Esports Entertainment Group Inches Closer To NJ Betting Finish Line

Esports Entertainment Group’s application to be licensed in NJ has been accepted, clearing the way for approval and potential 2021 launch.

Esports Entertainment Group hopes to be offering legal betting on competitive video games by the end of 2021.

The NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement notified EEG’s parent company just before Memorial Day weekend that its application to be a licensed gambling operator in the Garden State had been accepted, according to a news release.

EEG can now submit its software to the DGE testing lab and apply for a transactional waiver.

EEG expects to complete this process and to be taking bets in NJ by summer or fall.

Grant Johnson, CEO of EEG, called it “ a major step,” for the company’s US growth strategy.

“Securing access to what is currently the largest market for sports betting in the US is very exciting,” he said.

EEG bullish on NJ’s appetite for esports betting

EEG, a Malta-based gaming operator, is eying a piece of NJ’s iGaming and sports betting action.

As the company’s name suggests, EEG is also looking to be among the forerunners of esports betting in NJ.

Esports gambling is legal in NJ, but only on a case-by-case basis. State lawmakers are in the process of passing legislation that would permanently allow sports betting operators in NJ to offer electronic sports wagering. The General Assembly already passed the bill and it is now awaiting a vote in the Senate.

“According to a study from data firm Interpret, over 50% of U.S. esports fans said they are likely to engage in esports betting so we are confident that demand will be strong,” said Johnson.

Video games and casino are at a ‘crossroads’

Esports, or competitive video gaming, appeals to a younger audience. Needless to say, gambling companies are always on the lookout for new customers.

“We’re at a crossroads of esports and the gambling world,” said Ari Fox, producer of Gamacon & Casino Esports Conference, during a 2019 gambling convention in Atlantic City.

To drive home the point, Fox added:

“These two industries (casino gaming and esports) have to collide because the casino industry is beginning to lose the generation that plays table games.”

EEG and Bally’s Corp., the parent company of Bally’s Atlantic City, entered into a multi-year agreement in 2020.

‘Next big thing’ is at NJ’s doorstep

Proponents of electronic sports wagering point to its growing popularity.

“I would say esports are the ‘next big thing’ when it comes to sporting events,” said NJ Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, “but the fact of the matter is that video game tournaments are already a prominent form of skill-based competition.

Caputo is a sponsor of the esports betting bill and a former Atlantic City casino executive. The “time is right for New Jersey to expand legal wagering beyond traditional sports,” he said.

NJDGE Director David Rebuck weighed in last summer, too, saying:
“… Allowing betting on esports not only provides more variety for sports wagering enthusiasts but also makes New Jersey more attractive to the innovative companies that drive this growing industry.”

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Hard Rock Atlantic City Making $20 Million In Capital Improvements

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino is joining the Atlantic City reinvestment parade pledging to spend a minimum of $20 million on capital improvements.

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino is joining the Atlantic City reinvestment parade, even as the coronavirus pandemic continues to disrupt business for the seaside resort’s nine gambling parlors.

On Monday, Hard Rock said it will spend a minimum of $20 million on capital improvements. Planned projects include suite renovations, a Boardwalk Starbucks, additional slots and table games, a new dining outlet, and updated beachfront amenities.

“The commitment of these capital dollars from our ownership proves their devotion to enhancing our guest experience, along with the revitalization of Atlantic City and our property which opened after a $500 million renovation less than three years ago,” said Joe Lupo, president of Hard Rock Atlantic City.

Hard Rock details $20 million spending plan

According to a news release, the majority of Hard Rock’s investment will go towards renovating 66 Celebrity and 25 Roxy suites. Additionally, all standard hotel rooms are getting new flatscreen TV monitors and LED lighting.

The new Starbucks is located with Boardwalk access adjacent to the Hard Rock Cafe. The Starbucks will open in late May.

Details for a new dining concept will be announced soon. Whatever surprise is in store will be opening this summer, the casino said.

In concert with this year’s U.S. Army Corps of Engineers beach replenishment project in Atlantic City, Hard Rock will be expanding its Beach Bar. More than 1,000 beach chairs and restrooms will be added to the popular summer spot.

New games will be coming to the Asian and High Limit areas, and the main casino floor.

Finally, Hard Rock will be making programming and sound enhancements to both Hard Rock Live at Etess Arena and Sound Waves. Other improvements will be made to the resort’s meeting/convention spaces and the indoor pool.

