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The Latest in Sports-Betting News: Significant Development In The Business

As interest in legal North American sports betting grows, here’s a look at some of the significant developments in the business over the last few days.

Arizona Issues Licenses to Sports Betting Operations

Arizona is the next U.S. state to offer legalized sports betting. To that end, the Arizona Gaming Department (AGD) issued 18 betting licenses to professional sports franchises, tribal gaming interests, and corporate partners last Friday.

Some large-scale partners, specifically Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ: WYNN), announced they were granted the licenses last week. 

Other successful licensees include Bally’s (NYSE: BALY), MGM Resorts International (NYSE: MGM), Caesars Entertainment (NASDAQ: CZR), Rush Street Interactive (NYSE: RSI), and Barstool Sportsbook from Penn National Gaming (NASDAQ: PENN). 

Mobile sports app giants DraftKings (NASDAQ: DKNG) and FanDuel also received licenses.

The licensees will partner with professional Arizona sports organizations, as well as NASCAR, the WNBA, the PGA Tour, and the Indoor Football League. The NFL’s Arizona Cardinals, for example, are partnering with BetMGM; the NBA’s Phoenix Suns will join forces with FanDuel; MLB’s Arizona Diamondbacks will work with Caesars.

The AGD had the authority to issue 20 licenses, receiving 10 applications from tribal gaming interests and 10 from pro sports franchises. This means two applicants were, for unknown reasons, rejected. 

Operators can officially start taking bets in Arizona on September 9.

ESPN Looking to License Brand

ESPN, a division of the Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS), has been looking for inroads into the sports-betting market. Fox Business reports that the sports-media company had discussions with sportsbooks Caesars Entertainment and FanDuel about licensing the ESPN brand as a name for gambling apps.

In return, ESPN is expected to ask for exclusive marketing deals with the sportsbook companies, including a minimum amount of ad revenue across all ESPN media platforms. 

Specifics of the talks between ESPN and its suitors have not been released, but any deal would likely be worth at least $3 billion.

ESPN’s efforts follow moves by other sports media giants to gain a foothold in the sports-betting boom. CBS Sports, Fox Corp., FuboTV, and Sinclair Broadcast Group have all either inked partnerships with, launched, or acquired sportsbooks in recent months.

NFL Announces Ad Partnerships with Sports Books

On August 30, the National Football League announced the launch of new advertising partnerships with four major sportsbooks.

FOX Bet, BetMGM, PointsBET, and WynnBet were officially announced as “Approved Sportsbook Operators” for the 2021 NFL season. Under the agreements, the operators will have the ability to buy in-game commercial time — which sounds curiously like stock options — as well as “the exclusive right to leverage NFL marks within the sports betting category.”

Caesars Entertainment, DraftKings, and FanDuel are also approved Sportsbook Operators for the NFL. The league is being quite aggressive about entering the sports-betting space after decades of strict resistance.

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