Visualizing NFL Shutouts Since 2008

Not even a field goal. In the NFL, shutouts are rare and represent domination for the defense and an offense that is in sorry shape. A high placing on the y-axis shows a team who has historically struggled on both sides (Browns). A high placing on the x-axis is a team with a stellar defense

Not even a field goal. In the NFL, shutouts are rare and represent domination for the defense and an offense that is in sorry shape. A high placing on the y-axis shows a team who has historically struggled on both sides (Browns). A high placing on the x-axis is a team with a stellar defense who knows how to score (Seahawks). Strong on both is a team with a great defense but bad offense (Rams).

How has your favorite team fared when it comes to shutouts? Check out the graphic below to find out:


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5 NFC East Players/Owners Involved with Esports

Odell Beckham Jr. – WR New York Giants

The star wide out made a sizable investment in Vision Esports back in February. Kevin Durant and the St. Louis Cardinals joined him in a $38 million cap raise for the ownership group that is behind esports organization Echo Fox, (owned

Odell Beckham Jr. – WR New York Giants

The star wide out made a sizable investment in Vision Esports back in February. Kevin Durant and the St. Louis Cardinals joined him in a $38 million cap raise for the ownership group that is behind esports organization Echo Fox, (owned and operated by former NBA player Rick Fox) video game record keeper Twin Galaxies and media company Vision Entertainment.

It isn’t clear what games ODB plays himself, but if he’s invested in esports, he’s likely a gamer as well. He could, however just be a shrewd businessman who knows opportunity when he sees it.

If he is a gamer, it’s likely that he is playing Fortnite – along with the rest of the world. One of the purchasable in-game skins called “Brite Gunner” bears a striking resemblance to the star receiver. As such, he’s become the subject of a lot of clickbait videos that claim to be playing with the receiver, when in actuality, they are just playing with the skin. (See screenshot below.)

 

Jerry Jones – Owner Dallas Cowboys

He’s not a player, but as owners go, Jones is one of the most recognizable in the league. In 2017 he bought – along with real estate mogul John Goff – one of the longest running esports organizations, CompLexity Gaming.

He moved the organization to Texas where he also had a hand in developing the largest esports arena in North America. Technically in Arlington, the stadium is 100,000 square feet and is only about a mile from AT&T Stadium, home of the Cowboys.

Founded in 2003, CompLexity is ancient in the esports world. It fields teams in CS:GO, Call of Duty, Rocket League and Fortnite, to name a few.

However, it is not present in the two largest franchise-based esports leagues in North America. Riot’s North America League Championship Series (NALCS) and Blizzard’s Overwatch League (OWL.) The buy-ins for those leagues are $10 million and $20 million respectively. The majority of teams in both the NALCS and the OWL are backed either fully or in-part by traditional sports owners. Those include NFL owners Stan Kroenke (Los Angeles Rams) and Robert Kraft (New England Patriots)  as well as NBA owners Andy Miller (Sacramento Kings)  and Wesley Edens (Milwaukee Bucks).

Derrius Guice – RB Washington Redskins

The rookie running back is projected to be the starter for Washington this season. He was drafted in the second round, 59th overall, but many thought the LSU star would go in the first round.

So why’d he slide?

There were rumors about his professionalism and maturity, but they didn’t come from LSU, which assured he would pass every test of character. The other, more inexplicable reason is that he is “addicted to video games.”

“I never saw a concern with that until I started seeing reports that said I probably game too much,” Guice told Fox Sports reporter Garland Gillen before the draft. “I was still getting my workouts in, I was still ready for pro day, I don’t see what the problem is. A lot of people in pro sports play video games, so I don’t see why you would be worried to draft someone who does.”

Honestly, if I was a coach, I would much rather my players be dropping into Fortnite games than dropping Jägerbombs. You can’t workout 24/7, and if the rest of the time is spent being competitive online, seems good to me. That sentiment was echoed by fellow gamer and teammate in the backfield Chris Thompson.

For a player who outrushed Jacksonville Jaguars’ star back Leonard Fournette in 2016 at LSU, Washington may have come out like bandits with the seventh back taken in the NFL Draft.

Oh, and for fantasy players, he’s projected as a 4th/5th rounder. Like former teammate Fournette, he could be a steal as an RB2.

Dez Bryant – WR Free Agent

While not technically in the division anymore, the former Cowboys star is a huge Madden fan. In 2017, he played against Dave Grunfeld from NFL.com. It was a close game with Grunfeld taking an early lead but eventually losing to Bryant.

