DraftKings has officially become the first operator to open a mobile app sportsbook outside Nevada. After an invite-only soft launch last week, the sportsbook in partnership with Resorts casino in Atlantic City has become the first operator to take advantage of a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling, in the case of Christi v. NCAA, that overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), de facto opening the doors on legalized sports betting across the United States.
In the aftermath of the ruling various state governments have been scrambling to draft local, state laws to allow and regulate legalized sports betting. New Jersey, who had previously passed a legalized sports betting law which prompted the NCAA lawsuit attempting to block it, was already well positioned to implement legalized sports betting once the Supreme Court overruled PASPA.
After the soft launch of the DraftKings sportsbook app, the New Jersey regulator gave the thumbs up to launch the app live.
DraftKings had previously focused exclusively on fantasy sports and the move to a live, real money sportsbook app marks a new chapter in the company’s history.
The race to market
Other major operators are now set to follow suit to tap into what is estimated to be a $150 billion market.
Earlier this week MGM Resorts International announced that it had inked an exclusive partnership with the NBA, hot on the tail of signing a deal with UK based GVC Holdings to create the platform for their sportsbooks. GVC Holdings has long been a major player in the UK sportsbook market and the deal looks set to give MGM a serious leg up in the nascent nationwide market.
MGM had already been poised to open New Jersey’s first sportsbook through its Atlantic City based Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, when DraftKings beat them to the punch. MGM CEO and Chairman Jim Murren had said the company will start taking bets in New Jersey by the end of the week, but the announced launch date came and went with no action. With MGM already operating a Nevada based mobile sportsbook app running on a platform created by IGT the launch of a New Jersey based sportsbook app is expected any day.
Further down the track
To date, Caesars Atlantic City has remained silent on any possible plans to launch a retail sportsbook but its sister properties, Bally’s and Harrah’s opened sportsbooks on their properties last week. However, the company has announced that it plans to launch a mobile sports betting app called Casears Casino & Sports mobile in time for the start of this years NFL season, which kicks off on September 6. To do so, the company has partnered with Las Vegas based Scientific Games, who already operate lottery and casino games in both the retail and digital space.
At the same time, FanDuel Sportsbook, the US sister company of Irish betting giant and London Stock Exchange listed Paddy Power Betfair opened its doors last month at the Meadowlands racetrack in New Jersey. Some teething pains were reported but the company has hinted that it plans to have a mobile sports betting app up and running by the start of the American football season.
The U.S. arm of UK sportsbook and gaming giant William Hill also announced plans to partner not only with casinos in New Jersey but across the United States to launch its own sportsbook app. The company currently operates a sportsbook app in Nevada and has partnered with two New Jersey casinos, the Ocean Resort Casino and the racino at Monmouth Park, for what many expect will be an app to launch in the coming days or weeks. The company had opened its physical sportsbook at the Ocean Resort just weeks after the physical sportsbook at Monmouth Park went live.
To date, New Jersey has six operational sportsbooks, with four being based in physical casinos.
Other players likely to enter the mobile app sportsbook market include the Golden Nugget Atlantic City, who currently has partnerships in place with SBTech and the racetrack at Churchill Downs but the time line for launch of a mobile app remains unclear.
Hard Rock Atlantic City, which recently opened in the space of the former Trump Taj Mahal, has been tight lipped about its sportsbook plans in light of PASPA being overturned. Hard Rock has already partnered with UK based Bet365, who may be looking to use the Hard Rock as its point of entry into the lucrative U.S. market. A mobile sports betting app is expected to hit the market in the very near future as operators jockey for first mover position in what is undoubtedly the largest market opening in the gaming space in U.S. history.
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