Industry Reports

Paddy Power Betfair Prepares for Legal Sports Betting in the US

One of the largest European bookmakers may be one of the first gambling operators to take advantage of the possible legalization of sports betting in the United States. As the U.S. Supreme Court is now considering whether to revoke the state-wide ban on sports wagering, Paddy Power Betfair prepares for a favourable ruling and planning to expand its TVG network with a television channel dedicated to betting on football, baseball, soccer, and basketball.

Paddy Power Betfair Plc., a sports betting company based in Ireland and the UK, currently runs the largest horse-racing television network in the United States. Its TVG and TVG2 channels (the name derives from Television Games Network) broadcast live horse races from around 150 tracks while its wagering services are available to residents of 35 states. Their customers can place bets online and by phone, but for now, the wagering options are limited to horse racing. The company, however, hopes that this would soon change, in case the U.S. Supreme Court decides to overrule the existing ban on sports wagering. If that happens, states would be able to decide whether to legalize this form of gambling.

Kip Levin, the head of the U.S. division of Paddy Power Betfair, says that he plans to create a new studio for a sports-betting TV channel. In a recent interview cited by Bloomberg, he explains that one of TVG’s programmes could easily be adapted to offer different coverage, namely sports and betting on sports. Levin wants to expand the operations of the TVG network, which comprises of two a horseracing television channels and a pari-mutuel online betting network. The addition of a new channel would allow them to offer customers betting on sports such as football, soccer, basketball, baseball, and hockey.

In March, Paddy Power Betfair joined the American Gaming Association (AGA), the largest and most influential advocacy group of the casino industry in the United States. Although the bookmaker has casino and iGaming businesses in Europe, as well as a licensed online casino in New Jersey, it focuses mainly on horse racing and sports exchanges. At the same time, AGA no longer opposes the legalization of sports betting in the country and now advocating that states should make their own decisions on that matter. With this position of AGA on sports wagering, Paddy Power Bet is clearly indicating that it fully supports the revoking of the ban.

More Operators Gearing Up for Expected Legalization

Most gambling industry insiders are now expecting a favourable Supreme Court ruling which would allow states to legalize or prohibit sports betting. Many states already came up with dedicated legislation, while some sports leagues expressed their support for sports wagering. The gambling industry is also preparing for a positive outcome and warning that illegal bookmakers are now making millions of dollars from a hobby that is widely spread all over the nation. According to estimates cited by the AGA, $150 billion in sports bets are placed each year and 97 per cent of them are illegal.

Gambling companies including casino operators would be affected by the court ruling, which is why many of them are considering expansion of operations and other strategies to adapt to a possibly changing market. The latest company to take steps to launching a sportsbook is Scientific Games. Its business-to-business interactive division SG Digital announced yesterday that it began the process to certify its sports betting technology with the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE).

Kicking off this early stage of the licensing process would position the company well in case the U.S. Supreme Court decides to repeal the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). The ruling is expected by June, so SG Digital is also working on the sports betting products it can offer in the United States via the OpenBet platform which already has a strong reputation as a trusted sportsbook provider in Europe.