Atlantic City casino reinvestment is all the rage in 2021

The multi-million dollar pledge by Hard Rock is the latest in a string of reinvestment announcements at Atlantic City casinos.

The spending spree by AC casinos is a positive sign by an industry still reeling from one of the worst financial years in history. Collectively, AC casino industry profits were down more than 80% in 2020 due to COVID-19 and the ensuing business constraints.

Despite that, AC casino operators are spending big in 2021 and beyond.
Caesars Entertainment, the parent company of three Atlantic City properties, plans to invest $400 million by 2023, including $170 million this year.

Bally’s Atlantic City has earmarked $90 million for upgrades over the next five years.

Ocean Casino Resort just announced a $15 million investment and a new ownership partner. Resorts Casino Hotel and Borgata Casino Hotel & Spa are both close to debuting new dining concepts this spring.

Hard Rock AC will continue to ‘evolve and improve’

Since AC’s casinos reopened last summer, Hard Rock has been a standout performer in the market.

Hard Rock closed out 2020 with a strong fourth quarter. It reported a market-leading 39% increase in year-over-year gross operating profits.

Hard Rock has also posted the largest year-over-year casino win increase in the Atlantic City market for the past five consecutive months.

The casino also took care of its out-of-work employees in 2020. Hard Rock covered health insurance benefits and gave out grocery store gift cards to team members.

When people eventually returned to work, Hard Rock gave out over $1 million in employee bonuses and salary increases.

“Our growth over the past year during unprecedented circumstances speaks to guests’ trust in our property and enjoyment of their experiences, which we will continue to evolve and improve,” Lupo said.

AP Photo/Wayne Parry

Bally’s Corp., MLB Strike Sports Betting Deal

Bally’s Corp., has sports betting deals in place with three of the four major North American leagues after reaching an agreement with MLB.

Bally’s Corp., is swinging for the fences with its latest play to join the sports betting big leagues.

Bally’s and Major League Baseball have reached a multi-year deal, according to a news release. As an authorized gaming operator, Bally’s gains access to official MLB league and team marks, logos, and data.

More on the MLB deal

The Rhode Island-based gaming operator will use the league information and team logos across its portfolio of sports betting products. Bally’s Corp., plans to integrate additional content into live games across Sinclair Broadcast Group’s 19 regional sports networks covering more than half of the U.S. MLB teams.

And those networks will soon be rebranded Bally Sports.

“The agreement between Bally’s and MLB offers exciting benefits for baseball fans nationwide,” said George Papanier, president and CEO of Bally’s. “We are honored to have the opportunity to put the Bally’s stamp on America’s national pastime and look forward to providing an innovative and engaging sports betting experience.”

Bally’s Corp. ready to play ball

As part of the agreement, Bally’s and MLB will collaborate on best-in-class practices to protect the integrity of league games., according to the news release.

“As we prepare for the start of the 2021 season, working with Bally’s will present our fans with yet another unique avenue to engage with baseball,” said Kenny Gersh, MLB executive VP of gaming and new business ventures. “Bally’s knows how to provide added entertainment for sports fans across the country, so we look forward to collaborating on new ways of engaging fans around our games.”

MLB Opening Day is April 1 with all 30 teams scheduled to play.
“We can’t wait for the season to begin,” Papanier added.

Three out of four ain’t bad

By adding MLB to its roster, Bally’s now has deals in place with three of the big four North American sports leagues.
The company announced deals with the National Basketball Association and National Hockey League earlier this year.

Another day, another deal for Bally’s Corp.

The MLB deal is the latest move by the company formerly known as Twin River Worldwide Holdings.

The company purchased Bally’s Atlantic City for $25 million last year. Shortly after, it purchased the iconic Bally’s name and will soon operate 15 casinos in 11 states.

But, like most gaming operators, Bally’s Corp., is looking to capitalize on the growth of online gambling and sports betting.

The FanDuel Sportsbook is now open at Bally’s Atlantic City casino.
Bally Bets is expected to be available later this year. Bally’s also inked the previously mentioned media partnership with the Sinclair Broadcast Group, a national leader in regional sports media.

Other deals include:

  • Bet.Works, sports betting platform provider
  • Monkey Knife Fight, daily fantasy sports operator
  • SportsCaller, a free-to-play sports game provider

So it should come as no surprise that Bally’s stepped up to the plate with MLB.

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Will Esports Entertainment Group Enter NJ Betting Market In 2021?

