Busi­nesses scramble for foothold in sports bet­ting

The Morning Journal (Lorain, OH) - - SPORTS - By Wayne Parry

AT­LANTIC CITY, N.J. » The an­tic­i­pa­tion of le­gal sports gam­bling through­out the United States has prompted a flurry of deals among gam­bling and tech­nol­ogy firms who want a foothold in a mar­ket worth bil­lions.

Casi­nos, race tracks, daily fan­tasy sports com­pa­nies and oth­ers are itch­ing to of­fer bets in per­son and on­line af­ter the Supreme Court ruled Mon­day that states could be­gin al­low­ing wagers. That’s led com­pa­nies all over the world to seek ways to team up.

Some casi­nos need mo­bile apps or some­one to set lines and run sports books that op­er­ate much dif­fer­ently than slot ma­chines and ta­ble games. Many tech firms, daily fan­tasy sports com­pa­nies and oth­ers need gam­bling li­censes and ex­pe­ri­ence with sig­nif­i­cant reg­u­la­tion. Other com­pa­nies that han­dle data se­cu­rity and pay­ment pro­cess­ing are also join­ing the fray.

The in­dus­try is pre­par­ing for most of the bet­ting to hap­pen on smart­phones, just like in Europe. That would also be new for most U.S. states, as in­ter­net gam­bling has been lim­ited to just three states in re­cent years.

“This is a multi­bil­lion­dol­lar in­dus­try that has been oper­at­ing in dark­ness and can now be brought into the light with le­gal­iza­tion and reg­u­la­tion,” said Richard Schwartz, pres­i­dent of Rush Street In­ter­ac­tive, which op­er­ates Sugar House On­line Casino, a gam­bling site for New Jer­sey res­i­dents that of­fers slots and ta­ble games.

Churchill Downs, the race track that runs the Ken­tucky Derby, said Wed­nes­day it inked deals with a tech com­pany for its plat­form and the Golden Nugget casino in At­lantic City for its li­cense in New Jer­sey. It bought Presque Isle Downs & Casino in Penn­syl­va­nia in March and owns two casi­nos in Mis­sis­sippi, with plans to of­fer sports bet­ting in all three states.

Dublin-based gam­bling firm Paddy Power Bet­fair has an on­line casino in New Jer­sey but is con­sid­er­ing merg­ing its U.S. busi­ness with Fan Duel, the pop­u­lar daily fan­tasy sports com­pany, in a deal with clear up­side for both sides. Bet­fair would gain a well-known Amer­i­can brand with mil­lions of cus­tomers built on tech­nol­ogy that could be used for sports bet­ting. Fan Duel, mean­while, would need ex­per­tise on com­plex reg­u­la­tion if it hopes to gain a casino li­cense, a move that most fan­tasy sports com­pa­nies tried for years to avoid by ar­gu­ing that fan­tasy sports doesn’t amount to gam­bling.

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