leagues have already partnered with leading casinos and sports betting companies, providing data and further integrating engagement with fans.
Since the US Supreme Court struck down a federal ban of single-game bets outside Nevada, in 2018, some 21 states and the District of Columbia started offering sports betting.
Other states are moving fast in the same direction.
This week, the Arizona legislature approved sports betting while Maryland moved closer to do the same.
Other important developments were registered this week.
ESPN, one of the NBA’s partners, said that it will devote a broadcast and online stream exclusively to sports betting for the Philadelphia and Brooklyn game.
Sports betting operator DraftKings announced the hiring of a chief media officer who will explore media and content deals. Last month, DraftKings acquired the Vegas Sports Information Network, an American sports betting radio network and streaming television channel that broadcasts from the South Point and Circa Las Vegas casinos.
Also, Bally’s Corporation, which owns and manages twelve casinos in eight states, announced it has reached an agreement with Sinclair Broadcast Group to broadcast Bally’s produced content on Sinclair’s 19 regional sports networks recently rebranded as Bally’s Sports. That will also support the release of a Bally Bet app.
PENN NATIONAL/BARSTOOL SPORTS
In its report, FitchRatings said that as US sports betting valuations reach all-time highs, there’s a significant amount of merger and acquisition activity in the sports betting industry.
Penn National Gaming stock “increased precipitously thanks to positive momentum around its sports betting business,” it said.
Penn is leveraging a social media platform of one of its subsidiaries it acquired a stake during 2020, Barstool Sports, to drive its business.
It is expected to offer sports betting in as many as 12 states by the end of 2021.
According to Flynn, sports and sports betting are continuing on the current trend of companies going public via a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC).
Sportradar, which has partnerships with many of the largest professional sports leagues, including NHL, MLB and NBA, to collect data and sell it to media companies and sports betting operators, is reportedly planning to go public through a SPAC.
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