Esports Entertainment Group announced Tuesday it submitted its gaming license application with the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement.

In an effort to capitalize on the growing sports NJ betting marketEsports Entertainment Group announced Tuesday it submitted its gaming license application with the state Division of Gaming Enforcement.

EEG and Bally’s Corp., the parent company of Bally’s Atlantic City, entered into a multi-year agreement in 2020.

According to a press release, EEG operates several entities across three key pillars:

  • esports entertainment and infrastructure
  • esports wagering
  • iGaming

The company has offices in New Jersey, the United Kingdom, and Malta.

Strong demand pushing esports’ market entry

Grant Johnson, CEO of EEG, cited a recent study from Interpret which found over 50% of U.S. fans said they are likely to engage in esports betting. Johnson said EEG is “confident that demand will be strong.”

“This is our first gaming license application in the U.S., and once approved, we believe we will be the first esports-vertical focused sportsbook with a state license in the U.S.,” he said.

“Securing access to what is currently the largest market for sports betting in the U.S. will provide a strong advantage as we look to expand into additional markets in the U.S. moving forward.”

Johnson expects the NJDGE to approve the application sometime in the second quarter of 2021.

The ‘next big thing’ is not here, yet

At the moment, betting on esports has not been broadly legalized in NJ. The DGE director can issue temporary approvals for events.

NJ Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, a former Atlantic City casino executive, has introduced legislation to permanently allow wagering on competitive electronic gaming contests. The bill passed the Assembly but stalled in the state Senate last year.

“Esports is the next big thing when it comes to sporting events,” said Caputo, chair of the Assembly Tourism, Gaming and the Arts Committee. “With online sports betting now legal in our state and a rapidly expanding esports industry already in existence, the time is right for New Jersey to expand legal wagering beyond traditional sports.”

However, Atlantic City has hosted several esports tournaments in recent years:

  • Caesars hosted the city’s first event, Gears of War Pro Circuit, in 2017.
  • Harrah’s Resort held the Rainbow Six Siege Pro League event in 2018.
  • In 2019, Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall held the Ultimate Gaming Championship’s Halo Classic tournament.
  • Showboat Hotel has also hosted several tournaments.

Nevada allowed esports betting for the first time in 2020.

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Bally’s Corp. Making Moves To Compete In Sports Betting Industry Nationwide

Bally’s sports betting interest has become clear over the past week with its acquisition of Bet.Works and a naming-rights deal with Sinclair.

Bally’s Corp. has committed to spending $90 million on its Atlantic City property over the next five years. Bally’s sports betting ambitions appear to be much broader than just New Jersey, however.

The last week has been a busy one for the gambling company, as it announced an agreement to acquire Bet.Works, a US sportsbook technology platform provider. On the same day, Bally’s Corp. shared the details of a strategic partnership to put its branding in front of millions of sports fans around the country. The end goal is obvious.

Both deals come on the heels of the company completing the purchase of Bally’s AC from Caesars Entertainment.

More on Bally Corp’s sports betting push

To compete with the big boys in the NJ sports betting industry in the Garden State and beyond, Bally’s needed a platform. Check it off the list.

Bet.Works currently powers theScore Bet app that is live in New Jersey and several other US jurisdictions.

For cash and stock worth $125 million, Bally’s will make Bet.Works’ products its own.

“This is the next step in our company’s evolution,” said Soo Kim, chairman of Bally’s Corporation’s board of directors. “By combining our expanding national footprint of casinos, the recently acquired Bally’s brand and Bet.Works’ proprietary technology stack, we have evolved in just a few short years from a regional casino operator into the first US gaming company committed to serving our customers with an omnichannel approach, combining the best of our physical properties with a superior online experience.”

A press release stated that Bally’s plans to split operations into two separate divisions, with one handling online products and the other focusing on retail casino business. The online division’s name will be Bally’s Interactive.

It’s unclear exactly when NJ online gamblers will have access to either product under Bally’s management. It’s also uncertain to what extent Bally’s will rebrand the platforms. The company doesn’t expect to actually close the transaction until early next year.

Whenever Bally’s does start pushing its online sports betting product, it will have a great chance to market it to sports fans. That’s the result of some more recent spending.

Bally’s buys RSN naming rights

This chain of events began years ago when Disney bought out 20th Century Fox. As part of the regulatory approval for that transaction, Disney had to sell off Fox’s 21 regional sports networks.

Last year, Sinclair Broadcasting purchased the entire lot. That gave the company rights to broadcast a multitude of sporting events in most of the United States.

