FanDuel Starts NASCAR Fantasy; Former CEO Once Questioned … – Legal Sports Report

Fantasy NASCAR fanduel

Here comes a NASCAR fantasy game at FanDuel, a right-turn move in the world of lefts for the DFS operator.

FanDuel Fantasy NASCAR opens this weekend for the Geico 500 race at Talladega Superspeedway. The new game type asks players to select five drivers under a salary cap, similar to contests for other sports.

There will be a series of free-to-play contests with $25,000 in cash and prizes, including a VIP trip to Daytona. The top contest for the opening week is $25,000 guaranteed with a $4 entry fee.

“Our fans wanted us to develop a NASCAR product and we listened. Our new NASCAR game gives users a brand new sport to play when visiting our site,” said Nik Bonaddio, FanDuel’s Head of Product.

There once was a time FanDuel said no to NASCAR

Not that long ago, FanDuel took the stance that NASCAR crossed into legal territory too dangerous for business. Former CEO Nigel Eccles laid out his reasoning in 2015:

“The legal status is very negative,” Eccles said of fantasy NASCAR that year on RotoGrinders. “NASCAR doesn’t provide a lot of stats that you could construct a fantasy game around, and so any game quickly resembles sports betting. Unless that changes I can’t see us offering fantasy NASCAR.”

Eccles left the company at the end of 2017.

The law in question is the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). Language within UIGEA spells out the terms that gave FanDuel pause:

All winning outcomes reflect the relative knowledge and skill of the participants and are determined predominantly by accumulated statistical results of the performance of individuals (athletes in the case of sports events) in multiple real-world sporting or other events.

Single-game fantasy is all the rage

DraftKings offered NASCAR and fantasy golf years earlier, while FanDuel only launched a golf product last year. DraftKings jumped in with NASCAR on a 2015 sponsorship deal.

In 2018, the two companies have fully embraced single-event fantasy sports, offering one-game contests for NFL, NBA, NHL, Major League Baseball and even single-round golf contests.

And since Eccles’ comments, the legal landscape has changed at the state level, with about 40 percent of states putting a daily fantasy sports law on the books. Many of those laws seem to permissive of boiling fantasy contests down to a single real-world game.

How FanDuel will offer NASCAR

Apparently, FanDuel feels it found a way around the stats issue, although the game is about the same as DraftKings’. The game will not enjoy a statistics environment as rich as daily fantasy baseball or daily fantasy football, but will feature four scoring categories:

  • Each Lap Completed: +0.10 FP
  • Each Lap Led: +0.10 FP
  • Place Differential: +/- 1 FP (Start position – Finish Position)
  • Finishing Position: 43 points to 1st, 40 to 2nd, 39 to 3rd, 38 to 4th, and so on

FanDuel’s contests will lag far behind the established market at DraftKings. The latter’s top contest will guarantee $300,000 ($10 entry fee).

Online betting rises in Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa with M-Pesa … – Quartz

The growth in mobile money services has created new opportunities for merchants to sell their products and services. One of these is the fast-growing sports betting sector which has taken a number of African countries by storm.

What’s further spurred the growth is rapid internet penetration. Consumers now have easy access to online sports betting services even in remote areas. Countries like Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Uganda, Senegal, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Tanzania are seeing a huge expansion in sports betting and other forms of gambling.

 The proliferation of betting is one of the unintended consequences of the growth in mobile money services. Betting on major European soccer leagues, as well as local and national teams, has become a multimillion-dollar industry. Much of this betting is done on mobile phones with studies showing that mobile platforms are quickly becoming the preferred means of gambling.

The combined size of the gambling industry in Kenya, Nigeria, and South African is projected to be worth $37 billion in 2018. In Kenya alone, a 2017 study found that an estimated two million individuals engage in mobile-based sports betting.

The proliferation of betting is one of the unintended consequences of the growth in mobile money services which have taken off on the back of a drive for financial inclusion. Since 2014 mobile phone platforms have been fronted as the key to improving financial inclusion on the continent. But these eventualities were never what were envisaged. Yet financial inclusion remains an action point because the majority of adult Africans are unbanked.

But it’s time that government’s recognize the scale of the problem that’s been created.

