US May round-up: Kansas sports betting growth, Detroit casino revenue rises

Sports betting revenue in Kansas was 10.1% higher at $9.8m (£7.7m/€9.1m) in May. As for Detroit, revenue from land-based casinos increased 7.2% to $113.2m.

Beginning the analysis in Kansas, despite year-on-year growth, revenue was 5.8% lower than the $10.4m generated in April. Some $9.6m of all sports betting revenue came from online activity, with retail contributing $155,888.

In terms of handle, total player spending in May hit $172.2m, an increase of 43.1%. Of this, $164.1m was wagered online and $8.1m at retail sportsbooks across Kansas.

The state collected a total of $976,764 in sports betting tax, most of which also came from online wagering.

FanDuel and Kansas Star lead the pack

FanDuel, partnered with Kansas Star, took the lead in the Kansas online betting market in May. Revenue from this partnership topped $5m from $51.3m in wagers.

DraftKings and partner Boot Hill Casino, which led in April, posted $4.4m in revenue from a $75m handle. Caesars and Kansas Crossing were the only others to post revenue, with this at $213,734 off $7m handle.

As for the retail market, only two partnerships generated revenue. FanDuel and Kansas Star led with $143,640 off $748,252, ahead of DraftKings and Boot Hill on $12,248 off $211,445.

Looking at the year to date, total revenue in the five months to the end of May hit $107.8m. This includes $103.1m in online revenue and $4.7m from retail.

As for handle, this topped $2.22bn in the same period, with $2.13bn bet online and $97.5m from retail locations.

Casino and sports betting growth in Detroit

Turning now to Detroit, total market revenue was up from $105.6m last year. The $113.2m posted in May is also 3.5% higher than April’s figure.

This includes $111.3m in revenue from table games and slots, a 6.3% increase on last year. 

The other $1.9m was attributed to sports betting qualified adjusted gross receipts (QAGR), up 80.1% from May 2023. This was despite a 34.3% drop in handle to $11.1m for the month. 

MGM continues to lead in Detroit with 46% market share. MotorCity ranks second with 31%, then Hollywood Casino at Greektown with 23%.

Slots and table games revenue at MGM climbed by 5.3% year-on-year to $51.9m. MotorCity also saw this revenue increase 4.9%, with casino-based revenue at Hollywood Casino up 10.3% to $25.7m.

As for sports betting, MotorCity led the way with QAGR hitting $825,176. MGM was second on $545,028, then Hollywood Casino with $488,548.

In terms of tax, the state of Michigan received $9.0m in gaming taxes from casino activity, while $13.2m went to the city of Detroit in wagering taxes and development agreement payments.

With sports betting, the casinos paid $70,261 in gaming taxes to the state and $85,874 in wagering taxes to the city of Detroit.

MLB umpire disciplined for violating gambling policy

The exact details of Hoberg’s penalty are unknown, but he has not appeared in a game this season. In its statement on Friday, MLB said Hoberg did not directly manipulate games, but did not rule out him betting on baseball.

Per league rules, betting on baseball is punished with a year-long ban. Betting on games in which one is playing, coaching or officiating results in a lifetime ban.

Hoberg is appealing the decision.

“During this year’s spring training, Major League Baseball commenced an investigation regarding a potential violation of MLB’s sports betting policies by umpire Pat Hoberg,” the statement read. “Mr Hoberg was removed from the field during the pendency of that investigation.”

Despite there not being “any evidence that games worked by Mr Hoberg were compromised or manipulated in any way,” MLB determined that “discipline was warranted”. It did not comment further.

Hoberg became an MLB umpire in 2014 and began full-time work during the 2017 season. He was selected for post-season games in every season from 2018-2022. Per accuracy analyst Umscorecards.com, his performance in Game 2 of the 2022 World Series was perfect. Hoberg called all 129 balls and strikes accurately.

Suspension would be first for umpire post-PASPA

If Hoberg’s discipline is upheld, he would be the first MLB umpire to be sanctioned for betting since the US Supreme Court’s repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in 2018.

There hasn’t been a high-profile gambling-related scandal involving an official among the major US professional leagues since 2008, when ex-NBA referee Tim Donaghy got 15 months in prison for committing wire fraud and transmitting betting information.

