Get A Grip: The Week In Sports Betting: Illinois, Michigan, More

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 (or fashionably late) Sports Handle item, “Get a Grip,” recapping the week’s top U.S. sports betting stories, highlighting some fresh news, and rounding up key stories.

PointsBet joins Illinois online sports betting party

Friend of Sports Handle Joe Ostrowski had the honor (see above) of going first, backing the Chicago White Sox to claim the Commissioner’s “piece of metal” at the end of this strange MLB season. The ChiSox currently hold a 1-game lead over the Minnesota Twins in the AL Central.

Elsewhere in Illinois

On Thursday, FanDuel opened its retail sportsbook at the Par-A-Dice Casino in East Peoria, raising more questions about a second partnership with Fairmount Park. FanDuel went live online in a co-branding partnership with Par-A-Dice in late August despite having a deal with Fairmount Race Track. In fact, Fairmount renamed itself “FanDuel Sportsbook and Horse Racing,” earlier this year. But the track hasn’t been licensed yet, and FanDuel needed to get to market. The new book at Par-A-Dice was pulled together in six weeks after FanDuel decided to pivot.
And earlier in the week, Unibet announced that it will be part of the highly competitive Illinois market — where BetRivers and DraftKings preceded FanDuel in going live online — through a market-share agreement with Penn National and Kindred. Unibet will be tethered to the Argosy Casino Alton, which opened for retail sports betting days before COVID-19 shutdowns in March.

Other big things

THE SHIELD: Betcris is now the official betting partner of the NFL in Latin America [Chalk]

WHAT IT ALL MEANS: A dive into the most compelling issues/questions around the Colorado University-PointsBet partnership [Sports Handle]

HANDLE UP: Indiana sports betting handle surges to $169 million for August [HSB]

CRYPTIC: Popular offshore sportsbook 5Dimes is closing to U.S. customers, but the reason, and its future, is a mystery [Sports Handle]

PULLING UP A STOOL: Check out sneak preview images at Penn Bets and a feature about Penn National’s plans for Barstool Sportsbook [Sports Handle]

CHIN MUSIC CITY: Baseball in Nashville? Justin Timberlake trying to make it happen [TN Bets]

And more of the top industry and sports stories of the week

GOOD PLACE TO BE: ESPN’s Joe Fortenbaugh’s right in the thick of things [BSM]
BRING IT ON: Monkey Knife Fight gets bigger, challenges DK, FD.  [USBets]
‘TIS THE SEASON: Fantasy football takes center stage in CBS, William Hill gambling partnership [Sportico]
BIG SPEND: Advertisers are only too happy to spend on the NFL. Here’s why. [NYT]
COMING SOON: Michigan iGaming could be live by Thanksgiving. [MiBets]
ON TV: VSiN is launching in-game betting show with DraftKings. [CDC Gaming]
WE’RE OPEN: Delaware North’s Southland retail location now open. [ArkansasOnline]
NOW IN WEST VIRGINIA: William Hill goes live online/mobile. [WVNSTV]
HE’S GOT IT ALL: What’s next for Zion Williamson? [Men’s Health]
SOUL SEARCHING? Djokovic hit an official and he’s really, really sorry. [WSJ]


Next frontier: Legal iGaming in Michigan

In this case, ignorance isn’t bliss.

During an iDEA Growth Power Lunch Summer webinar this week, one legislator and one sportsbook operator pointed to ignorance as the reason the iGaming hasn’t been legalized at the same pace as sports betting since the fall of PASPA in 2018.

“At the risk of insulting some of Senator (John) Ford’s and Rep. (Brandt) Iden’s colleagues … some are not comfortable with the internet,” said FanDuel’s Cory Fox. “We’ve brought Reps to see what our offices look like and I know that our friends at DraftKings have, too. We do it so they can see a tech-forward company.”

Indiana’s Ford, who was the architect of sports betting in that state, is planning to push for legal online casino in the upcoming session.

“We are arming ourselves and will educate our colleagues and the public to some extent,” said Indiana State Senator John Ford during the webinar. “People didn’t understand (while we were legalizing sports betting) the gray market — they didn’t understand that people could bet on their cell phones and that it was that easy. We still have some people in Indiana that don’t believe that there is a gray market out there at all.”

As has been shown in New Jersey, the bulk of the money in sports betting is being made online/mobile. So it would seem like a natural fit to add iGaming to the mix, especially with COVID-19 starved budgets across the country. But online casino comes with enough concerns that Iden, the author of Michigan’s comprehensive iGaming law, says it must be carefully navigated.

“The perception of gaming in general — and it doesn’t really matter what jersey they wear, red or blue — they are hesitant,” Iden said. “I think there is a lot of hesitation with iGaming when it comes to addiction.”

Iden also pointed to taxation as another concern.

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