Young gamblers

Supporters of mobile-based sports betting in Africa will tell you how good it’s been for the continent. They list off a number of gambling benefits including increased employment opportunities, easy money for low-income earners, tax revenue for government, and general economic growth.

What they don’t talk about is the devastating effect betting has on many of those who participate in it, more than half of whom are below the age of 35.

 It’s easy to see how mobile-based sports betting is so attractive to young people given bets of just $1 can deliver a win of $500. This is particularly problematic in Africa because the continent has the youngest population in the world. Over 420 million Africans are aged between 15 and 35. On top of this unemployment is extremely high. About 35% of Africa’s young people are unemployed. Only one out of six African youths are in gainful wage employment.

These unemployed and underemployed youths are easily stimulated by sports which is a major craze on the continent. And betting appears to offer a way out of poverty.

In this kind of environment, it’s easy to see how the value proposition of mobile-based sports betting is so attractive to young people given that bets as small as $1 can deliver a win of $500.

In Nigeria, 60 million people aged between 18 and 40 spend up to $5 million on sports betting daily. The majority are unemployed or underemployed young people who stake an average of $8.40 daily.

Consequences of mobile-based betting

The Kenya study showed that most people who engaged in mobile-based betting did so in spite of the inherent dangers.

One of the dangers is that low-earning young people often borrow money for betting. This places them in a cycle of perpetual debt. Rising debt levels compound an already dire situation – 40% of people in Africa live on less than $1.90 a day.

Despite the crushing implications of sports betting through mobile phone platforms, the practice has become an intolerable addiction across the continent. This is worrying given that betting has been recognized as a gambling disorder.

Unintended consequence

Two decades ago financial inclusion – the notion that individuals and businesses should have access to banks, credit unions and financial institutions – was heralded as the much awaited trigger for Africa’s economic growth.

Cellular phone technology enabled low-income earners, many of whom live in economically fragile and conflict-affected countries, to access financial services. And a young and highly mobile-literate populace, plus the availability of affordable mobile telephones has led to the phenomenal growth of mobile money services in countries with otherwise low bank penetration.

While this has had a positive effect on economies across the African continent, it has also had undesired effects on poor people. These run the risk of being ignored because financial inclusion is still backed by multilateral organizations, governments, central banks, and private-sector actors. It also features in seven of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

The ConversationGovernments need to recognize that, while, for the most part, financial inclusion through mobile money has had a positive impact, there have also been down sides. The exponential growth of mobile telephony has contributed to a higher betting prevalence and the rise of gambling addiction in Africa.

Victor Odundo Owuor, Senior Research Associate, University of Colorado

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Read next: Gambling addiction is on the rise in Kenya and leaving young people bankrupt and suicidal

Read next: Uganda’s youth are addicted to gambling on English soccer, now the government wants to crack down

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NBA, MLB Athletes Push For Sports Betting In Connecticut – Hartford Courant

Former New York Mets pitching great Al Leiter and former Boston Celtics superstar Cedric Maxwell traveled to the state Capitol Tuesday to push for the legalization of sports betting in Connecticut.

With a major U.S. Supreme Court decision expected in the coming weeks, legislators are preparing ahead of time so the state can move quickly if betting is legalized nationwide.

The National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball are in favor of sports betting, as long as they receive 1 percent of the total money bet. They are awaiting a ruling in a New Jersey case, Christie vs. NCAA. The two athletes came to Hartford as representatives of the professional sports leagues.

“Assuming that the Supreme Court makes sports betting legal everywhere outside of Las Vegas, there’s going to be potential issues,’’ Leiter told reporters at the Capitol. “I don’t know how it’s actually going to play out — whether brick and mortar [stores] or existing casinos or online. The more you broaden that, there’s got to be some regulation and some people watching to make sure that everything is done properly and maintain the integrity of the respective sport. … There has to be some oversight.’’

Connecticut would need to adopt regulations on exactly how the legalized betting would take place.

Top leaders, including House Majority Leader Matt Ritter of Hartford, say that the legislature needs to prepare in advance to be ready for legalized gambling.

The athletes are keenly aware about protecting the integrity of their sports.

“Every player knows the severity that if you bet on your sport, it is a death penalty,’’ Leiter said. “You know the story about Pete Rose, certainly the Black Sox and Shoeless Joe Jackson.’’