“It’s the best simulation of the game out there,” Bryant said when asked about how it compares to an actual game.

In the third quarter, in true Dez fashion he looked past the wide-open check down and threw a corner route to his virtual persona in triple coverage. And, in true Dez fashion, he caught it.

As he waits to find his next team destination, he probably is playing a lot of Xbox. A huge fan of DragonBall Z, it’s likely Dez has checked out the new fighting game Dragon Ball FighterZ, which recently announced the formation of an official tournament circuit after becoming a favorite title in the fighting game community.

Zach Ertz – TE Philadelphia Eagles

Before the Eagles took down the Pats in the Super Bowl, Ertz and some of his teammates took on a different challenge —  playing troops stationed overseas in a variety of esports.

It came from the non-profit Joint Forces Initiative, which helps connect athletes and celebrities with military members all over the world.

“It builds up the morale,” said airman Jonathan Cunningham to FOX29 photojournalist Bill Rohrer. “If you’re able to be happy when you’re out there. I’ve been there. Little things like this just bring up the morale and perform better for the Air Force, the Army, what have you.”

Receiver Mark Hollins played Overwatch and defensive end Steve Means played Madden. Means ended up throwing a touchdown to the virtual Ertz, while the real one stood over his shoulder, watching the action.

Joint Forces founder Greg Zinone told Rohrer how gaming can help bring people together.

“What that controller does in their hand, with just playing a video game for that long. It breaks down barriers and it is like you are almost playing your best friend in the basement,” Zinone said.

This is the part three of our division by division look at esports in the NFL. For future reading here’s Clay Matthews, Kyle Long and the NFC North. And here’s Richard Sherman, Todd Gurley and the NFC West. 

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Texans claim OT Johnson off waivers from Browns

Texans claim OT Johnson off waivers from Browns

A day after he was waived by the Cleveland Browns, offensive tackle Roderick Johnson was claimed by Houston, the Texans announced on Wednesday.

A fifth-round pick out of Florida State in 2017, Johnson didn't see the field in the regular season with

Texans claim OT Johnson off waivers from Browns

A day after he was waived by the Cleveland Browns, offensive tackle Roderick Johnson was claimed by Houston, the Texans announced on Wednesday.

A fifth-round pick out of Florida State in 2017, Johnson didn’t see the field in the regular season with Cleveland, spending his entire rookie campaign on injured reserve with a sprained medial collateral ligament and meniscus damage in his knee.

Johnson, 22, did play in all four preseason games last year, starting two.

The Browns waived him on Tuesday to make room for Greg Robinson, the No. 2 overall pick in 2014 who flamed out with the St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams and was waived midseason last year by the Detroit Lions.

Houston has one of the league’s least proven tackle situations. After starting four games as a rookie, 2017 fourth-round pick Julien Davenport is penciled in at left tackle, and free agent signee Seantrel Henderson — who has started one game since 2015 — is expected to man the right side. The Texans also drafted Martinas Rankin in the third round of April’s draft, but some have projected him to move to guard or center.

To make room for Johnson on the 90-man roster, the Texans waived tackle Kendall Calhoun, an undrafted rookie out of Cincinnati.

–Field Level Media

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Giants give Abrams VP of football operations title

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — The New York Giants have added the title of vice president of football operations to the duties of assistant general manager Kevin Abrams.

General manager Dave Gettleman, who is undergoing treatment for lymphoma, made the announcement Wednesday. Abrams has been with the Giants since 1999.

Mark Koncz, brought

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — The New York Giants have added the title of vice president of football operations to the duties of assistant general manager Kevin Abrams.

General manager Dave Gettleman, who is undergoing treatment for lymphoma, made the announcement Wednesday. Abrams has been with the Giants since 1999.

Mark Koncz, brought in by Gettleman as a consultant before the draft, becomes the director of player personnel. Koncz was with the Carolina Panthers from 1994-2017 and was their director of pro scouting from 2000-17. He worked under Gettleman when Gettleman was Panthers general manager from 2013-16.

Chris Pettit has been appointed director of college scouting after spending the previous 13 years as an area scout. He joined the Giants’ scouting staff in 2005.

Patrick Hanscomb will be an area scout whose concentration will be the Mid-Atlantic states. Hanscomb spent the previous 10 seasons in the team’s pro personnel department.

