International online gaming giant Paddy Power Betfair Plc says it is ready to strike if and when sports betting is legalized in the United States. Paddy Power CEO of US operations Kip Levin confirmed in an interview with Bloomberg this week that the company is ready to launch a TV channel dedicated to sports betting if the legal situation in the United States changes.
Paddy Power Betfair has already established a foothold in the US market via Betfair Casino and Betfair Exchange in New Jersey. Last year, Paddy Power Betfair acquired Draft.com to make its first entry into the US daily fantasy sports market. In addition to all of that, Paddy Power owns and operates horse racing website / TV channel TVG.
TVG is the largest (and basically only mainstream) TV channel dedicated entirely to horse racing. Available in 45 million homes in the US, TVG delivers horse racing betting content and can even assist customers in placing bets on horse races. Meanwhile, TVG.com handles online horse racing wagers from customers in most US states.
Kip Levin told Bloomberg on Monday that Paddy Power Betfair is ready to launch a sports betting TV channel if and when a Supreme Court decision or act of Congress renders the federal sports betting prohibition dead.
According to the Bloomberg piece, Paddy Power Betfair has plenty of room in the building that currently holds its TVG studio in LA. If the Supreme Court strikes down the federal sports betting prohibition as unconstitutional, Paddy Power Betfair is ready to build a new studio dedicated to betting on football, baseball, soccer and other sports in addition to possibly converting some of its TVG lineups to cover additional sports beyond horse racing.
Paddy Power Betfair has been making inroads in the US market for several years now, but this is the first look the company has given at some of its bigger plans. It’s not secret the US sports betting market could potentially be worth billions, with established casinos standing to benefit the most if that happens.
US and International Operators Eyeing the Market
European operators such as Paddy Power Betfair are keen to establish a base of operations in the US even if doing so is expensive over the short term. Paddy Power Betfair lost money on its fantasy and exchange wagering websites in 2017 and expects to do so again in 2018. Compared to the $140 million Paddy Power Betfair reported in the US thanks to its TVG operations and BetfairCasino.com in New Jersey, it is a small price to pay for a shot at a potential US-legal sports betting market.
Paddy Power Betfair put it this way in a recent financial report (page 5):
“While our existing businesses are attractive in their own right, they also position the Group well if positive regulatory change results in the market opening for sports betting. In light of this, we are considering the appropriate way that we would participate in the market.”
Other operators eyeing the market include William Hill US with 100+ sportsbooks and a mobile sports betting app in Nevada, PokerStars with operations in New Jersey and its own fantasy site at StarsDraft, and GVC Holdings also with operations in New Jersey.
That’s not to mention a horde of US-based operations that are also ready to jump on the opportunity if it presents itself. Land-based casinos across the US have been involved in legislation negotiations at the state level while DraftKings has been making moves of its own to prepare for the eventuality of sports betting.
Although sentiment seems to be that the Supreme Court is likely to rule in favor of New Jersey, there are no guarantees that SCOTUS will rule in a way that repeals the federal sports betting prohibition. In that case, any possibility of expanding sports betting would rely on Congress taking action to repeal the federal prohibition.