News and Analysis
ESPN Bet Live in 17 States with Online Casino in MI, NJ, PA, and WV
In the biggest story of the week, it’s official: ESPN Bet is live. The platform opened its virtual doors on Tuesday under Penn Entertainment. The brand new sports betting site has gone live in 17 states, with online casino verticals under Penn’s Hollywood Casino brand, offered to players in Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.
Jay Snowden, CEO and president of PENN Entertainment, said, "We're extremely proud to introduce ESPN BET and look forward to delivering an exceptional customer experience to fans across the U.S.
Our successful launch is the culmination of months of hard work across both teams and we could not be more excited to roll out ESPN BET in partnership with ESPN. PENN’s operational excellence paired with ESPN's unmatched brand and reach is a powerful combination that will drive this compelling new sportsbook.”
The original Hollywood online casino platform, currently available in Pennsylvania, will close permanently on December 14th. There’s no automatic migration in place, and players must sign up for a new account using ESPNbet.com.
West Virginia Goes for Poker Gold and Joins The Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement
In the second biggest story of the week, West Virginia has become the fifth official signatory to join the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA).
The first and only of its kind, MSIGA, was created in 2014 and applies to poker. It allows for cross-border games and shared prize pots, meaning poker players in WV can soon go head-to-head against those in New Jersey, Delaware, Nevada, and Michigan. With more players adding to the pool, it's set to increase the competitive quality of games and the size of prize pots, so this is excellent news.
According to West Virginia Lottery Assistant Director Randy Burnside, the next steps involve WV online casinos, like BetMGM and FanDuel, getting MSIGA members' approval and testing the product before going live.
New York Becomes the First State to Pass the $2bn a Month Mark
October revenue figures are in, and New York has officially become the first state to process more than $2 billion in internet sports wagers across a single month. The total was $2.1 billion, a whopping 30.5% increase YoY. FanDuel remained the market leader, followed by DraftKings, which placed second, and BetMGM in third.
Strikes in Michigan See Revenues Fall Almost 20%, While Nevada Avoids Walk Out
We’ve talked a lot about strikes over the last month as Michigan and Vegas casino employees have been fighting for higher wages and benefits and more job security. The Vegas saga finally drew to a close last Friday, with BetMGM, Caesars, and Wynn all negotiating in the final hours before staff hit the picket line.
But, things are not looking so rosy in Michigan, where 3,700 workers from Detroit's five land-based casinos have been on strike since October 17th. Figures have now revealed that casino revenue has dropped 19.45% YoY.
There’s no end in sight for Michigan, as earlier this week, workers doubled down efforts and called on residents to boycott Michigan’s online casinos and sportsbooks.
Social Casinos Under the Hammer
A class action suit by Nevada resident Steven Horn seeks legal address against Amazon for supplying social casino apps. The lawsuit argues that social casino apps are, in fact, akin to illegal gambling as they offer highly addictive games that are profitable and use virtual coins, which players can buy and, therefore, equate to real money.
The lawsuit targets Amazon for supplying the apps and demands the company, which it says takes a 30% cut of each bet, to return the illegal proceeds it has made. The legal text reads, “By utilizing Amazon for distribution and payment, the social casinos entered into a mutually beneficial business partnership. In exchange for distributing the casino games, providing them valuable data and insight about their players and collecting money from consumers, Amazon takes a 30% commission on every wager, earning billions in revenue.
The result (and intent) of this dangerous partnership is that consumers become addicted to social casino apps, maxing out their credit cards with purchases amounting to tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. Consumers addicted to social casinos suffer a variety of non-financial damages ranging from depression to divorce to attempted suicide.”
Social casinos are considered legal in most US states because players do not have to buy coins, and they provide free virtual gaming. However, past challenges have set the standard, such as the 2018 IGT case in Washington, which ended in a $415m settlement and social casinos refusing players from this state.
NJ Casinos in to Forfeit $75K in Illegal Winnings
NJ land-based casinos are in hot water after the NJDGE revealed several violations dating back to 2020. Ocean Casino, Resorts, Golden Nugget, Ballys, Harrah’s, and Parx were named as accepting illegal bets from underage or self-excluded players. Resorts was the biggest offender in financial terms and was ordered to forfeit $51,643 in winnings, $33,590 of which came from one single, self-excluded player.
Meanwhile, online casinos in NJ have also been flouting rules, as both DraftKings and Rush Street Interactive have received fines. DraftKings received a $7,500 fine for allowing a self-excluded player to make an account, and BetRivers (Rush Street Interactive) was handed a $2,500 sanction for accepting wagers on unapproved events.
This information adds to research published by the NJDGE in October, showing NJ’s problem gambling rate stood at 6% and points to serious, responsible gambling compliance issues in the state.
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