Marcus Cooper has been hired as an area scout who will focus in the Southeast. Cooper spent the previous seven seasons with the Buffalo Bills.

John (Jackie) Miles is the team’s new head equipment manager.

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For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

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Pittsburgh Pirates Take Sports Betting ‘Integrity Fee’ to Whole New Level

The post Pittsburgh Pirates Take Sports Betting ‘Integrity Fee’ to Whole New Level appeared first on SportsHandle.

The near-consensus among state lawmakers is that Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association’s desire for a direct cut of sports betting revenue should go unfulfilled. League representatives have largely been

The post Pittsburgh Pirates Take Sports Betting ‘Integrity Fee’ to Whole New Level appeared first on SportsHandle.

The near-consensus among state lawmakers is that Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association’s desire for a direct cut of sports betting revenue should go unfulfilled. League representatives have largely been met with skepticism at some state hearings if not outright hostility.

The leagues have rooted their justification for a “betting right” or “integrity fee” — one percent (or any percent) off the top — in a flawed intellectual property argument and, ultimately, what amounts to a request.

But last week the Pittsburgh Pirates, in response to a call for comment from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board regarding the temporary sports wagering regulations, put forth a bold new claim for sports betting revenue from state licensees: they want sports betting revenue earmarked to support the upkeep and capital improvements of PNC Park, home of the Pirates.

Pittsburgh Pirates President Wants Sports Betting ‘Integrity Fee’ to Benefit PNC Park Capital Improvements and Upkeep.

Pittsburgh Pirates President Wants Sports Betting ‘Integrity Fee’ to Benefit PNC Park Capital Improvements and Upkeep.
PNC Park.

Writes Frank Coonelly, President of the Pittsburgh Pirates (full statement here) in a letter to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board:

“Without professional sports there can be no professional sports betting. Providing a professional sports product is a costly endeavor. While our landlord is responsible for maintenance and operational expenses at PNC Park, the Pirates are responsible for maintenance and operational expenses at PNC Park, which has been named the premier ballpark in the country since its opening in 2001. The capital needs at PNC Park are significant and unfortunately are much higher than the current funds allocated to them by our landlord. We have been engaged in constant dialogue over the past five to seven years with city, county and state officials about the need to allocate a funding source to the capital needs of PNC Park.

It stands to reason that a portion of the revenue collected from sports wagering should be allocated to the maintenance and upkeep of PNC Park and other sports-based facilities in Pennsylvania which provides for sports wagering in the first place. We are concerned that no such provision is included in the current law or the Regulation.”

This whopper — an additional meter past anything MLB officials have state on record — came after Coonelly ticked through the standard MLB talking points that legal sports betting imposes severe integrity risks to each team. Also implicit in the letter is a threat that the city, county and state should provide the Pittsburgh Pirates with additional taxpayer funds to support the privately owned entity. Or else.

Also note that in the full letter, Coonelly refers multiple times to an “integrity fee”™, which the leagues have attempted to disclaim in favor of “betting right and integrity fee.”

The furthest we have yet seen an MLB official go in acknowledging a sports betting fee/royalty would grow the revenue pie pure and simple occurred in May.

“We acknowledge that the fee is going to be more than our costs, so that revenue would go to our clubs just like any other revenue would,” MLB Senior Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, a fixture at state-level sports betting hearings, told The Athletic (subscription required).

MLB officials as well as West Virginia Governor Jim Justice have argued that they want licensees to pay the leagues this cut — not states — but that is simply a misdirection because less operator revenue means a reduction in state taxes as well as money to support vendors and employment of residents.

How Much Taxpayer Money Is Enough?

According to Watchdog.org, a non-profit organization “dedicated to the principles of transparency, accountability, and fiscal responsibility,” here is how many taxpayer dollars have already supported the Pittsburgh Pirates:

The Steelers play at Heinz Field, which opened in 2001 at a cost of $357 million, with the Steelers putting up $76 million and taxpayers put on the hook for $281 million. PNC Park also opened in 2001 for the Pirates at a cost of $262 million with state taxpayers picking up $75 million, regional taxpayers $137 million and the Pirates $50 million. The Pirates’ share was partially paid by the $30 million PNC Bank gave them for naming rights to the predominantly publicly financed stadium.

Those sums would dwarf what a cut of sports wagering would provide to any individual team if the pro leagues were able to shake down states, or push Congress (the prospect of which has further dimmed recently) to force state-licensed operators to pay the leagues a direct cut.