Donaghy was found to have bet on NBA games over a period of four years, and shared inside information with bettors. At that time, sports betting was federally prohibited and only legal in Nevada.

League continues to grapple with betting scandals

The latest announcement adds to the litany of gambling scandals that MLB is currently dealing with.

Nine days ago, the league banned former Padres’ infielder Tucupita Marcano for life and suspended four others. Marcano bet on Pittsburgh Pirates games when he was still a member of that team in 2021. He was the first to receive a lifetime ban for gambling since Pete Rose in 1989.

The other four – Oakland A’s pitcher Michael Kelly and minor leaguers Andrew Saalfrank, Jay Groome and Jose Rodriguez – received one-year suspensions for betting on baseball.

Ippei Mizuhara, former interpreter for two-time MVP Shohei Ohtani, pleaded guilty on 4 June to stealing $17m from Ohtani to cover gambling debts. Mizuhara bet and lost hundreds of millions with an illegal bookmaker. He is awaiting sentencing.

Ohtani’s former Los Angeles Angels teammate David Fletcher, is also under investigation for betting. Fletcher, who is now a member of the Atlanta Braves’ Triple-A affiliate, reportedly bet with the same illegal bookmaker as Mizuhara.

NSW government mulls Tabcorp proposal to increase POC tax to 20%

Wagering operators active in NSW currently pay POCT at a rate of 15%. However, Tabcorp is proposing the government implements the rise to bring NSW in line with other states that charge 20%.

Both Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory currently have a POCT rate of 20%. NSW only increased its rate from 10% to 15% in June 2022. It introduced an initial 10% rate in January 2019.

POCT applies to the location where bets are placed, rather than where the operator that accepts wagers is located. This means all operators active in NSW are subject to tax in the state, regardless of their licence registration location.

Alongside POCT, the Tabcorp proposal includes several other points related to reforming legislative and licence requirements for wagering. Potential reforms include a requirement to enter an agreement with the racing industry and 10% shareholder cap.

NSW treasurer calls on operators to pay their “fair share”

The NSW government said the proposal will ultimately be considered based on value for money, benefits to the NSW taxpayer and its ability to secure a sustainable future funding model for the NSW racing industry.

The government is inviting submissions from wagering operators and any other parties that face being hit by the changes.

“Gambling companies should always be paying their fair share,” NSW treasurer, Daniel Mookhey, said. “The NSW government will apply strict scrutiny to Tabcorp’s proposal. Change will happen if it is clear that the public will be better off.”

The minister for gaming and racing, David Harris, added: “The NSW racing industry generates billions of dollars for the NSW economy and sustains tens of thousands of jobs. The NSW government wants to ensure the industry has a sustainable future for all those who make a living from it and participate in it and that the public is getting its fair share from all involved.

“We must be satisfied the proposal meets the interests of both the wider community and the racing industry and its stakeholders, before we consider implementing any elements of it.”

Tabcorp hails “positive” step for NSW

Issuing a statement on the matter, Tabcorp welcomed the decision to establish a formal process on the proposal.

If implemented, Tabcorp said the reforms would create a level playing field and modernise retail exclusivity, similar to recent reforms in Victoria and Queensland.

“This is a positive step towards ensuring the sustainability of the NSW racing industry,” Tabcorp said. “We look forward to working constructively with the NSW government and the NSW racing industry during this process.”

Addisons warns higher POCT could reduce competition

Also commenting on the news is Jamie Nettleton, gambling law partner at Addisons. Nettleton raised concerns over the rate impact such a move could have on NSW, particularly in terms of competition in the market.

“A further increase in POCT will impact bookmakers significantly,” Nettleton said. “It is assumed that will increase the tax revenues that will be generated but will this be the case? Some commentators have suggested otherwise.

“Also, further increases in the taxes and other imposts will limit the ability of bookmakers to offer attractive betting options. This in turn is likely to restrict competition in the sector as only a few of the larger bookmakers will be in a position to absorb the increased tax.

“But an increase in the POC tax is only one of the possible outcomes of the review – it will be of interest to see the other reforms being considered.”

Light & Wonder approved for $1.00bn share repurchase programme

The repurchase programme is effective immediately and runs through until June 2027. This has been approved by the Light & Wonder board.

Light & Wonder’s existing programme to repurchase up to $750.0m of common shares was set to expire in February 2025. However, the new programme will extend this and allow the group to repurchase more stock.

