PlayUSA Relay No. 2: FanDuel And WNBA Renew Partnership, Churchill Downs Buys Ellis Park

Written By Katarina Vojvodic on September 19, 2022 - Last Updated on September 21, 2022
wnba churchilll downs us online gambling

This is the second edition of PlayUSA Relay, a weekly recap of updates on the latest US online gambling news. 

In the PlayUSA Relay, our team of writers chooses the most significant online casino news and sports betting updates from the previous week, only in a smaller size. So if you missed something or didn’t see it in our stories, this would be a good opportunity to catch up on what’s been going on.

You can also follow us on Twitter @VisitPlayUSA | @reporternickg | @vojvodic_ka for all the latest developments, insights and analysis on the US online gambling industry. 

Here’s this week’s Relay:

FanDuel and WNBA partnership renewal

FanDuel and the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) announced a multiyear partnership extension on Sept. 8.

FanDuel is now the WNBA’s official sportsbook partner and will continue to be their official daily fantasy partner.

The extension arrives five years after FanDuel initially partnered with the WNBA, which marked the company’s first partnership with a women’s professional sports league. In May 2017, Fan Duel was also the first major fantasy operator to launch a WNBA game.

By being the official sportsbook and fantasy sports partner of the league, the sports betting company gains rights to air WNBA highlights across its platforms, FanDuel TV and its new OTT network, FanDuel+.

As part of the agreement, and as stated in the company’s press release, FanDuel will also engage with fans through WNBA-themed, free-to-play games. Likewise, FanDuel betting odds will also be featured on WNBA digital channels starting next session.

Moreover, FanDuel and the WNBA agreed to collaborate on responsible gaming and best-in-class practices to protect the integrity of WNBA games.

Michigan names 888 as Hannahville tribe’s sports betting provider

The Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) has approved 888 Holdings’ subsidiary VHL, Michigan LLC, to take over the online sports betting license issued in affiliation with Michigan’s Island Resort & Casino, operated by the Hannahville Indian Community.

The online sports betting site will be run by Sports Illustrated while giving 888 Holdings a new online foothold in Michigan, where it could offer online casino games and online poker.

The approval was received on Sept. 7 and marked the first time an existing Michigan licensee has changed online partners.

Formerly, Hannahville and Island Resort & Casino had made an agreement with Twin Spires, owned and operated by Churchill Downs, Inc (CDI). But earlier this year, CDI revealed that the company would narrow the market focus of its Twin Spires entity, concentrating on horse racing opportunities. Twin Spires leaving the Wolverine State’s regulated online gambling market now cleared the way and made it easier for 888 to enter.

According to the press release, the company’s next step will be to launch an 888-branded online casino with the application to the Michigan state before the year’s end.

There are only three online poker platforms for Michigan players — BetMGM, PokerStars and WSOP.com.

Scientific Games to entertain Texas Lottery players for another decade

As announced on Sept. 13, the government-operated Texas Lottery will continue to entertain its players with Scientific Games scratch ticket games, licensed brands and custom promotions.

The companies’ agreement comes under a new contract extending their existing partnership through 2034. The deal also includes SCiQ, a lottery retail technology ecosystem that improves in-store display and security for scratch tickets, scheduled to roll out in 2023.

Gary Grief, Texas Lottery’s Executive Director, said via release:

“Scientific Games’ products and promotions played an important role in the Texas Lottery achieving more than $6.73 billion in scratch ticket sales for fiscal year 2022. We look forward to partnering on more memorable player experiences together while bringing SCiQ to our retailers to advance the technology supporting our scratch ticket game sales.”

The companies share a long history of partnering since 1992, including the $5M Vegas Challenge, one of the lottery industry’s most successful second-chance promotions.

Being the state’s only form of permitted gambling, the Texas Lottery is among the richest in the US, selling nearly $8 billion worth of tickets last year.

Aristocrat Gaming the official partner of the New England Patriots and Gillette Stadium

Aristocrat Gaming, the software supplier company, announced a multiyear partnership with New England Patriots on Sept. 13.

According to the agreement, Aristocrat Gaming will be an Official Partner of the Patriots and Gillette Stadium. As such, the software provider will have prominent signage throughout the stadium all year long, including in-stadium, on the concourse and in-game branding, as well as in-game promotion and game-day activations.

The news follows Aristocrat Gaming’s recent announcement of their exclusive multiyear slot machine licensing agreement to build land-based NFL-themed slot machines. Aristocrat Gaming’s NFL license will allow fans to choose their favorite teams, like the Patriots, when spinning the reels of land-based slot machines.

Hector Fernandez, Aristocrat Gaming CEO, commented:

“We are ecstatic to partner with the New England Patriots, one of the most successful and legendary franchises in the NFL. We look forward to bringing our NFL-themed slot games to casinos across Massachusetts, providing an opportunity for passionate Patriots fans to experience their favorite team in new and exciting ways.”

Murray Kohl, VP of Corporate Sponsorships for Kraft Sports + Entertainment, added:

“The Patriots and Gillette Stadium are excited to partner with Aristocrat Gaming and explore many new opportunities to engage with our fans. We are thrilled to work with their innovative team on multiple activation and branding opportunities at Gillette Stadium throughout the Patriots season, as well as have the Patriots branding featured on their slot machines nationwide.”