Which doesn’t change the fact that this Pirates statement represents a novel new grab at taxpayer dollars, to support a private enterprise.

MORE FROM SPORTSHANDLE
Sports betting news, business and stories Las Vegas live odds
Where can I bet online? Check out our betting legislation tracker MLB, NFL, NCAA and more game coverage and sports betting breakdowns
The latest on sports betting legislation and regulation The latest sports betting podcast ‘The Hedge’ from Jimmy Shapiro

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Wake adds Villanova to 2020 schedule in series of changes

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — Wake Forest has added Villanova to its 2020 schedule while its game with Tulane that season has been pushed back to 2027.

Wake Forest officials announced a series of schedule changes Wednesday.

The Demon Deacons were scheduled to play Tulane on Sept. 5, 2020. When that game was moved

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — Wake Forest has added Villanova to its 2020 schedule while its game with Tulane that season has been pushed back to 2027.

Wake Forest officials announced a series of schedule changes Wednesday.

The Demon Deacons were scheduled to play Tulane on Sept. 5, 2020. When that game was moved back seven years, Wake Forest’s visit to Old Dominion in 2020 was moved up two weeks to replace it. The Villanova game then will fill the ensuing opening on the schedule.

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More AP college football: www.collegefootball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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Denver Broncos’ stadium gets a new, temporary name

DENVER (AP) — The home of the Denver Broncos will be known as Broncos Stadium at Mile High while the team continues to look for a new naming-rights sponsor.

The team announced the temporary name change Wednesday following a vote by the district that oversees the taxpayer-built stadium.

The stadium has had two

DENVER (AP) — The home of the Denver Broncos will be known as Broncos Stadium at Mile High while the team continues to look for a new naming-rights sponsor.

The team announced the temporary name change Wednesday following a vote by the district that oversees the taxpayer-built stadium.

The stadium has had two naming-rights sponsors since it opened in 2001, most recently Sports Authority. Both names included a reference to the Broncos’ original stadium. The team took down large signs with Sports Authority’s name earlier this year after the company declared bankruptcy and stopped making payments.

In a statement, Broncos Chief Commercial Officer Mac Freeman said the team has had “many productive conversations” and is confident it will find the right partner.

A deal would help pay for stadium maintenance.

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More AP NFL: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

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Sports Betting on Campus From a Student’s Perspective

The post Sports Betting on Campus From a Student’s Perspective appeared first on SportsHandle.

Sports betting is already popular on college campuses, and based on a recent poll by Morning Consult, it will become even more prevalent as legal sports betting becomes available in

The post Sports Betting on Campus From a Student’s Perspective appeared first on SportsHandle.

Sports betting is already popular on college campuses, and based on a recent poll by Morning Consult, it will become even more prevalent as legal sports betting becomes available in a growing number of U.S. states. Already New Jersey and Delaware have issued licenses to operators that have begun offering residents full-fledged sports wagering since the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act on May 14.

Morning Consult found that 21 percent of survey respondents said “they’re likely to bet on sporting events if the practice becomes legalized in their state,” and the ages trend younger (38 percent of that subset who answered affirmatively are ages 18-34).  According to the National Center For Responsible Gaming (NCRG), 75 percent of college students gambled to a certain extent in the past year.

As a rising junior at Syracuse University, I can attest that sports betting is already very popular on my campus and othersAnd as a sport management major, gambling is something that is often talked about both inside and outside the classroom. Do the above facts and figures accurately represent college-student gambling tendencies? My conversations with several peers revealed that some do enjoy sports betting responsibly, but some have fallen into addiction.

Sports Betting on Campus: Excitement, Pitfalls and Risk Taking, as Told by Fellow Students to a Rising Syracuse Junior.

College students have always had a reputation for being risk takers with things like alcohol, drugs, music, sex and gambling. The freedom of not living under the same roof as their parents for the first time allows young adults to indulge in new experiences and opportunities.

There are many different types of college sports bettors. They wager for many reasons, with different frequency and in different amounts. Some college students bet on sports to try and earn a quick buck in an exciting fashion. After talking to and interviewing a sampling of college students, the one constant is that gambling has an immense presence on college campuses. Almost every college student has come in contact with sports gambling one way or another and it can have a negative, positive, or no effect on their daily lives.

According to Many Interviews and Observations, Sports Betting College Students Fall Into Two Key Categories. 

