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
In a perfect world, all of the regulated sports betting states would report monthly handle and revenue in a consistent manner: They’d all report it at the same time, for the same month, identifying volumes for each sport and type of bet, spelling out each individual operator’s success, and so forth.
But it’s not a perfect world. (If it were, Shohei Ohtani would be cloned so every baseball fan in every city could see him play virtually every day.) And we’re thus left with dozens of government agencies reporting sports betting numbers on their own different schedules in their own idiosyncratic fashion, some of them omitting a lot of useful information or waiting an exasperating amount of time to release it.
But this past week was one in which a lot of newsworthy numbers were released. They are always tracked closely by Sports Handle’s Chris Altruda, who maintains a comprehensive Sports Betting Revenue Tracker. And one thing becoming clear in 2023 is that sports bettors aren’t necessarily wagering more than they did in prior years, but the operators are earning a lot more revenue from them.
New York, the biggest sports betting state since its mobile launch in January 2022, provides a prime example. Its revenue report for June showed that for the first six months of 2023, its operators’ statewide handle was up only 6.6% from the year before, but their revenue surged by 34.4%. That’s due to a hold percentage of 8.9% that was well ahead of the prior year.
While New York may be the biggest such example, it’s been a wide pattern in the industry — revenue improvements are outpacing any handle increases — with the biggest factor presumed to be the increased marketing and popularity of parlay bets, which have longer odds of success. New Jersey officials just reported that June provided sportsbooks with their second straight monthly double-digit hold, at 11.2%.
In Indiana in the month of June, statewide handle was down 12.6% from the year before but revenue was up 23.4%. Though Colorado is a month slower in releasing numbers, its revenue officials reported that while May handle and revenue both increased from May 2022, the percentage hike in revenue was more than twice as high as for betting volume. Illinois sportsbooks, for their part, had a record hold of 10.8% in May.
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Following and explaining these revenue trends every month is among the most important work we do in covering the industry on Sports Handle and our affiliated sites. Of course, we do much more, as the stories below from the past week show. And for news from the broader gambling world, check out our partner site US Bets, including its weekly Double Down column and the latest Gamble On podcast.
What does it all mean, Florida?
Is latest Florida decision really a tribal gaming game changer?
Kentucky gearing up for the show
Sportsbooks to go live in Kentucky in September, regulator says
Emergency Kentucky sports betting regulations prohibit “misleading advertising”
Some messy stuff at the collegiate level
Report: NCAA has found 175 sports betting violations since 2018
Report: Man tried to bet more than $100,000 in Alabama baseball controversy
Industry in need of lessons on morality
Schuetz: The postage stamp as a small symbol of good ethics
Who’s in charge here?
Massachusetts Gaming Commission names new interim executive director
Maine gambling control chief back at work after unpaid suspension
Little state gets some big complaints
Operators push back on proposed wagering procedures in Vermont
Local operator gets out of the gate … a bit
Crab Sports launches betting platform in Maryland, app not yet available
Gender gap seems to be closing
Study shows significant amount of betting among women, on women’s sports
Virtually, there could be more betting
Should esports stakeholders stake their betting future on staking?
Time to take stock of baseball betting
MLB rule changes lead to more betting on stolen bases
Where’s the best value at All-Star break for MLB futures bets?
Barstool was down, but deliberately
Barstool Sportsbook shut down for 72-hour platform overhaul
Maryland keeps chugging along
Maryland’s all-time sports betting handle surpasses $3 billion
Former ‘Daily Wager’ host Kezirian leaves ESPN
Eleven days after ESPN announced layoffs of many of its biggest on-air names, the network name most synonymous with sports betting, Doug Kezirian, announced his own departure from the Worldwide Leader.
“Today was my final show at ESPN,” Kezirian tweeted on Tuesday. “I won’t even attempt to capture 11 amazing, life-changing years in a single tweet. In short, I want to thank everyone. I truly am so fortunate. Along those lines, I am very excited for the next chapter and will share soon.”
It is uncertain whether Kezirian was a victim of the same round of cost-cutting that ended the ESPN tenures of Jeff Van Gundy, Jalen Rose, Suzy Kolber, and others. Once known as the SportsCenter anchor with the most expertise in sports gambling, Kezirian hosted the podcast Behind the Bets and then ESPN2’s Daily Wager, a half-hour afternoon show focused on sports odds and betting markets, from its debut in March 2019 through September 2022.
— Eric Raskin
LIV back in the news — not all good
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission Tuesday became the latest stakeholder to reject wagering on the LIV Tour when it voted down a request submitted by DraftKings. Multiple commissioners said they would be “uncomfortable” offering the market in light of current controversy around the tour and its proposed merger with the PGA Tour and DP World Tour.
That controversy continued later in the week when the three groups removed a critical part of their agreement — not to poach each other’s players — as they fight a motion filed by The New York Times to unseal documents related to the deal. The group contend those documents would reveal “confidential information.” The proposed merger has also garnered attention on Capitol Hill, through hearings and proposed legislation.
Meanwhile, the LIV Tour announced a partnership this week with Simplebet, which focuses on microbetting. The deal could mean that wagering odds will be available on LIV television broadcasts. Simplebet is partnered with bet365, Caesars Sportsbook, and DraftKings, and LIV golf is approved for wagering in Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, and Ontario.
— Jill R. Dorson
Tweet of the week
you know it’s a slow week in sports when draftkings is firing up a WNBA odds boost
— Barson Wentz (@bigeaglesfan123) July 12, 2023
More of the most important, interesting stories
EVEN GAMBLING SUPPORTERS URGE CAUTION: In Las Vegas, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver discusses keeping eye on gambling [Associated Press]
PREPPING FOR FLORIDA: Analyst: Florida sports betting coming back soon, among other developments [CDC Gaming Reports]
FANDUEL MATCHED WITH WTA: FanDuel scores extension with Women’s Tennis Association [iGaming Business]
COACH PLAYS IT COOL AT ISU: “Minimal” number of Iowa State football players involved in gambling probe, Campbell says [Des Moines Register]
Understandably not a lot of answers from Matt Campbell today on the gambling probe, but it does seem it’s now all about ‘Who?’ and not ‘How many?’https://t.co/1fLhIzgwCI
— Travis Hines (@TravisHines21) July 13, 2023
ONE DOWN IN ARIZONA: Ak-Chin forced to double down on casino after sports betting license bust [InMaricopa]
IOWA BETTING SEES ANOTHER DROP: Iowa sports betting handle down again in June [iGB North America]
NORTH CAROLINA MAYBE NOT DONE YET: Top North Carolina senator says chances for approving more sanctioned gambling this session “better than 50-50” [Associated Press]
NEW BETTING CAUSES CONCERN UP NORTH: Canada: Responsible Gambling Council annual report focuses on single-event sports betting [CDC Gaming Reports]