DraftKings Becomes Official ‘Thursday Night Football’ Sponsor

Amazon has selected DraftKings as a sponsor for Thursday Night Football on Prime Video, the sportsbook operator announced via press release on Sept. 13.

The “multiyear collaboration” is already underway, delivering fans engaging program content and exclusive betting offers every Thursday throughout the NFL season.

Stephanie Sherman, DraftKings’ chief marketing officer, said via release:

“The NFL season is the most active time of year for our customers, so collaborating with one of the world’s leading technology brands in order to offer engaging content to viewers of TNF on Prime Video is a tremendous opportunity for DraftKings.”

“Prime Video is an innovator in live content and we both have a similar focus on constantly improving our customers’ experiences. We look forward to working with Amazon to bring millions of viewers a premium and enhanced experience during TNF on Prime Video all season long and for years to come.”

For $139 a year, Amazon Prime subscribers will be able to watch the 15 scheduled Thursday games this season. DraftKings will also offer TNF-themed content, including same-game parlays, through its DraftKings sportsbook app.

GiG gets license approval to launch in Pennsylvania

Gaming Innovation Group (GiG) has secured a license from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB).

As announced on Sept. 14 in the company’s press release, the iGaming corporate has been granted an “interim authorization” by the regulator. It can now present its products and services within the Keystone State.

With its award-winning Player Account Manager (PAM) and sportsbook, GiG will look to leverage over four years of experience in the US.

Claudio Caruana, General Counsel for GiG, said:

“The addition of a Pennsylvania authorisation to our ever expanding list of supported markets is testament of the focus that GiG has placed on regulated markets which we strongly believe underpins sustainable and prosperous growth within the online igaming industry. Pennsylvania will play a key role in our plans for expansion in North America, and we are delighted to power our partners with our award winning technology in the region”.

The corporation is especially interested in thriving in Pennsylvania as the state’s iGaming income has been rising every year, making it one of the US’s most successful and mature markets. Figures posted by PGCB in August recorded iGaming revenue in Pennsylvania as 11% higher year on year, at $98.6 million.

GiG currently serves 26 regulated markets, with another nine in the pipeline.

Churchill Downs Inc. to purchase Ellis Park

Churchill Downs Incorporated (CDI) announced entering a deal to acquire Ellis Park Racing & Gaming in Henderson, KY, from Enchantment Holdings, LLC (an affiliate of Laguna Development Corporation). The company will buy the business for $79 million in cash, subject to certain working capital and other purchase price adjustments.

In addition to acquiring Ellis Park, Churchill Downs is assuming the rights to build a track addition facility in Owensboro as part of the agreement.

In the news release, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said:

“This is an exciting announcement for the horse racing industry, the cities of Henderson and Owensboro, and the entire Commonwealth of Kentucky. Churchill Downs has proven it has the experience, resources and desire to reinvigorate Ellis Park into a premier racing destination and provide unmatched gaming entertainment.”

The acquisition has to be approved by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.

If everything goes according to plan, CDI expects its total investment in Henderson and Daviess Counties to be approximately $75 million, on top of the purchase price.

Resorts World Hudson Valley casino to open later this fall

As Genting Malaysia informed local news this week, the construction of its Resorts World Hudson Valley is going according to plan.

Genting Malaysia’s latest multimillion casino project should launch by the end of the year.

The 90,000-square-foot Resorts World Hudson Valley casino is in the Newburgh Mall in Orange County, NY, and is supposed to replace the space left from the “The Bon-Ton” store.

Meghan Taylor, the company’s VP for government affairs, told Mid-Hudson News:

“It’s quick and easy to get to off of the infrastructure and roadways we have right outside of our doors, as opposed to the Resorts World Catskills where it is a luxury weekend getaway. We do not have a hotel here. We don’t have restaurants in the facility here at Resorts World Hudson Valley, but we hope that with making that key decision, we’re going to be a catalyst to drive redevelopment here at the mall.”

The facility will feature 1,200 video lottery terminals, electronic table games, as well as a sports bar offering online sports betting through the Resorts World Bet app.

The project could likely offer jobs to 250 locals while securing $3 million for the Town of Newburgh every year.

Boyd Gaming announces quarterly dividend

One of the US’s largest and most successful casino entertainment companies, Boyd Gaming Corporation, announced on Sept. 15 that its Board of Directors had declared a quarterly dividend of $0.15 per share, or $0.6 annualized.

The dividend will be payable on Oct. 15, 2022, to stockholders of record at the close of business on Sept. 30, 2022, with an ex-dividend date of Sept. 29, 2022.

Boyd Gaming, founded in 1975, is a leading geographically diversified operator of 28 gaming entertainment properties in Nevada, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

The company manages a tribal casino in northern California and is also a strategic partner and 5% equity owner of FanDuel Group.


For additional igaming industry coverage, follow @VisitPlayUSA | @reporternickg | @vojvodic_ka 

See you next week!

Photo by PlayUSA/Shutterstock
Katarina Vojvodic Avatar
Written by
Katarina Vojvodic

Katarina Vojvodic is a lead writer for PlayUSA who lives in Toronto. Vojvodic provides coverage of the US gambling industry with a focus on US online casinos. Previously, she covered Ontario’s online gambling industry for PlayCanada.com. Vojvodic holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Belgrade. Outside working hours, she can be found near the water with her husband and their two kids.

View all posts by Katarina Vojvodic
Privacy Policy