Inside Syracuse University’s Carrier Dome, where both the football and basketball teams play.

When college students come in contact with sports gambling, there tends to be two different ways of approaching the topic. The first, being the students strapped for cash, looking for what appears to be an easy way to make money. These are the students who typically have a negative experience with sports betting.

Gambling can very easily turn into an addiction. Once an 18- or 21-year-old gets a taste of winning, (s)he may continue to bet until the situation goes south. For example, one student named Max described to me a negative experience that had a major impact on his life (names herein changed for anonymity). This student considers himself a moderate sports fan, who made roughly a few hundred dollars gambling on basketball the first two weeks of having an active sports betting account with a bookie on campus. “This was my first real experience betting on sports, and the thrill of winning and making free money was unlike anything I had done before.”  

[Also See:  Problem Gaming ‘Legend’ Talks Sports Betting Addiction]

Unfortunately, the next few weeks did not treat him as well. He got cocky and ventured into the baseball world, knowing little about baseball. “I like to consider myself a big basketball fan. I enjoy watching baseball but I didn’t know enough about the sport to be placing bets on it. That was my problem.”

Max continued to gamble and eventually dug himself into a hole from which he struggled to climb out. (This is similar to the college experience of a recovering addict who previously spoke to Sports Handle.)

Max owed one of the local bookies more than $300 and had to seek help from his parents to bail him out. Fortunately, he was able to settle this issue without any serious consequences. Through the experience, he learned never to gamble with money he did not necessarily have access to.

According to the NCRG Most College Students Gamble Responsibly. 

The NCRG writes that “while the vast majority of college students who are of legal age to gamble do so responsibly. Six percent of college students in the U.S. have a serious gambling problem that can result in psychological difficulties, unmanageable debt, and failing grades.”

When asked about the future of legal sport gambling, Max was clear that it’s not for him. 

“It seems like the expansion of sport gambling would be positive to the different sport leagues, but I am going to stay away from it,” he said.

The Second Group: Sports Fanatics Responsibly Enjoying Sports Betting.

The second type of college sports gamblers are the people who love to follow sports and actively engage in sporting events. These types of students consider themselves sports gurus who gamble using strategies to make the games more exciting.

Cory is an avid NFL and New York Giants fan and uses sports gambling as a way to test his knowledge of his team and the league as a whole. Cory uses strategies when he gambles, so he can gain an edge. “Before I ever place a bet, I will do research looking at different trends, and other statistics so I have the best opportunity to win my bet.” Cory also stressed the importance of self-control whenever he decides to place a wager. “Many of my friends who also gamble tend to get lost in the experience. It is very easy to double-down if the team they bet on is not winning, and they can very easily lose double the amount they originally bet.”  

Each week during the NFL season, Cory sets himself up with a cap he can spend on gambling. If he loses, he pays his bookie, and is done for the week. If he wins, he will often save the money he earns and put it toward food or clothing.

These types of people often make gambling a social event with their friends, who bet on the same event and cheer together. When asked about the camaraderie of sports gambling in social settings, Cory laughed and said, “There’s nothing like it. There’s nothing like gathering around a TV with your buddies, and the potential to either win or lose real money by the end of the game.”

These types of sports gamblers are the people who typically use either a local bookie or a reliable offshore site. When asked about the future of sports gambling, the response from these types of gamblers was extremely positive and they seemed excited to see sports gambling expand.

“Personally I never really understood why sports gambling was illegal at all,” Cory said. “The possibilities seem to be incredible, and as long as people enjoy it responsibly, it can be an amazing way to enjoy sports.”

They are not all old enough to legally gamble yet, but they’re optimistic about the opportunity to gamble legally, rather than relying on college bookies.


Justin Davis is a Sports Handle summer intern and a rising junior in Syracuse University’s David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics.

MORE FROM SPORTSHANDLE
Sports betting news, business and stories Las Vegas live odds
Where can I bet online? Check out our betting legislation tracker MLB, NFL, NCAA and more game coverage and sports betting breakdowns
The latest on sports betting legislation and regulation The latest sports betting podcast ‘The Hedge’ from Jimmy Shapiro

The post Sports Betting on Campus From a Student’s Perspective appeared first on SportsHandle.

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Ex-Bills GM Whaley named NFLPA’s college scouting director

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Buffalo Bills general manager Doug Whaley is taking over as the NFL Players Association's director of college scouting.

