Charlie Ebersol is likely lethal at the tables.
Give legendary TV executive Dick Ebersol’s son and Alliance of American Football (AAF) co-founder credit – the guy can keep a mean poker face when necessary. He set that tone right from Day 1 where his fledgling spring football league is concerned, blindsiding the sports world — including the returning XFL, which the younger Ebersol had ironically just directed an ESPN “30 for 30” documentary about — when he suddenly announced the AAF’s existence in March.
AAF, MGM announce unprecedented working relationship
The ensuing months brought an impressive slew of coaching hires that included several prominent names. Just as important, the league came out of the gates already in possession of a television deal with CBS Sports Network, including an agreement for CBS to show both its inaugural and championship games on its main channel. And, Ebersol also hinted at the league’s desire to have an “integrated fantasy experience” that users could engage in while watching AAF games.
At the time, we openly speculated the AAF was developing an in-game fantasy platform, a version of the popular pastime that is a relatively close cousin to prop betting. And since we were already reading the tea leaves, we also threw out the possibility/theory that the AAF eventually cozying up to the new legalized sports betting landscape certainly wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world.
Lo and behold, Monday brought the news that the AAF is doing just that. And like many other aspects of its ongoing development, the league’s latest announcement came about rather unexpectedly:
ESPN’s Darren Rovell provided a number of interesting nuggets about the league’s plans with respect to sports betting, including:
- MGM has signed on to serve as the league’s exclusive in-game gambling partner for the first three seasons.
- The AAF will provide free live streaming of its games on its proprietary app, and fans in states with legalized online wagering will be able to place a wide array of in-game bets as those contests unfold.
- How the odds for those wagers are calculated will be unique — the league will outfit all players with wearable technology that will generate data vital to MGM’s oddsmakers as the game progresses.
- Not only will the data drive in-game lines, it will reportedly be bettable as well. In other words, expect to be able to plunk down some cash on how fast (or plodding) Birmingham’s Trent Richardson is on his next carry, for example.
- And in what likely qualifies as the most eyebrow-raising news in a collection of intriguing details — the more a player’s props are bet on, the more cash he’ll earn above that which is stipulated in his contract.
League not shying away from potential blowback, controversy
There’s plenty to unpack in what qualifies as the first-of-its-kind exclusive in-game betting rights deal between a sports league and a gaming entity.
For example, the use of data stemming from the wearable technology could be a point of contention from other leagues’ players’ unions, considering they’ve already preemptively expressed opposition in general about its use in such a context. Although, with no such entity currently existing in the AAF, that would only amount to pointed criticism for the time being.
This much is clear — the AAF is not pussyfooting around the “gambling” conversation.
Instead, it’s unapologetically integrating it into its very fabric, literally and figuratively. And while skepticism may abound — especially with respect to the player salary tie-in — certain aspects of this deal could serve as an important precedent for how pro sports leagues and sports betting come to coexist.
AAF’s approach markedly, refreshingly different
The AAF’s full embrace of gambling is notable from one other standpoint — the contrast it represents from the problematic, complicated relationship other professional leagues have historically had (and continue to have, for that matter) with sports betting.
The NBA has been markedly more progressive than its counterparts in certain aspects of its approach. The latest evidence of such is its own newly-minted three-year deal with MGM, one which calls for the latter to serve as the league’s “exclusive gaming partner” and use official NBA and WNBA data in its “land-based and digital sports betting offerings.”
However, the likes of the NFL, NHL and MLB mostly remain testy and apprehensive about the subject for a number of reasons, including:
- Public image, to an extent.
- Game-integrity concerns.
- A lack of integrity fees they insist are necessary to manage those concerns (the NBA remains in line with the other leagues on this front).
Meanwhile, the AAF looks set for a full-blown whirlwind romance with sports betting. We’re talking wine-and-dine, rose-petals-on-the-floor, Netflix-and-chill level. And it’s a bold but prudent move at that. After all, if you’re going to try and succeed where so many others have failed, you’ve probably got to roll the proverbial dice in certain spots.
In that sense, attaching yourself to a product with encouraging early returns, plenty of growth potential and a well-earned reputation as a proven fan engagement magnet isn’t a bad bet at all.
This past weekend, PayPal secured a partnership with DraftKings Sportsbook as a payment provider. The deal allows DraftKings to keep abreast with its rivals in the burgeoning US sports betting market.
