It’s information overload everywhere, and there’s not time enough to sleep and eat and stay fully apprised of what’s happening on this crazy blue dot of ours (two out of three ain’t bad). Here’s the weekend Sports Handle item, “Get a Grip,” recapping the week’s top U.S. sports betting headlines, highlighting some fresh news, and rounding up key stories.

Top stories around our network this week

When Fanatics announced that it would be purchasing PointsBet’s U.S. holdings for $150 million, it sent shockwaves through the U.S. sports betting industry.

Then again, “shockwaves” may be the wrong term, as the acquisition had been more or less anticipated for quite some time. The real shocker was when DraftKings swooped in at the 11th hour and made its own $195 million bid for PointsBet’s American assets.

Was DraftKings’ bid more ploy than play? Reports surfaced last week that DraftKings and Fanatics were on the brink of a $48 billion merger back in 2021, with speculation that the latter sportsbook’s bid for PointsBet may have been an act of revenge by its CEO. Whatever the case, Fanatics upped its bid to $225 million and will soon gain market access in a slew of key states after PointsBet’s board approved the sale.

While $75 million might seem like chump change compared to, say, $48 billion, it’s still (cue Dr. Evil voice) seventy-five million dollars. DraftKings’ bluff — if it was a bluff — was the stuff of evil ingenuity. To make up that gap, it’ll take the sale of a whole lot of jerseys and hats, which Fanatics can no longer wed to its sports betting product in Ohio thanks to a new rule put in place Thursday by that state’s hyper-vigilant gaming commission.

Nobody said it’d be easy. In sports betting and in life, it never is.

Count on Sports Handle to keep you abreast of all M&A goings-on, as well as other news in the sports betting industry, as the stories below show from the past week. And for news in the broader gambling world, check out our partner site, US Bets, including its weekly Double Down column and the latest Gamble On podcast.

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Miami vice is perfectly nice

Federal Court Overturns Ruling Blocking Sports Betting In Florida

Necessary roughness

NFL Suspends Colts DB Isaiah Rodgers, Three Others For Violating Sports Betting Policy

Don’t look, kids

Massachusetts Now Requiring ’21+’ On Sportsbook Logos Visible From Sports Venues

Nothing like a second chance

Ryan’s Resurrection: Ex-Pitcher Rises From The Depths Of Gambling Addiction

Ladies and boomers bet, too

Sportsbooks Missing Opportunity To Convert Key Demographics Into Players

At long last, a little lenience

NCAA Adopts More Lenient Policies For Sports Betting Violators

A better Betr?

Betr Raises $35 Million In Funding, Plans To Enhance Sportsbook

Tax hike coming in Ohio?

An Ohio legislative conference committee Friday agreed on a new state budget, and now both chambers must vote on the report by the end of the day.

The Senate’s version of the new budget included a hike in the tax on wagering, lifting it from 10% to 20%. The increase was originally in the House version of the budget, but it was removed during debate and before the House approved its initial version of the budget, 78-19, in April. The Senate approved its budget proposal in mid-June by a vote of 24-7. 

The latest version of the 9,000-plus page proposal is not yet available for review, so it is unclear if the tax hike remained in the conference committee compromise.

– Jill R. Dorson

EPIC to educate MLS players on gambling

Effectively expanding an existing partnership with Major League Soccer’s Chicago Fire to the entire league, EPIC Risk Management announced this week that it had inked a three-year deal to provide gambling awareness educational programs to all MLS players.

Funded by Entain Foundation U.S., the partnership will involve gambling harm education and awareness workshops delivered to the entire membership of the Major League Soccer Players Association. EPIC has similar relationships with the NCAA and NFL Players Association.

“This partnership with EPIC Risk Management and Entain Foundation U.S will enhance our ability to educate and equip our player pool as the presence and inherent risks of sports betting continue to evolve and permeate players’ lives,” said MLSPA COO Dan Jones.

Founded by a reformed gambling addict, EPIC specializes in “lived experience” testimonials from employees who have overcome serious gambling problems and are now trained to help others avoid them.

– Mike Seely

Illinois latest to sign on with U.S. Integrity

A week after announcing a new partnership with the Big West, U.S. Integrity this week shared that it has signed a deal with the University of Illinois for integrity monitoring services. Illinois plays in the Big 10, one of only two Power-5 conferences not to join forces with the company to date. The Big 12, Pac-12, and SEC all have deals in place, as do most major sportsbooks and several professional sports leagues. 

Illinois has also signed on with ProhiBet, a partnership between U.S. Intergrity and Odds on Compliance that allows entities to securely provide prohibited-bettor lists to sportsbook operators and regulators. The platform is currently in test mode, with plans to go live during the football season.

“At the collegiate level, integrity monitoring and education is of utmost importance, and this partnership covers all fronts of maintaining and monitoring sports betting integrity,” U.S. Integrity CEO and co-founder Matt Holt said via press release.

– Jill R. Dorson

More of the most important, interesting stories

CONNECTICUT UP: Connecticut sports betting and iGaming revenue rises for May despite lower handle [B2C]

DELAWARE DOWN: Delaware sports betting handle continues decline in May [iGB]

OREGONZO: Oregon Lottery offers offbeat sports betting opportunities during the summer [KTVZ]

ARIZONA’S BIGGEST BOOK: BetMGM Sportsbook opens at Santan Mountain Casino [BetMGM]

FIRST-ROUND BUST: Could sportsbooks stop taking bets on drafts after NBA controversy? [Front Office Sports]

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