Whaley will oversee the recruitment, evaluation and selection of draft-eligible prospects to compete at the annual NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. He replaces Tony Softli, who left to become the Alliance of American

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Buffalo Bills general manager Doug Whaley is taking over as the NFL Players Association’s director of college scouting.

Whaley will oversee the recruitment, evaluation and selection of draft-eligible prospects to compete at the annual NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. He replaces Tony Softli, who left to become the Alliance of American Football’s scouting director.

Whaley was hired Wednesday, a little over a year after being fired by the Bills. He spent eight seasons in Buffalo, including four as GM.

The Bills fired him as part of a major organizational shake-up which began with Sean McDermott replacing Rex Ryan as coach.

Whaley has 22 years of NFL scouting experience, including an 11-year tenure with his hometown Pittsburgh Steelers.

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More AP NFL: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

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NFL to hold Pro Bowl in Orlando for third straight year

NFL to hold Pro Bowl in Orlando for third straight year

The NFL announced this week that it will hold the Pro Bowl in Orlando for a third straight season.

The league held a third-year option for its annual all-star event.

The Jan. 27, 2019 game will

NFL to hold Pro Bowl in Orlando for third straight year

The NFL announced this week that it will hold the Pro Bowl in Orlando for a third straight season.

The league held a third-year option for its annual all-star event.

The Jan. 27, 2019 game will be held at Camping World Stadium on Jan. 27 and televised on ESPN. The same stadium has averaged 56,000 attendees for the past two Pro Bowls.

–Field Level Media

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Odds Shift In Race for Operator Dominance In Legal U.S. Sports Betting Market

The post Odds Shift In Race for Operator Dominance In Legal U.S. Sports Betting Market appeared first on SportsHandle.

It’s been three months since Sports Handle handicapped the prospective operators in the contested field for dominance in the new, and burgeoning, U.S. business of legal

The post Odds Shift In Race for Operator Dominance In Legal U.S. Sports Betting Market appeared first on SportsHandle.

It’s been three months since Sports Handle handicapped the prospective operators in the contested field for dominance in the new, and burgeoning, U.S. business of legal sports betting. It’s time to see how our predictions have played out so far. And in the spirit of our original mythical future book, as any prudent bookmaker would do, let’s revise our odds and once again look ahead at the sports betting business.

Below is a look at what was expected prior to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that overturned PAPSA — the 1992 law that barred single-team sports betting in every state except Nevada — plus a review of recent events and acquisitions, and what may unfold in the immediate future.

We have 11 top contenders in our future book that merit individual analysis below, in addition to a significant group we classified as our “field,” those being other contenders in the race to become a nationwide sports bookmaking leader and major brand name in the business. The field will be examined in a forthcoming Part II. As with any business, it’s profits that count. Biggest might not be best in what is going to be a competitive run up as sports betting legislation get inked in more and more states.

With An Expansion of Legal US Sports Betting As More Sports Betting Legislation Passes, Which Operators Will Reign Supreme? Handicapping the Field.

William Hill: 4/1 (opening line: 3/1)

The U.K.-based company’s U.S. CEO Joe Asher has continued a seemingly endless series of appearances at gaming conferences in all corners of the U.S. even after the Supreme Court decision, altering his message from “let’s make it (sports betting) legal” to “let’s regulate it reasonably.”

This means low taxes and no fees, “integrity” or “royalty” or otherwise, to the various sports leagues. William Hill has made a significant investment at Monmouth Park racetrack in New Jersey and sprung open that venue on June 14 after New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed the enabling legislation earlier that week.

[Also See: New Jersey Sports Betting Launches at Monmouth Park With Vibrant Crowd]

Asher’s public remarks, as always, have been measured and thoughtful and it has become clear that William Hill won’t open up shop just anywhere — only where there’s favorable regulation. It’s clear to this observer that if William Hill can make money for New Jersey in the form of tax revenue and for itself, other states with model legislation like New Jersey’s roll out of the red carpet will work for Asher and William Hill.

Because the company is married to Monmouth Park in a sense, its future depends on how well it does there. It also has a deal with Ocean Resort Casino in Atlantic City. There are no guarantees when it comes to booking sports. That uncertainty causes this handicapper to raise the odds, but only slightly. The company’s risk manager, director of trading, head bookmaker or whatever you want to call him, Nick Bogdanovich, is one of the best around. He’ll make the New Jersey and Delaware forays successful. If they are exceedingly successful, other states will seek out the company to manage their bookmaking, as well.

