The expansion of sports betting across the country, influx of new companies in the nation’s landscape and acquisitions and technology arrangements are going to be a boon to the Las Vegas sports bettor.
From added prop bets and more in-game wagering options, there’s expected to be growth in that realm in the coming months in Las Vegas, gaming analysts said.
Last week, Caesars Entertainment announced a $3.7 billion deal to acquire UK betting company William Hill. That deal is expected to be consummated during the second half of 2021.
Caesars and William Hill currently operate a U.S. joint venture with 20% and 80% equity ownership respectively. Through this joint venture, William Hill runs online sports betting operations in each state and retail sports betting operations in Caesars’ properties. Caesars owns and operates 54 domestic properties in 16 states.
On Monday, Wynn Resorts announced a deal with GAN Limited to provide the software platform for its internet sports betting and casino business in Michigan where it will launch operations in November for the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. That potentially paves the way for Wynn to ultimately use that software in Nevada, analysts said.
MGM Resorts International has made an aggressive push by launching a national ad campaign this fall for its BetMGM brand with actor Jamie Foxx touting it as King of the Sportsbooks. BetMGM is expected to update its Nevada sports betting app in the coming months to offer more wagering options to bettors.
— Jamie Foxx (@iamjamiefoxx) September 24, 2020
Caesars’ executives say the acquisition will improve offerings to customers. It would also enable William Hill customers access to the Caesars’ loyalty program, which it doesn’t have now.
William Hill has 800 employees in its U.S. business operation and Caesars’ officials said retaining key staff “is of paramount importance” and there are no plans to change the overall headcount.
Since a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in May 2018 paved the way for expansion of sports betting nationwide, 23 states, including the District of Columbia, have legalized sports betting and 19 are live. Seventeen have legalized online sports betting.
“If you want to be a major player in this space, you want to control the technology,” said Macquarie Securities gaming analyst Chad Beynon. “That way you can have creative bets and different props bets, and I think that helps maintain players along with media partnerships.”
Caesars has partnered with ESPN, and William Hill has partnered with CBS Sports. Beynon said William Hill, outside of Nevada, doesn’t have a well-recognized brand and suggested it would be intriguing to have a Caesars’ retail sportsbook with an ESPN brand.
“We’re seeing Penn National roll out these Barstool sportsbooks, which is pretty innovative,” Beynon said.
Beynon said DraftKings and FanDuel, which don’t have a presence in Nevada, have cutting-edge technology and offer the most prop bets so far. The Caesars acquisition of William Hill should lead to an upgrade in technology for even better mobile betting, he said.
“I think we will see more options,” Beynon said. “From a technology standpoint, I don’t think there’s anything super innovative they are offering right now. Once they complete this transaction, they will be able to change the bets and format and lines so much quicker by running in house and handling the risk across the country like William Hill does pretty well in Nevada.”
Beynon said he was looking at NFL bets in New Jersey ahead of Monday night’s two games and said there were 50 to 75 bets for each game for DraftKings and would like Caesars to match that.
“That is where DraftKings and FanDuel are leading now with all these in-play bets, whether it’s a team prop or player prop,” Beynon said.
Beynon said he wouldn’t be surprised if DraftKings and FanDuel tried to add a presence in Las Vegas like European operator Betfred, which is licensed in New Jersey, has done by operating the sportsbook at the Mohegan Sun Casino at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas. It reopens in January.
Anything that helps promote the brand, Beynon said. In September, BetMGM struck a deal to become the first sports betting partner of the Las Vegas Raiders.
“I have talked to people in other states that have sports betting and have been aggressive with TV ads,” Beynon said of MGM. “I think they realized they’re relying on their Mlife members and didn’t have a good conversion ratio initially. Now you have to go at it the old-school way and acquire people through the TV.”
In the end, this is all about a race to lock in the loyalty of customers, Beynon said. “Own the customer in the first and second year and show them a good product and they’ll stay with you” as has been seen in European markets, he said. That’s even more important in Europe where in-play wagering is a bigger piece than the U.S.
“For pre-game, best price works, but for in-play betting you can’t stop around for the first touchdown and first time to seven points or second quarter over and under,” Beynon said. “That’s what those companies believe. You might as well give out good promotions and marketing and decent pricing on pre-game odds and once you have an engaged player in there, then you can squeeze out more in the in play that is 70 percent of the market in the UK right now.”
Beynon said Las Vegas sportsbooks unlike what their same casino properties offer across the country don’t have the technology in place that provides as many betting options as customers would like and see in other locales. That expansion and offerings will make its way to Nevada.
“When it was just Nevada, it wasn’t as leverageable to be as creative with in-play betting, but now that it will be offered in other markets, it makes sense to offer it in Nevada,” Beynon said.