December US Sports Betting Round-Up, by Ryan Knuppel, CEO, Knup Solutions

2020 has been another big year for the sports betting industry, and things are already in place for another massive growth in 2021. As the industry continues to grow, companies continue to look for ways to either enter the US market or expand within the country.

There have already been some major news stories emerge from the first two weeks in December, and these deals will shake up the sports betting industry. Mergers and acquisitions continue to take place, and more states are also looking to legalize sports betting.

Flutter Entertainment Takes Control of FanDuel

Flutter Entertainment already owned a 58% stake in FanDuel in a deal reached in 2018, but the company now owns a much larger percentage of the operator. Flutter recently announced a new deal worth $4.2 billion to acquire an additional 37 percent stake in FanDuel Group.

Flutter now has a 95% ownership stake in FanDuel, with Boyd Gaming owning the other five percent. The news was received well in London as Flutter stock market shares rose by 12 percent following the announcement.

As part of this deal, Flutter will pay FanDuel Group $2 billion in cash and the rest of the payment will come in the form of 11.7 million new Flutter shares. This new deal will give FanDuel an enterprise value of $11.2 billion.

During Q3, FanDuel posted a 46% online sportsbook market share, making it the largest sportsbook operator in the United States. FanDuel was valued at just $558 million back in 2018 when the original deal with Flutter Entertainment took place. 

North Carolina Sports Betting Moving Forward

Sports betting in North Carolina is coming in 2021 as the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and Governor Roy Cooper reached an agreement on an amended tribal gaming compact. Sports betting has been legal in the state since July 2019, when Cooper signed SB154 into law.

The Tribal Council unanimously approved Resolution Number 362 on Thursday, December, which outlined the proposed compact amendments. Both the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and Governor Cooper’s legal team had been working together for more than a year before an agreement was made.

This agreement will now be sent to the US Department of the Interior for comment and review, and this is a 45-day window. Sports betting in North Carolina will likely launch just in time for the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. 

When this deal is officially approved by the US Department of the Interior, sports betting will be available at both Harrah’s Resorts operated by the Cherokee Tribe. The Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort in Cherokee and the Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino & Hotel in Murphy will be the only locations to place a sports bet in the state. 

Construction of the sportsbooks has already been underway and each location will be known as The Book. Mobile sports betting will not be offered in North Carolina as that was not a part of the amendments to the gaming compact. 

888Sport Approved in Three New States

888 Holdings recently received market access to three new states in the US, bringing the total up to six. In 2021, 888Sport will plan on launching its brand in Colorado, Indiana, and Iowa.

Along with offering online sports betting, 888 Holdings also offers online casino gaming and online poker platforms, but the focus will be on sports betting in 2021. 888 Holdings is a London based operator that already offers these three platforms in Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware.

888 Holdings also announced a strong second-half performance in 2020, noting that stock prices are up more than 4 percent. The company has already secured a partnership with the National Football League, and it is looking to become a leader in the US market.

In Colorado, 888Sport will launch under the license available at the Colorado Grande Casino located in Cripple Creek. Cripple Creek is one of just three remote towns that offers retail sports betting in Colorado, but 888Sport will be launching online.

888Sport will launch in Iowa through a deal with the Catfish Bend Casinos II LLC. In Indiana, this deal will give 888Sport access through Harrah’s Hoosier Park which is owned and operated by Caesars Entertainment. 

ZenSports Seeking Licenses in Tennessee, Virginia

ZenSports announced recently that it was looking to purchase a casino in the state of Nevada, but an even bigger announcement came in December. The company confirmed that it completed the necessary paperwork to apply for an online sports betting license in Tennessee and Virginia.

ZenSports is a peer-to-peer gambling exchange platform, and it would be the first of its kind in the US if it was approved. P2P gambling exchanges are big in the United Kingdom, but they have yet to catch on in this country.

Tennessee requires operators to maintain a hold of 10%, and ZenSports has confirmed that it could meet that requirement. Tennessee is an online-only sports betting market, which would make it easier for a company like ZenSports to launch.

Virginia received more than 25 sports betting license applications by the October 31 deadline, and the state will approve just four-twelve operators. It would seem that ZenSports would be on the outside looking in with so many applicants, but the P2P platform gives it an edge on other operators. 

In September, ZenSports secured $1.4 million in new funding which allowed the company to explore the United States market.

This article was written by Ryan Knuppel. Ryan is the founder and CEO of Knup Solutions — a full service sports betting content agency focused on delivering value in the US market.

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