MGM Resorts International: 8/1 (opening line: 8/1)

The odds of MGM dominating the sports betting industry in the U.S. are viewed here as significant. Company CEO Jim Murren says he’s “all in” on sports betting, and Las Vegas sportsbook director Jay Rood went to Atlantic City numerous times to make sure opening last week went smoothly, which it did.

There was speculation that MGM may have been seeking to establish sportsbooks beyond its own properties, but upon further review, that now appears unlikely. MGM will soon have a major property in numerous northeast states including in Massachusetts (MGM Springfield set to open in late August), New York (it has purchased the racino at Yonkers Raceway just outside New York City), New Jersey (the company now owns 100 percent of the Borgata, generally regarded as Atlantic City’s finest venue) and in metro Washington D.C. (its National Harbor casino/resort in Maryland has been highly successful since opening in December 2017).

[Also See: ‘Roxy’ Roxborough’s Keys to Successful Nationwide Sports Betting]

The amount of possible sports betting handle at these locations alone is mind boggling, especially if a mobile app is in play and if marketed with comps and free play for opening an account. MGM has recently implemented a news sports betting platform that was developed by IGT. It ties sports betting to the rest of the casino operations, certainly a positive for its overall business operations.

But it was slow to roll out and has some limitations. That’s not to say it can’t be improved. However, to win the business where it competes with other experienced sport wagering operators, having a top-flight betting platform will be crucial for success. IGT is likely already working on V.2 (Version 2).

Paddy Power Betfair/FanDuel: 8/1 (opening line: 10/1)

In March, we grouped FanDuel, the No. 2 daily fantasy operator, with leader DraftKings and indicated both might need a physical presence to go along with their mobile and online dominance. DraftKings’ alliance is detailed below. Meanwhile, FanDuel has been gobbled up in “Pac-Man” fashion by another of our leading contenders, Paddy Power Betfair (PPB).

The move gives the enterprise an immediate television presence because the company already owns TVG, the horse-racing network and has an operating online gaming platform in New Jersey. FanDuel claims a robust seven million registered users. PPB also found its first New Jersey partner at the Meadowlands racetrack, a facility located adjacent to Metlife Stadium Giants and Jets) – a quick jaunt from midtown Manhattan.

Once PPB “Americanizes” what is regarded in the United Kingdom as its top sports betting software and once more states reveal their licensing and taxation requirements, look for this new entity to be a significant player, especially (eventually) in California where TVG is located and where, pending the “piecing in” of the state’s monopoly-like tribal gaming interests, a multi-billion dollar sports wagering market awaits.

Most likely, later rather than sooner PPB/FanDuel will be a major player, so our odds have been lowered. The company will need to show the patience waiting for regulation in California that William Hill displayed in New Jersey.

DraftKings:  10/1 (opening line: 15/1)

In March, we indicated that both of the major Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) leaders would need some corporate adjustments to enter the regulated expanded sports betting marketplace and that seems to be just what has occurred.

DraftKings recently announced its joining Resorts Casino as a “licensing partner” to set up sports betting in Atlantic City. Now, having achieved a physical presence in New Jersey, DraftKings can assuredly move forward as a major player. The company claims it has 10 million current DFS participants and the e-mail addresses that go along with them. Even half that number would be impressive.

The key will be a devising a formula to meld the two decidedly different kinds of sports betting into a two-pronged product. Although DraftKings lacks physical locations, it certainly has an edge in its mobile and online capabilities. It will be interesting to see if the Atlantic City deal translates to a deal in Connecticut. Mohegan Sun, one of the two tribal gaming entities (Foxwoods is the other) that controls gambling in the Constitution State, operates Resorts Casino in Atlantic City. Resorts is owned, however, by real estate tycoon Morris Bailey, so it’s possible this deal won’t mean much in any other market. DraftKings has also indicated it would not be up and running at Resorts until the NFL season starts in September.

Caesars Entertainment: 15/1 (opening line: 8/1)     

Three months ago, the prognosis was for Caesars to quickly move into any state where it already had a brick-and-mortar presence when it becomes legal in that jurisdiction. Soon after the Supreme Court ruling, CEO Mark Frissora proclaimed that Caesars Entertainment is in the “best” position to take advantage of legal sports betting. “We’ve been very focused on digital and mobile as platforms that we want to incorporate in our business model, and this plays right into that,” Frissora told CNBC.