Leiter was referring to Rose, the former Cincinnati Reds superstar who had the most hits in Major League Baseball history but was blocked from the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown because he bet on baseball. Jackson was a star player on the Chicago White Sox, who was banned from baseball after allegations that he and other players had purposely lost the World Series in exchange for $5,000 each, which was a large sum in 1920.

Morgan Sword, a senior vice president for Major League Baseball, said that the Connecticut legislature is ahead of the curve on sports betting when compared to other states.

“We think Connecticut has a real chance to pass a state-of-the-art statute here that could act as a model for other states,’’ Sword told The Courant. “We’ve been very impressed with the level of expertise that these guys have on this issue.’’

Maxwell added that Connecticut has a built-in advantage over some other states.

“The casinos are here already,’’ Maxwell said. “So I think you have a basis right now for them going forward, whereas other states might not be as prepared to do that.’’

Only West Virginia has passed a law so far in anticipation of the Supreme Court ruling, officials said.

“Whether Connecticut allows sports betting is going to be up to Connecticut and the people that work in this building,’’ Sword said near the Capitol press room. “We’re here because, if they choose to move forward, we think it’s extremely important that they protect the players’, the owners’ and the sports leagues’ interests.’’

House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz of Berlin agreed with the sports officials who said that Connecticut is ahead of the curve on the issue.

“With the Supreme Court ruling coming down within the next month, we want to be in a position to take advantage of it,’’ Aresimowicz said.

Last year, the legislature passed a bill that called upon the state to start preparing regulations.

“They came back, and they said we want more guidance,’’ Aresimowicz told The Courant. “Is there going to be an online presence? Do you want it to be the lotto providers? Do you want it to be the casinos? Do you want it to be the OTBs? Do you want all of the above? Those are the questions that we’re trying to answer now.’’

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Leagues' Sport Betting 'Integrity Fee' Would Be Illegal Under IGRA, Says Tribal Gaming Expert – Casino.Org News

The NBA’s and MLB’s so-called sports betting “integrity fee” would be illegal under federal law if it were imposed on the tribal gaming sector, a prominent expert in gaming law said Friday.

NIGA chairman Ernie Stevens

NIGA chairman Ernie Stevens’s organization announced last week it had passed a resolution to safeguard Indian gaming interests should sports betting become legal across the US. While tribal operators broadly support regulation, many are concerned they will lose out to commercial operators. (Image: YouTube)

Speaking at the 2018 National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) Tradeshow & Convention in Las Vegas, Aurene Martin, president of Spirit Rock Consulting and a member of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, said the fee was problematic for a future US sports betting market in which the tribal sector would play a prominent role.

The leagues, longtime opponents to regulated sports betting in the US, have now sensed the tide is turning, with a possible SCOTUS decision on the legality of sports betting expected as early as tomorrow (April 24).

The leagues say they now support regulation, but only on their terms – a one percent cut on all bets taken on their games made payable to the NBA and MLB.

Tribal Operators Can’t Be Taxed

But critics say integrity is more effectively monitored by regulatory bodies working in partnership with regulated bookmakers themselves, who are best positioned to spot suspicious betting patterns and anomalies.

They say the integrity fee is nothing more than a tax or a royalty payment in disguise, and one that translates in real terms to a 20 to 25 percent levy on gross gaming revenues, which would strangle the market before it had a chance to take root.

Martin agrees with this definition.

“IGRA (the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988) is very clear that tribes can’t be taxed and can only have fees put upon them that they agree to, with the state, to pay for regulator activities,” she said.

“Nowhere are tribes allowed in IGRA to pay third parties this type of fee. There are real questions about whether it can be imposed on them. Tribes want to be responsible and make sure games have integrity, so I don’t know what the answer is.”

Tribes Nervous of Sports Betting

NIGA is an intertribal association comprising 184 federally recognized tribes. It announced last week that it has passed a resolution asking Congress to repeal PASPA – the federal law that prohibits sports betting in all but a handful of states – and to pass a law that would allow tribal operators to offer both land-based and online sports betting.

The motion comes as many tribes voiced their fears at the convention that they will be overlooked by if SCOTUS repeals PASPA, as it is widely tipped to do.