As it stands, PayPal now has deals with five of the seven online sportsbooks in New Jersey. 888 Sport just joined the party in the Garden State on Monday, and PayPal is one of its deposit options. But despite the deals with PayPal, getting money on and off online betting sites isn’t as seamless as gamblers and operators would like.
An issue in America
PayPal finds itself in a very tight competition for the American deposit fee in sports betting. American banks have made depositing into gambling websites a tricky proposition for many bettors, particularly when it comes to credit cards.
In fact, according to Legal Sports Report, credit card decline rates have never dropped below 50 percent since New Jersey launched online gambling. Still, even with so many credit cards unable to deposit, New Jersey residents put money online with credit cards 20 percent of the time.
According to Eilers and Krejcik, the vast majority of deposits occur via eCheck or prepaid cards. Electronic wallets like PayPal only account for 5 percent of deposits. However, the revenue is so large that payment processors can’t afford to ignore the market.
So, what are the options?
Most New Jersey online sportsbooks offer several types of deposit options — and some options within those types. Here are those options, with examples of each:
- Dedicated prepaid card
- Credit card
- PayNearMe (service through 7-Eleven)
- Online banking
- Wire transfer
- Online bill pay
- Other (cash at land-based casino cages)
With that in mind, here’s what each New Jersey online sportsbook accepts. Bear in mind that this list can change at any time – check with the individual sites for confirmation.
|Online Sportsbook||Credit Card||eCheck||Prepaid Card||eWallet||PayNearMe||Online Banking||Other|
|William Hill||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||No||In-person at sportsbooks|
The only other spot in America that has any kind of mobile sports betting is Nevada. West Virginia can offer mobile betting, but is not ready to do so yet. Here’s a list of the mobile sports betting apps in Nevada:
- Superbook (Westgate)
- playMGM (MGM Resorts International)
- STN Sports (Station Casinos)
- B-Connected Sports (Boyd)
- Golden Nugget
- Treasure Island
- William Hill
- South Point
- Atlantis Reno
However, Nevada’s foray into online sports betting is a bit quirky. All of its online betting occurs through apps alone — no websites exist.
Furthermore, every app is intimately tied to an existing land-based sportsbook. Play on those apps is supposed to be a mere extension of playing in the live book itself.
That focus carries over to the deposit options in Nevada. The only universal deposit method is an in-person deposit at the app’s home sportsbook.
Other than that, options are a bit scarce. Three casinos – Westgate, Station Casinos, and MGM Resorts – offer debit cards that can accept credit cards, other debit cards, or electronic fund transfers.
Aside from that, the only other option is using PayNearMe for a William Hill deposit. PayNearMe is a bill pay service that operates through 7 – Eleven, of all places. Players can also deposit cash directly into William Hill self-service kiosks.
The defining characteristic of European sportsbook banking is the variety of options. The differences in currency and banking practices mean that European sportsbooks must have at least one option for every country.
Take 888 Sport, for example. A quick count of its payment methods reveals that there are 38 different ways a bettor could put money on the site.
Not every one of these works for everyone, though. Some of them are specific down to a country, such as Multibanco (Portugal) or Verkkopankki (Sweden).
Even William Hill, which is the top sportsbook operator in Nevada, offers more options overseas. It’s simply the nature of the beast.
However, with that increased flexibility comes increased complexity. Navigating the various legal situations on the European continent means that entire armies of people have to work to ensure compliance. One saving grace about the American situation is its existence under one, albeit annoying, law.
If those don’t work…
In terms of online depositing in America, there are a couple of options that you might want to consider. Some of these other methods have significant drawbacks, like fees or compliance issues, that make the process more onerous than necessary.
So, the first recommendation is Neteller. Neteller has worked in the payment business since 1999. It is also virtually universal in the American market. Its fees are fairly low, and there’s little to no concern about security.
The other recommended option if PayPal and Neteller aren’t available is a prepaid debit card. Other than that, there’s no substitute for depositing cash at the cage. If you don’t mind the inconvenience, there’s no question that the deposit will go through.
It’s simply a matter of choosing the right option for you.
Downtown Las Vegas received some big sports betting news last week, as D Las Vegas President and CEO Derek Stevens announced new forthcoming sportsbooks for the Fremont Street area.
