With the path now cleared for legal sports betting, Rush Street Interactive is merging into the fast lane.

The online gambling platform has entered into a multi-year agreement with Kambi Group to integrate Kambi’s sports betting services into its casinos in Pennsylvania and elsewhere as well as at an NJ gambling site.

SCOTUS ruling leads to agreement

Last week, the US Supreme Court cleared the way for such an agreement to take hold. The high court struck down the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA), making it possible for state-regulated sports betting to kick into gear.

At the forefront of that fight, of course, was New Jersey, which had passed legislation prior to the court battle to legalize sports gambling. Now that PASPA has been lifted, casinos and sportsbooks are pairing off. The latest marriage: Rush Street Interactive and Kambi Group.

Kambi has been growing globally in the gaming market. The Malta-based company has almost 20 partnerships with gaming platforms across six continents. With sportsbook giants such as William Hill sliding in on the sports betting action in the US, Kambi saw an opportunity to get a seat at the table.

“Kambi has long kept a close eye on the U.S. market, carefully building a business and technology to suit the likely state-by-state regulation of sports betting, as well as meet the requirements stakeholders have for a safe and secure sportsbook,” said company chief executive Kristian Nylen.

“This agreement with Rush Street Interactive, one of the most respected and innovative gaming companies in the U.S., is recognition that Kambi not only has online premium sports betting services ready to appeal to American sports enthusiasts but those which will help protect the integrity of sports.”

With this partnership, Kambi gains entry to the US market, and Rush Street has its sportsbook for its Sugarhouse casino in Philadelphia and its properties in New York and Illinois.

But this also includes PlaySugarHouse NJ online casino, which operates under Golden Nugget’s NJ online gambling license. It would likely be a test case for online sports bets once regulations are in place.

This is just the latest of many more steps for New Jersey

Even before the high court’s ruling last week, casinos and sportsbooks were setting up partnerships. It was a way for the sports betting industry to hit the ground running when — not if — the US Supreme Court struck down PASPA.

Monmouth Park, for example, opened a sports bar in 2013. For the past few months, plans have been in place for it to be remodeled into a $5 million, Las Vegas-style William Hill Sportsbook. And Borgata announced in November 2017 that it would be constructing a sportsbook once sports betting was legalized.

Even incoming Ocean Resort Casino, set to open June 28, is planning to offer online and in-house sports wagering once the casino opens its doors.

Its 7,500-square-foot sportsbook would sit smack dab in the middle of the casino floor. The resort’s CEO, Frank Leone, said the casino has partnered with a “global sportsbook leader” but did not divulge any more information on what company that is.

“We believe we’re well positioned having been working in anticipation of this outcome,” said Leone. “And we fully intend to offer a best-in-class sports betting experience in a high-energy, highly engaging environment.”

A proposed bill in the NJ Senate, however, could prevent some casino operators from offering sports betting.

The legislation would affect team owners who also own casinos, such as:

  • MGM Resorts, the owner of the Las Vegas Aces of the WNBA
  • Caesars, owned by Apollo Capital Management, which was co-founded by Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils owner Joshua Harris
  • Golden Nugget, the owner of the Houston Rockets)

Trickle-down would affect Borgata, which is owned by MGM, as well as Golden Nugget- and Caesars-branded properties in Atlantic City. Of course, this is only proposed legislation.

MGM recently issued a statement saying that it is “working closely with New Jersey legislators to authorize a regulated sports wagering marketplace.”

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NJ sports betting = high hopes

After fighting for years to legalize sports betting in New Jersey, the Garden State is determined to monopolize the industry right away. Atlantic City alone is marketing itself as an “entertainment resort destination” now more than ever since the path is cleared for sports wagering.

In an interview with the Press of Atlantic City, Robert Ambrose, a gaming consultant and adjunct professor of casino management at Fairleigh Dickinson University, had high hopes for the industry:

“The addition of sports betting will be another market driver encouraging longer visits to the city and increasing more customer secondary spending.”

Atlantic City slogged through one of its more difficult economic eras recently, during which casinos closed and tourism and visitation dwindled. The Boardwalk, however, is ready to be reinvigorated.

Grant Lucas

About

Grant Lucas is a longtime sportswriter who has covered the high school, collegiate, and professional levels. A graduate of Linfield College in McMinnville, Grant has covered games and written features and columns surrounding prep sports, Linfield, and Oregon State athletics and the Portland Trail Blazers throughout his career.