April 4, 2024Lauren

Get all the latest online casino and sports betting news from the USA in edition 175 of the Casino Cabbie weekly digest. This week:

- North Carolina bettors spend almost $200m in the first seven days of legal betting
- Hard Rock Digital buys 888’s US operations
- Will New Jersey doubles internet gambling taxes for operators
- Evolution goes live at online casinos in Delaware (all three of them)
- The NCAA urges state governments to ban prop bets on college games
- Nevada’s gambling revenue hit $1.34b in February 2024
- And Georgia’s sports betting bill fails to pass before its legislative deadline

North Carolina: Bettory Spend Almost $200m in First 7-Days Betting 

The stats are in from The North Carolina State Lottery Commission, and its official bettors spent a massive ​​$198m in the first week of sports betting, which kicked off on March 11th. Of the $198m, $142m was returned in winnings, and $43m was gross profit. The state collects an 18% tax on operator revenue. 

The market in North Carolina is off to a roaring start, with eight platforms launching in time for March Madness, which began on March 12th. From noon on the 11th to the 13th, Geocomply recorded a staggering 5.4 million checks from 370,000 accounts in just two days. This is roughly 3.5% of North Carolina's population of 10.8m. 

Hard Rock Buys 888 US

888 Holdings has agreed to sell certain US assets to Hard Rock Digital this week after assessing its US operations. Details are thin on the ground, including the specifics of which assets they have agreed to sell and for how much. What we do know is that the acquisition will occur in phases and is expected to be finalized in Q4 of 2024.

Following in the footsteps of PointsBet, Wynn Interactive, and other operators who have struggled to break the US market, 888 (once Delaware's sole iGaming provider) conducted a strategic review of its US operations last month, which considered both full and partial sales alongside other options. 

When the review was announced, the official press release read, "888 is active in four states, with SI Sportsbook and SI Casino in Michigan, SI Sportsbook in Colorado and Virginia and 888casino in New Jersey. The gross profit margin in the US is lower than the group level, reflecting significant direct costs of operating in the market, including duties, market access fees, and license fees, in addition to intense competition from well-capitalised incumbent participants." (cue market leaders DraftKings, FanDuel, and BetMGM).

Per Widerström, CEO of 888, added: "In the US, the intensity of competition and requirement for scale means huge investment is required to reach profitability."

The US market has often been cited as the new gambling gold rush. Still, with varying licensing regimes, high tax rates, considerable brand recognition and loyalty rates, and covering vast territories (physical and political), it's also proved more challenging than many operators first imagined.

New Jersey Tax Hike for Online Casinos?

Speaking of more challenging operating environments, legislators in New Jersey are considering a tax hike in one of the hottest iGaming markets in the USA. Bill S3064, introduced by Senator John McKeon, seeks to double NJ online casino and sports betting revenue taxes from 15% and 13%, respectively, to 30%.

In 2023, gambling industry taxes accounted for $414 million, but as one of the earliest adopters of internet wagering, New Jersey has some of the lowest tax rates in the US. It's now argued that leveling these out should defuse arguments on regional competitiveness (New York's rate is 51% and Pennsylvania's 36%). The Casino Association of New Jersey strongly opposes the bill.

Evolution Goes to Delaware

Evolution Gaming and Rush Street Gaming have struck a new deal that sees Evolution games live at online casinos in Delaware. Under the agreement, Delaware players can access top NetEnt, Reg Tiger, and Big Time Gaming slots at Delaware Park, Harrington, or Bally online casinos.

Evolution's CEO for North America, Jacob Claesson, commented, "Going live in Delaware is a great milestone for Evolution. It is our sixth US state and further solidifies our place as the market leader in online gaming.

"We are excited to partner with Rush Street Interactive, one of the most respected online gaming companies in the US, to bring online games to BetRivers players in Delaware."

NCAA Wants All Prop Bets Banned 

Prop betting is one of the most popular sports betting products after live betting markets. However, there's one place where it's not popular, and that's with the National College Athletics Association, which is seeking to ban prop betting on collegiate games across the country.

NCAA News Release

Prop betting involves betting on specific stats that can increase or decrease during a game. In basketball, we're talking over/unders on points scored by a player, how many rebounds a player gets, the number of three-pointers, and so on.

Prop bets on collegiate games are problematic because an NCAA survey conducted last year revealed worrying stats regarding intimidation and betting on campuses. Due to their age, inexperience, and lack of pay, collegiate athletes are more vulnerable to intimidation, and due to the nature of prop bets, they are easier to influence than, say, the overall game outcome. 

Since publishing the survey results, the NCAA has been campaigning for more protections for athletes and coaches, restrictions on prop betting, and launched an education campaign for students.

Colorado, Arizona, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, and Oregon already banned prop bets, while Ohio, Vermont, and Maryland joined the ranks this year and removed prop bets on college athletes and games. The NCAA is now working with legislators across the US to raise awareness of the issue. According to NCAA President Charlie Baker, many states respond by banning prop bets on college games.

Other News:

  • Nevada gambling revenue was up to $1.34b in Feb 2024 -  +8.5% year on year and +4.7% on Jan 2024's figures. Slots accounted for the most revenue.
  • Georgia's sports betting efforts failed as this year's legislative session is closed, killing the bill.
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