Stevens will introduce three new sportsbook and entertainment venues throughout his downtown Vegas properties. The Golden Gate Hotel & Casino will serve as a prototype for the new developments, which will feature a multi-level venue and stadium-style seating. The Golden Gate is also expected to feature the largest single screen television in the city and numerous other HD screens and personalized customer service kiosks. The company is also developing a mobile sports app to complement the entire project.
“The State of Nevada, and specifically Las Vegas, has always been the hub for sports wagering in the United States and with the recent Supreme Court ruling, we believe sports wagering will accelerate tremendously,” Stevens says.
The book is expected to open in the third quarter of 2019.
Major downtown projects
After the Golden Gate facility is complete, sports venues will also be built at the new 18 Fremont project and then at the D Las Vegas, which serve as the hub for the sportsbook. 18 Fremont is a working name using the new property’s address.
“It’s something that we’ve always wanted to do,” Stevens told TheLines about entering the market. “But when we just had the Golden Gate and the D, we never thought we had a base big enough to justify getting into the business. Now that we’re building our third hotel casino, we need to be in the sportsbook business.”
Opening the first two books before adding a facility at the D will allow the company to perfect its system and service to customers before building at its signature property, Stevens said. The company is taking sports betting seriously. The book won’t be outsourced to another company like William Hill. It will instead be an in-house project.
Also, Stevens hired longtime Vegas industry veteran Matthew Metcalf as sports director. He previously worked at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, where he helped build it into one of the best sports betting scenes in the country. What can gamblers expect from the new sportsbooks that they can’t find elsewhere? Beyond unique design elements, Stevens directs this question to another interesting aspect and how it benefits gamblers.
“One thing that’s terrific is you’ve got a great ability to line shop because only 100 feet away you’ll have a William Hill over at the Plaza, and then you have an independent sports book at the Golden Nugget,” Steven says. “Even within just a couple hundred feet, you can line shop and get some pretty good value. It’s a great place to bet sports in Las Vegas.”
Along with the three sports facilities, Stevens’ company will be building a new studio for VSiN (Vegas Stats and Information Network) at its 18 Fremont property. The network launched in February 2017 from studios at South Point Hotel Casino with Brent Musburger as a lead voice.
The network broadcasts on Sirius-XM Radio and its website, and was the first network built exclusively catering to sports bettors.
Stevens, who also purchased a 10 percent interest in the network, said the network will continue to broadcast from South Point. The new studio will allow VSiN another option for programming and allow bettors to check out the in-depth news, analysis, and statistics from some of its experts first-hand. Fans and visitors will be able to watch and interact during live broadcasts. He also said the network has plans to open a studio in Atlantic City in the future as well.
Network officials were pleased to be partnering with Stevens.
“Since launching VSiN, one of the things I’m most proud of is the people we’ve been able to partner with to help grow this business,” CEO Brian Musburger said. “We’re thrilled to partner with another of this industry’s most successful luminaries, and honored to be involved in the 18 Fremont project. The VSiN team is looking forward to delivering the news and analysis sports bettors need to win – both here in Vegas and around the country.”
The 18 Freemont project will be the third addition in an effort to revitalize downtown Vegas. That began with the opening of D Las Vegas in 2012. The property was formerly Fitzgerald’s and underwent a $22 million renovation to give it a more modern feel. A few years earlier, Stevens took over the Golden Gate and completed a major renovation in 2012. The property also received its first major expansion in 2017 by adding the property next door, formerly La Bayou casino.
The 18 Freemont project is a new casino being built at the former location of the Las Vegas Club. Stevens purchased the land in 2015 to continue his vision of revitalizing the west side of the Fremont Street Experience. It will be downtown’s first casino to be built from the ground up in decades.
So far, the new resort and the sportsbooks are without official names, but Stevens’ company is expected to announce those in October. Beyond the new sportsbook and VSiN studio, Stevens said there weren’t many specifics he could unveil quite yet.
With three properties, Stevens’ company will have a major stamp on downtown – an area that wasn’t too attractive to many visitors even only a decade ago. In recent years, however, the area has taken on a hip new vibe with revitalized properties like the D, Golden Gate, Plaza, and Golden Nugget as well as new restaurants and bars, the Fremont Street Experience, and the SlotZilla zip line attraction bringing more visitors to “old Vegas.”
And as more head downtown, Stevens is betting many of them are sports fans – and looking to wager in the new offerings. Stevens adds this about his new vision: “It’ll definitely be something worth seeing.”