As of yesterday (13 June), Light & Wonder had exhausted the full $750.0m share repurchase authorisation. Through this it purchased 11.2 million common shares, or 11.5% of all shares outstanding at the inception of the programme. 

The average purchase price of $66.72 per share represents a 28% discount to the closing price of $92.35 on 13 June.

Programme to support Light & Wonder growth strategy

Light & Wonder CEO Matt Wilson welcome the board’s approval for the scheme. He said the repurchase programme will further support the group’s wider growth strategy.

“I am pleased to announce that the board has approved a new, upsized share repurchase programme,” Wilson said. “We continue to successfully execute our growth strategy and return meaningful capital to our shareholders. 

“With strong operating performance continuing across the business, we remain on track to achieve our $1.40bn consolidated AEBITDA target for 2025 while continuing to invest for the future.”

Chief financial officer Oliver Chow also supports the scheme. He says: “Our prior programme was an effective value creation tool. Moving forward, the new programme will allow us to deliver further value to our shareholders while underscoring our commitment to driving profitable growth and upside beyond 2025.”

Revenue tops $756m in Q1

The programme launch follows a successful Q1 for Light & Wonder, during which revenue increased by 12.8% to $756m. It was also the 12th consecutive quarter of year-on-year growth for the group.

Revenue during the three months to 31 March was higher across the Gaming, SciPlay and iGaming businesses. As a result, Light & Wonder also reported higher group net profit for Q1, with this jumping 272.7% to $82m.

In addition, adjusted EBITDA climbed 12.9% to $281m, driven by strong revenue growth and sustained margin strength across all segments.

Also in Q1, Light & Wonder made a strategic investment in no-code automation platform Flows. This, the group says, will help accelerate growth and scale up operations in markets worldwide. 

The purchase raised questions about further deals for the group. CEO Wilson says while the business continues to monitor the market for opportunities, nothing is immediately in the offing.

Sports Handle report: 59% of sports bettors wager daily, novelty markets enticing new customers

On Wednesday (12 June), B2B sportsbook provider Betsson, in partnership with GambleID and Sports Handle, released results of a market report. The report revealed that over half of US bettors place daily bets, while 33% of respondents bet on a weekly basis.

Two surveys were carried out as part of the report, issued to operators and “known sports bettors. Ninety-seven surveys were completed by bettors, 98% of whom were male.

Many of the participants were in the 25-34 and 35-44 age categories, at 30% and 32% respectively.

Five per cent of the sample said they placed bets occasionally, while 2% said they bet monthly.

Contrary to the industry’s belief that bettors are loyal to few apps, the results showed that 43% of players have downloaded more than five apps, while 21% have four to five apps on the go and only 5% are loyal to one product.

When asked which type of bets they preferred, a majority of respondents – 81% – bet on the point spread, while 69% bet on the moneyline, meaning the final outcome or winning team. The third most preferred type of bet was over/under bets, at 63%.

Propositions bets were the fourth most preferred, at 54%. College prop bets are currently under fire in the US, with Charlie Baker, president of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) calling for a ban on college prop bets from US markets. So far, Louisiana, Ohio, Maryland and Vermont are among the states that have implemented a ban.

Bettors choosing to bet less than $100 per month

When asked what their total monthly deposit was, 37% of participants said this was less than $100. A total of 10% said this was between $1,000 and $4,999, while 1% reported spending $10,000 and over. Nine per cent chose the “prefer not to say” option.

Football was the most popular sport to bet on, with 92% of participants choosing it as one of their top three. Basketball was next at 66%, while golf came in third at 27%.

Some of the least popular sports included esports and boxing, which both got the votes of 1% of respondents.

More than half preferred betting via mobile apps. Online was the choice of 22% of respondents, while retail sportsbooks received 2% of votes. However, 17% chose both online and sportsbook.

DraftKings comes out top in app awareness

Of the respondents, 93% selected DraftKings as their top or most well-known app, with FanDuel coming in second with 92% of the vote. Caesars Sportsbook followed with 89%.

Up to 74% of the bettors sample said Rush Street Gaming’s BetRivers Sportsbook was well-known to them, while BallyBet and Superbook tied as the apps bettors were least aware of.