The motion calls for lawmakers to protect tribal operations and sovereignty should state compacts have to be rewritten to accommodate sports betting. It asks that wagering operations, online and off, are not taxed by states that choose to regulate sports betting, in line with the spirit of IGRA.

Stars Group Builds Sports-Betting Muscle with $4.7 Billion Deal … – Bloomberg

Stars Group Inc.’s $4.7-billion purchase of Sky Betting & Gaming turns the online poker giant into a major sports-betting player that could use its strong foothold in Europe to cross the Atlantic if the U.S. market fully opens.

The Toronto-based operator of PokerStars, which announced the cash-and-stock deal with CVC Capital Partners and Sky Plc on Saturday, is set to win a significant foothold in the U.K. — the largest regulated gaming market. Sky Betting & Gaming, or SBG, is growing rapidly in online casino games and sports at home and recently expanded to Italy and Germany.

If an upcoming Supreme Court decision in the U.S. allows sports betting in more states, it would be the “icing on the cake” for the combined companies, according to Simon Holliday, founder of the research firm H2 Gambling Capital.

“The US sportsbetting Supreme Court case is obviously a big part of the potential upside, with Star’s old database, SBG’s strengths and their track record solely in the U.K.,” Holliday wrote in an email. “Even without the U.S., SBG is just starting to launch in other regulated markets.”

Betting on sports in some form is legal in four U.S. states. That could change as the Supreme Court weighs New Jersey’s attempt to have a 1992 law banning sports betting beyond those states struck down as unconstitutional. If the court agrees, it could trigger a wave of states legalizing betting on football, basketball and other competitions.

From Poker King to Gaming Giant

Stars Group’s M&A push decreases reliance on poker

Source: Stars Group

The acquisition, which follows a failed attempt to take control of Sky-rival William Hill Plc in 2016, helps accelerate Chief Executive Officer Rafi Ashkenazi’s strategy to decrease reliance on the unstable and stagnant poker business, which accounted for two-thirds of its revenue last year.

Of $49.8 billion in gross winnings from interactive gambling last year, $25 billion came from betting on sports and racing, $13 billion from casinos and $3 billion from poker, according to H2.

The deal also provides Stars Group with a trove of potential new customers for its own online casino and poker offerings. SBG’s strengths include technology and marketing, according to H2’s Holliday, who says the company went from the seventh or eighth-largest operator in the U.K. in 2011 to the third largest last year.

“The strategic fit is very good, the valuation is reasonable for a fast-growing company,” said Simon Davies, an analyst at Canaccord Genuity in London.

The agreement calls on Stars Group to pay $3.6 billion and approximately 37.9 million newly issued common shares based on the closing price of its common stock on April 20. Stars Group said it has obtained debt financing of approximately $6.9 billion, including $5.1 billion of first lien term loans, $1.4 billion of senior unsecured notes and a $400 million revolving credit facility.

Proceeds will be used for the cash portion of the deal, as well as to refinance the company’s existing first lien term loan and repay SBG’s outstanding debt, it said.

Sky Takeover

Private equity firm CVC agreed to acquire a controlling stake in Sky Betting from Rupert Murdoch’s Sky in 2014. Canaccord’s Davies says the betting company, which gets more than 80 percent of its revenue from mobile devices, “has performed spectacularly” despite concerns of a tighter regulatory environment in the U.K.

The deal will also bring Sky a cash infusion while it is being targeted for takeover by both 21st Century Fox Inc. and Comcast Corp. While Fox awaits a U.K. regulatory decision on its bid, Comcast is preparing to formalize its own offer after making a preliminary one at a premium to Fox’s, setting the stage for a bidding war.

The agreement follows a move last month by Stars Group to take a bigger slice of Australia’s CrownBet Holdings Ltd., which subsequently bought the Australian unit of William Hill.

Ashkenazi signaled last year that he’d be on the hunt for targets after focusing on paying down debt from the 2014, $4.9 billion acquisition of PokerStars that made the company, then called Amaya, the world’s largest online poker business. Ashkenazi took over the top job from founder David Baazov — who resigned in August 2016 to fight insider-trading charges — and built up a new management team.