For $85 million over the span of a decade, those networks will soon bear Bally’s name. The networks will all feature the name Bally’s Sports.

The companies plan to integrate Bally’s sports betting product directly into the broadcasts, going as far as to actually allow you to wager on an event using your television as you’re watching it. Here are some of the highlights of the strategic partnership:

  •  Sinclair and Bally’s will jointly market, design and integrate products on a state-by-state basis and deliver one-of-a-kind online gaming experiences.
  • 21 Fox RSN brands will be rebranded using the Bally name.
  • Bally’s will have premium integration opportunities across the Tennis Channel, the home of over 95% of all live tennis matches broadcast in the US, Sinclair’s 24/7 multiplatform sports network.

As it’s a naming rights deal and not an acquisition, it’s fair to assume Sinclair will still be free to sell advertising space to Bally’s competitors during broadcasts. Additionally, it’s yet uncertain what this will mean for Fox’s own sports betting platform, Fox Bet.

What’s clear, however, is the fact that Bally’s is all in on competing for sportsbook handle across the country. If it can maximize its deal with Sinclair, it has a good shot at gaining market share.

Bet Section Aims To Convert More Of theScore’s Audience To Sports Betting

New features for theScore Bet Section increase the personalization and marketing push in the app for New Jersey bettors and sports fans.

TheScore’s marketing plan is to take a large swath of its media audience and introduce it to sports betting. The Toronto-based company continues to  invest more resources into that strategy, which includes the debut of Bet Section within theScore app.

Score Media and Gaming Inc. announced the details via press release.

This new feature has a dedicated home within theScore‘s media app. According to the release, Bet Section will take the company’s “innovative cross-platform media and betting experience with theScore Bet to the next level.”

TheScore will try to deliver even more customized content to app users. The plan is to focus that content on betting angles.

How theScore Bet Section feature works

The new features of theScore’s Android and iOS apps are live. The selling point is greater personalization.

For example, if you consume content from theScore about the New York Giants, you’ll receive notifications in the app about wagering opportunities on the Giants. The idea is that theScore is informing Garden State bettors about the NJ sports betting markets they are most likely interested in.

The customization features go beyond simple tailored alerts, however. The app will also deliver personalized promos to accompany the browsing of those markets.

If an app user should actually pull the trigger, they will enjoy revamped wager tracking as well. In addition to live tracking of the bet(s), users can see real-time cash-out offers.

Finally, theScore has integrated a social component. Users can see how picks are polling and use that information to guide their wagering if they choose.

Here is what John Levy, founder and CEO of theScore, had to say about the Bet Section feature.

“We launched theScore Bet on the premise that betting should be a natural extension of how fans consume sports, not an isolated transactional experience,” said Levy. “With the launch of Bet Section, we’re further fulfilling that mission by creating an unparalleled cross-platform experience that personalizes and streamlines the betting process for users as they interact with our media app. It’s natural, seamless and reinforces our cutting-edge approach in fusing media with gaming.”

This new thrust is designed to maximize the amount of time that users spend on the app and increase engagement. There’s sound logic behind aiming to increase those metrics.

Now is the time to invest in mobile apps

According to some recent research, consumers have never spent more money or time on mobile apps. In the third quarter of the current fiscal year, Android and iOS device users spent over $28 billion within apps, which is an increase of 20% year-over-year.

So how does that relate to sports betting? TheScore knows its customers are spending a good amount of time on their devices. Consumers have no qualms about spending their money via apps on those phones and tablets.

So, the trick is getting them to spend as much time as possible on theScore’s app instead of its competitors.

The “magic” behind that trick is simple but difficult to execute consistently. TheScore believes it can compete in the space, however, with its diverse and robust array of written and video content.

Convenience and functionality are two other important components, as users tend to dismiss apps quickly if they can’t find what they’re looking for easily.

There’s no guarantee that tailored content will actually make more theScore app users deposit funds into betting accounts, but not marketing the sportsbook this way would seem like punting on an obvious opportunity at a return on investment.

Further down the line, theScore has plans to enter the NJ online casino market. It announced a market access deal with Twin Rivers Worldwide Holdings, now Bally’s Corp., which is expected to take over ownership of Bally’s Atlantic City before 2020 comes to a close

For now, the focus is on sports betting.

At the very least, this new feature should make the app more useful for existing theScore Bet customers. TheScore hopes it will make the number of such consumers grow as well.