“It was nice to see confirmation that there are up to five apps on many bettors’ phones,” Lance Agostino, commercial director B2B at Betsson Sportsbook, noted in the report’s market research.

Similar results were also seen for the “preferred betting platform” question, with DraftKings on top again and FanDuel tailing behind.

Looking ahead, 54% of respondents sought improved latency in sports betting apps. The option for personalised bet suggestions was chosen by 24%, while 19% rated improved integration with social media platforms.

20%-30% of first-time bettors become repeat customers

When asked whether they had noticed recent shifts in consumer preferences, six firms said they had seen an increased desire for more betting options. Four noted more demand for better odds and a rise in mobile betting use.

The majority of bettors included in the sample (74%) said odds were the priority in picking a betting site. This was followed by user experience (70%) and promotions (62%).

Five noted a rise in more first-time bettors, with one unnamed company noting that novelty markets have piqued the interest of potential new customers.

Two operators said both entertainment value and advertising were key in engaging these first-time bettors. They said that 20%-30% of first-time bettors typically become repeat customers.

Looking at the sports betting operators’ survey results, the report noted that the sample was small, with seven respondents total. The respondents hold licences in Arkansas, Colorado, Maryland, Nevada and New Jersey.

Codere cuts debt by €1.2bn in recapitalisation agreement  

Spanish operator Codere has said it will undergo a recapitalisation agreement to reduce its corporate debt by €1.2bn to €128m and add €60m in new financing.

A statement by the group said the move to cut debt would enable it to focus on fulfilling its strategic plans for growth and long-term value.  

The company said €20m of the new liquidity would be received in July. 

It said: “[The debt reduction] will allow the group to significantly reduce the cost of interest, thanks to the significant reduction in debt and the advantageous conditions achieved.”  

A recapitalisation is often carried out to restructure a company’s debt and equity mixture and help stabilise its capital structure.

2024 adjusted EBITDA expected to improve

It expects leverage (debt used to leverage returns from investment or developments) to stand at around 0.9x its adjusted EBITDA for 2023.

In Codere’s FY2023 results it said adjusted EBITDA losses had been reduced by almost 80% during the year. Q3 2023 adjusted EBITDA came in at €(4m).

At the time Codere CFO Oscar Iglesias said: “We expect 2024 will be the year in which we pivot to profitability, generating positive adjusted EBITDA and cashflow on the back of between €185 and €200 million of net gaming revenue.” 

As part of the transaction Codere will transfer its ownership to creditors and those providing the latest financing. It has been backed by “a significant majority” of Codere’s current bondholders and shareholders.

The company expects the recapitalization to be completed by the end of the third quarter of 2024.  

In May the company reported Q1 revenues of €313.8m, which marked a 14% dip on the previous year.  

At the time it said the group’s cash position remained largely stable at €104m, although that number did represent a slight decrease from €107.5m at the beginning of the quarter.  

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State of the Union: A look back at the week that was in North America

DC Lottery chief resigns, takes new job Connecticut

Washington City Paper reporter Alex Koma broke the news that DC Lottery Office of Lottery and Gaming chief Frank Suarez resigned. Suarez has accepted a similar position with the Connecticut Lottery. The OLG chief has been on the hot seat for months as the DC Council has been considering busting The District’s monopoly. Suarez has undergone intense questioning from councilmember Kenyan McDuffie.

The CFO’s office, which oversees the lottery, tells me Suarez is taking a new job as the head of the Connecticut lottery. He’ll leave D.C. officially on July 31. https://t.co/NBvqb64xOW

— Alex Koma (@AlexKomaWCP) June 13, 2024

Wednesday (12 June), the DC Council voted to advance a budget that includes opening DC’s single-source wagering market. The budget must go through one more vote before heading for mayoral and congressional approval.

Fate of Florida sports betting …

The justices of the US Supreme Court met Thursday (13 June) to determine whether or not they will hear oral arguments in  West Flagler Associates, Ltd., et al. v. Deb Haaland, et al. The case could determine the future of legal sports betting in Florida. According to the SCOTUS website, results of the conference will be made public on 17 June at 9.30am ET.

At the heart of the case is whether or not US Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland should have allowed the 2021 compact between the state of Florida and the Seminole Tribe to be deemed approved. The compact allows wagers to be considered placed where they are accepted.