“Sky Betting & Gaming’s premier sports betting product is the ideal complement to our industry-leading poker platform,” Ashkenazi said, calling the agreement “a landmark moment” for Stars Group.

Morgan Stanley and PJT Partners Inc. acted as financial advisers to Stars Group, while Deutsche Bank AG, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Macquarie Group Ltd. and Morgan Stanley provided the committed debt financing.

— With assistance by Rebecca Penty, Kenneth Pringle, Benjamin D Katz, and Saijel Kishan

Stars Group Goes Big On Sports Betting, Acquires Sky Bet For $4.7 Billion –

Stars Group Sky Bet

This is a developing story and will be updated.

The Stars Group announced on Saturday morning that it had acquired UK-focused Sky Betting & Gaming in a cash and stock deal worth $4.7 billion.

The Stars Group + Sky Bet

With that, the parent company of online poker giant PokerStars made its intentions to be a major part of the international sports betting market known loudly. In a press release, Stars Group said that the deal would result in creating the “world’s largest publicly listed online gaming company.”

The deal is almost as big as the one in which Amaya — the former name of Canadian-based Stars Group — acquired PokerStars in 2014, for $4.9 billion.

The Stars Group’s meat and potatoes is online poker, and this will diversity its offering, s the company noted:

The development of sports betting as a second low-cost customer acquisition channel, complementing The Stars Group’s core poker business and enabling more effective cross-sell to players across multiple verticals.

The deal is expected to close in the third quarter of 2018. Previously, Sky Betting had been preparing for a public listing.

TSG also said the deal “identified cost synergies of at least $70 million per year.”

Ready for the US?

It’s also likely a move to position the Stars Group for further entry into the prospective market for online gambling and sports wagering in the US. A number of states have legalized wagering should New Jersey prevail in its case in the US Supreme Court case dealing with the federal ban on single-game wagering. PokerStars already serves NJ as an online poker and casino operator.

It will also allow Stars Group to offer a compelling poker, online casino and sportsbook in parallel in a state like Pennsylvania, which has legalized all three (pending the Supreme Court decision).

What they said about the deal

“The acquisition of Sky Betting & Gaming is a landmark moment in The Stars Group’s history,” stated Rafi Ashkenazi, the Company’s Chief Executive Officer. “SBG operates one of the world’s fastest growing sportsbooks and is one of the United Kingdom’s leading gaming providers. SBG’s premier sports betting product is the ideal complement to our industry-leading poker platform. The ability to offer two low-cost acquisition channels of this magnitude provides The Stars Group with great growth potential and will significantly increase our ability to create winning moments for our customers.”

“We are delighted to join forces with The Stars Group,” said Richard Flint, Sky Betting & Gaming’s Chief Executive Officer. “We have had a fantastic last few years and would like to thank CVC and Sky for supporting us in becoming a leading online operator in the UK. This transaction allows us to offer our best-in-class products to a truly global audience. We’re excited about our future together.”

What’s it all mean?

Suffice it to say, this is a major deal for the gambling sector generally and for the UK market in particular.

“SBG is one of the most attractive assets in the sector right now and the deal is genuinely transformational for Stars Group and gives it immediate scale and expertise in sports betting as well as adding a large chunk of revenues to its casino business,” said Alun Bowden, a senior consultant for Eilers & Krejcik Gaming. “SBG has around 12 percent of market share in the UK and the deal will makes the combined group one of the largest operators in the UK market alongside Paddy Power Betfair and GVC.

“But it’s what it does for non-UK revenues that is the most interesting. SBG has been 100 percent UK for most of its existence and only recently moved into the regulated Italian and quasi-regulated German sports betting market where it can utilize the brand strength of Sky. We wouldn’t expect the Sky Bet brand to be used in many of TSG’s international markets, but the product, technology and expertise could be a huge boost to TSG’s sportsbook ambitions.”

PokerStars already was in sports betting, but has had bigger aspirations

This is hardly the first time PokerStars has tried to increase its presence in the sports betting market:

  • It launched its own in-house product called BetStars in 2016.
  • Sports betting giant William Hill and Amaya once flirted with a merger.
  • Just last month Stars Group bought controlling interesting in Australian sports betting operator CrownBet.