AGA: March Madness Bet Predictions 

The American Gaming Association's 2024 March Madness bet predictions estimate a total handle of $2.72b across the tournament (almost double what was spent at the Super Bowl and 2.2% of 2023's total revenue). 

The NCAA basketball tournament is one of the most significant events in the sports betting diary, with 67 games played over 18 days and a high betting volume.

Research from Eilers & Krejcik Gaming has similarly estimated a $2.68b handle and that around 35-40% of this handle will be placed on in-play bets, showing the growing popularity of live betting.

DraftKings "character assassination"?

DraftKings might be the OSB market leader in the US, but its reputation isn't all that golden. This week, it's taken another potential reputational hit in the form of another lawsuit (the last was brought by players based on misleading bonus texts) that's set to get messy, but this time it's self-filed.

DraftKings alleges a former employee, Michael Hermalyn, stole company secrets and attempted to persuade employees to his new employer. Michael Hermalyn was Senior Vice President of DraftKings' business development and growth departments from 2021-2024. In 2024, he accepted a new position at Fanatics as the President of VIP and Head of LA Office - Fanatics. 

DraftKings has said that Hermalyn stole company secrets and solicited customers and colleagues. An injunction has been placed as part of the ongoing case prohibiting Hermalyn from doing the above. The judge did not approve DraftKings' full request to stop Hermalyn from working at Fanatics during the case period.

The filing largely depends on a small number of cases where relationships crossed over - two instances of DK employees who reached out to Hermalyn with questions about Fanatics' roles they'd already applied to and another where he introduced a customer to a Fanatics VIP employee at the Super Bowl - turns out the customer was already a long-term Fanatics account holder.

As for stealing company secrets, this is easily explained by the fact that DraftKings does not provide employees with work phones, meaning they all download company documents on their handphones.

In response to the case, Hermalyn has accused DraftKings of "aggressive smearing" and "character assassination." He has called for the case to be dismissed because he fears his career will be ruined. He stated that it is built on "fabrications designed to malign and destroy the reputation of a senior employee who had the audacity to seek out a better opportunity."

Florida Settles with Seminoles 

Florida's Supreme Court has settled with the Seminole Tribe in a protracted challenge brought by companies including West Flagler Associates and the Bonita-Fort Myers Corporation.

The main issue was that the plaintiffs said that the gaming compact agreed to and approved by the Florida Legislature and Governor Ron DeSantis in 2021 exceeded the office's authorization capabilities by allowing betting outside of Tribal lands, creating a de facto sports betting monopoly in the state.

The case also stated that the compact went against a 2018 constitutional amendment, which requires a citizens' initiative to allow casino gambling outside of tribal lands.

However, under the compact, the Seminole Tribe can offer mobile sports betting in Florida but must pay the state $2.5bn over the next five years. 

The contradictions and the Seminoles' launch of Hard Rock Bet quickly led to legal challenges. However, DeSantis' attorneys have been quick to point out that sports betting is not casino gaming and, thus, isn't prohibited under the amendment. 

With the Supreme Court now settling on the side of the Seminoles, Hard Rock Bet has the green light to continue trading in Florida.

Pennsylvania iGaming Hits Record High for Revenue - Feb 2024

While revenue might be slipping in other verticals, online casinos in Pennsylvania hit record highs for revenue, with a total of $184.9m.

Total gambling revenue for the month was $499.1m, up 9.3% year over year (YoY) but down from January 2024's $464.4m. Retail slots remained at the top of the charts, accounting for $202.7m. 

Online slot revenue was $125.9m (up 35.6%), with online table games up 56.7% to $56.6m. Hollywood Casino took the top spot for revenue, followed by FanDuel, then Rivers Casino.

Possible Louisiana Gambling Ad Ban

Louisiana is joining Pennsylvania in discussing a gambling ad ban. House Bill 727 was introduced this week and currently sits in the committee. State Representative Shaun Mena crafted it and seeks to prohibit sports betting and daily fantasy advertising on TV.

Sports betting is legal in 55 of Louisiana's 64 parishes (retail from October 2021 and online as of January 2022). In 2023, more than $2.9 billion was spent betting on sports in the Pelican State, and the industry employs thousands.

Despite responsible gambling concerns, the Bill has been called "unlikely to make it" and "bad for business."

New York Delays New Casino License Decision

There's been a lot of news and hype lately regarding New York's three new casino licenses. However, under Commission executive Robert Williams, the New York State Gaming Commission has cautioned that a decision will likely not be reached until late 2025 due to the complex approval process and requirements.

New York opened applications and bids for the three new licenses in January 2023, and to date, MGM, Wynn, Hard Rock, Sands, and Caesars have all submitted plans for new establishments. However, under the regulations, bids must meet specific city environmental quality standards and land use procedures and prove they have the money to fund the development before approval. This makes the approval process lengthy, meaning applications will likely need to revise their bids. 

In preparation, the Commission has warned all applicants to ensure their proposals are water-tight and fulfill all regulations to prevent further delays.

In other News

  • Hacksaw Gaming and BetMGM extend a content deal to a West Virginia online casino, with Joker Bombs and Outlaws Inc. live to play now.
  • Flutter Entertainment has released its full-year records for 2023, showing FanDuel's US revenue grew by 40.7% YoY in 2023. Sportsbook revenue improved by 45.9 percent, while iGaming revenue grew by 47.2 percent with 3.7m new players.