In other words, bets made anywhere in Florida that flow through tribal servers are considered to have been placed in Indian Country. West Flagler, a parimutuel, argues that Haaland stepped out of bounds by allowing compact approval. In addition, there are issues around the compact itself. Among them, whether the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act governs off-property wagering, or if the compact violates the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.

Hot-dog eating champs to chow down in Netflix special

Joey Chestnut, who it appears will not be competing in the Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July hot dog-eating contest, will take on his longtime rival. Chestnut and Takeru Kobayashi have agreed to a live Labor Day chow down on all-beef hot dogs on Netflix. The competition will air 2 September, according to the Associated Press.

There’s been plenty of drama around Chestnut this week, after he said he was banned from the Nathan’s contest because he’s signed a deal with Impossible Foods. Major League Eating said the deal created a conflict with Nathan’s.

Major League Eating addresses Joey Chestnut’s choice to represent a rival brand, expressing disappointment and hope for his return to Nathan’s Famous. pic.twitter.com/NrbK4aRUc8

— Major League Eating (@eatingcontest) June 11, 2024

Kansas-Missouri border war continues

Earlier this week, Kansas City, Kan. mayor Tyrone Garner said he’s behind a plan to try to lure the Kansas City Chiefs and Kansas Royals from Missouri to Kansas, according to CDC Gaming. The Chiefs are considering a move after a sales-tax initiative that would have paid to renovate Arrowhead Stadium failed. Kansas’ law allows for wagering tax funds to be used to draw professional teams to the state. But tax revenue from legal wagering won’t generate enough money on its own. Lawmakers are reportedly considering creating bonds to fund construction of pro stadiums.

The Kansas legislature is scheduled to go into a special session keyed in on tax cuts 18 June.

Bernie Kosar files a lawsuit over bet, firing

Former Cleveland Browns quarterback turned NFL broadcaster Bernie Kosar has sued BIGPLAY media, reports Cleveland.com. Kosar contends that company employees “forced” him to place a real-money bet on launch day in Ohio. The bet on the Browns to beat the Steelers ultimately cost him his radio gig with the Browns in 2023. NFL employees are not allowed to bet on the their own team or the league.

Kosar is seeking $850,000 in damages, including $25,000 in attorneys fees.

Cherokee Nation gets thumbs up for Pope County casino

Arkansas’ racing commission Wednesday (12 June) accepted a bid from Cherokee Nation Entertainment to build a casino in Pope County. The proposal includes a 200-room hotel and 50,000 sqft casino with 1,200 slot machines, and 32 table games. Additionally, there will be a state-of-the-art sportsbook and a dedicated poker room. The ARC must issue a licence within 30 days.

The Gulfside Casino Partnership also submitted a bid. The commission refused to consider it, saying that the application was missing a letter in “support from the local governing body, either the quorum court or the county judge.” Because of the omission, the commission considered the application incomplete.

Worth the read

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In other news …

Mega Millions players will get better odds and higher payouts in 2025, according to Lottery Geeks. Mega Millions previously announced it will raise its price to $5. During a Montana Lottery Commission meeting Wednesday (12 June), details of what’s to come were revealed.

Digital gaming company Greentube announced that it will enter Ontario through a partnership with Caesars Entertainment. Players on Caesars Palace Online Casino and the company’s sportsbook will have access to titles like Thunder Cash and Dolphin’s Pearl, and other North American-specific games. Additionally, Greentube recently debuted Silver Lux: Big Win Spinner.

Jefferies Equity Research Thursday (13 June) released its monthly overview of foot traffic at land-based casinos. The report shows a 5.1% year-over-year increase in the number of in-person customers in regional markets. But that number is still down against 2019.

Hard Rock will open its permanent Rockford, Ill. location 29 August. The grand opening will include a guitar-smashing event. The location will have 1,300 slots, 50 table games, a poker room, and a sportsbook, reports the Beloit Daily News.

Daily fantasy provider PrizePicks announced a partnership with Kindbridge Behavioral Health. Through the partnership, PrizePicks customers and front-facing employees will have access to free problem gambling services.

ICYMI on iGB

Open, competitive market coming to Washington, DC?

FanDuel sends DC betting handle to 450% gain in first month

Regulators taking action against black market

Senate redistricting could make Alabama lawmakers more amenable to gambling