Although the company sold its online games business during its bankruptcy proceedings (from which it emerged in October 2017), it still has the core capability in-house, he said.

Therefore, the company will be able to “set up very quickly” in states that pass sports-betting legislation, he said. Caesars is ready to operate in Atlantic City when the enabling law is signed, and sources have told me there is now a more aggressive sports betting marketing strategy in terms of fair lines, customer incentives and an increased marketing budget in place to compete with its New Jersey brethren on and near the Atlantic City’s historic boardwalk.

Just this week, the company began advertising nationally for sport betting personnel in Mississippi and has posted, in-house, job availabilities in Atlantic City, where it has yet to begin operations.

Caesars’ sports betting business in Las Vegas makes money, but its not significant when compared to other parts of its massive casino/resorts on the Strip. The company attracts customers to its Las Vegas casinos and offers sports betting largely as an amenity. Their tight lines and few incentives for smaller players reflect this. There’s nothing wrong with that as a business strategy. It appears that this same strategy could be in play in the numerous other states, such as Indiana, where it has a major presence. The odds have been raised because it’s likely Caesars will inaugurate sports wagering at its own locations and only go elsewhere if a casino operator in a locale where Caesars is not doing business seeks to take advantage of its significant brand profile.

Penn National: 18/1 (opening line: 15/1)

Penn National Gaming Hollywood Casino sports betting operator

Penn is now the largest regional casino operator in the U.S. and should never be discounted. It has an industry reputation as a well-run enterprise and cost-conscious company. At the end of March, Penn’s growth continued with word that its $2.8 billion acquisition of Pinnacle was complete, adding 16 casinos in nine states and a racetrack in Texas to the Penn National portfolio.

It was the first major casino to spin off a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT), a tax-saving maneuver quickly emulated by MGM and Caesars. The company has been strangely quiet about sports betting. CG Technology runs the legal sports books at its two Nevada locations, M Resort (off Strip) and The Tropicana (on Strip). The relationship with CG was inherited when they bought the properties.

Many view a sportsbook as an amenity that drives foot traffic, and driving foot traffic to other casino activities never seemed to matter to CG. Penn, just as CG’s other leased Nevada venues (Venetian, Hard Rock, Cosmopolitan and Palms), receives significant rent and benefited from a sportsbook remodeling from CG as part of the deal that allows it to operate. Thus Penn’s sportsbook profits are guaranteed because of the rental arrangement. It’s just not known nor has any hint of speculation emerged as to whether Penn likes this arrangement and would want to export the concept to its other properties. The company itself has had little to say on sports betting.

However, stock market analysts have repeatedly called attention to Penn’s huge portfolio of properties and ability to be a major player. What is certain is that Penn will do due diligence and find the best way for sports betting to bolster the bottom line. The lack of any public statement by Penn as to how it will approach sports betting has caused a slight uptick in our future book odds.

Boyd Gaming: 20/1 (opening line: 15/1)

boyd gaming operator legal us sports betting regional

Boyd mirrors Penn in many ways. But a big exception is its long experience running sportsbooks. It’s one of the biggest sportsbook operators in Nevada, and is expected to open sportsbooks in its own properties in other states after state after laws are passed.

It already operates casinos in Louisiana and Iowa, and recently bought a Pennsylvania casino (Valley Forge) in King of Prussia, planting its corporate flag in a state expected to soon have sports wagering when lawmakers reach a consensus on a more reasonable tax schedule, reduced licensing fees and regulation of online betting.

Just like Penn, stock market prognosticators see Boyd as being in an especially beneficial position to take advantage of the ability to book sports wagers where it operates. Unlike Penn, Boyd has lots of experienced sportsbook executives, including longtime director Bob Scucci. He knows how to run a book and he knows how to make sports betting appeal to the masses with an extensive array of proposition bets and a continued emphasis on highly profitable parlay wagers. Boyd’s odds have only moved slightly upwards because it looks like extensive legislative battles will be fought in middle America and in the south, where the company has its largest footprint. When the time comes, Boyd will be ready to move forward. Bet on that!

Next time: a closer look at other players, a couple of household names and the “new shooters” in what appears to be a highly contested battle for sportsbook supremacy.


Robert H. Mann, a 31-year resident of Las Vegas, is the industry writer and columnist for Gaming Today newspaper and gamingtoday.com. His opinions are his own and may not reflect those of  Sports Handle.

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