PlayUSA Rewind: Online Sports Betting Market Grows With Launch of MI & VA

Written By Nicholaus Garcia on January 27, 2021 - Last Updated on February 20, 2022

Happy Wednesday and welcome back to the PlayUSA Rewind!

Last week started off as a bland, unseasoned chicken, but quickly became a full course meal by Friday.

But just in case you missed anything, a pair of states launched online sports betting and online casino games. New York mayoral candidate Andrew Yang proposed a Manhatten casino and Monkey Knife Fight finds a home with Bally’s.

On the rewind:

Michigan and Virginia launch online sports betting

Let’s take a moment to give Virginia sports betting a round of applause for its unexpected launch last week. While all eyes were on Michigan, the Commonwealth emerged out of the shadows with the debut of the FanDuel Sportsbook. Additionally, no less than 24 hours later, Virginia announced the approval of the DraftKings Sportsbook.

The VA Lottery has said there are no plans to announce which sports betting operators will launch in the state. It’s basically a “wake up and see” if there are any new sportsbooks live in the state.

Michigan, on the other hand, started off strong with the launch of multiple online sportsbook and online casino apps. The debut of Michigan online sports betting has been long in the works ever since Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a series of expanded gambling bills back in 2019. Expect a few other sports betting operators to launch in due time. But for now, Michigan has options.

The takeaway: Experts anticipate big returns from the Michigan online gaming market. The launch of 10 sports betting and online casino apps from the start is a pretty good sign of things to come. Over on the east coast, the quick turnaround in Virginia also paints a good picture for a state looking to cash in on sports betting. Although, I’m sure people could do without the secrecy surrounding who/when operators are launching.

New York mayoral candidate wants Manhattan casino

If you weren’t aware, failed Democratic presidential nominee Andrew Yang is running for mayor of New York City. One of his out-of-the-box ideas to raise revenue for the city appears to be the development of a Las Vegas-style casino on Governors Island.

“This casino would generate so much money it would be bananas,” Yang said during a radio appearance on The Breakfast Club.

Governors Island currently houses a handful of restaurants and businesses, a National Monument, a park, is 172-acres in size, and only accessible by ferry. But the idea that New York City would get a casino, is itself, bananas. Credit to Yang for bringing ideas to the table, but he might as well have said, money would rain from the sky.

The takeaway: While ambitious the idea may be more of a pipe-dream. There is so much red tape that an idea of this magnitude would only be plausible years after Yang became mayor, which itself is a stretch. Look, yes, a casino would rack in million for New York, no question. It’s the same reason Chicago has been trying to get a casino resort built. But not even the all-powerful Richard J. Daley was able to make that a reality.

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Monkey Knife Fight finds a home

In our last story, the third-largest daily fantasy sports (DFS) operator, Monkey Knife Fight, has been acquired by Bally’s Corporation.

The stock deal, which could be worth upwards of $90 million, makes Bally’s just the third sports betting company with a DFS arm. According to George Papanierpresident and CEO of Bally’s, the companies plan is to become a “vertically integrated” sports betting and iGaming company with both B2B and B2C models.

“With this acquisition, we are pleased to enter into the high-growth DFS market. Monkey Knife Fight is a unique asset that we look forward to incorporating into Bally’s constantly growing omnichannel portfolio of land-based casinos and iGaming platforms,” Papanier said.

The takeaway: As we have mentioned previously, Bally’s, formally Twin River Worldwide Holdings, is making all the right acquisitions. First, purchasing the Bally’s name from Caesars Entertainment for $25 million. Then, a deal with sports betting operator, Bet.Works. Once that latter deal is complete, the company will have two operating divisions, Bally’s Casinos and Bally’s Interactive.

Photo by Dreamstime
Nicholaus Garcia Avatar
Written by
Nicholaus Garcia

Nick has had stints in Chicago and Washington, D.C., writing about politics, financial markets, and sports betting. He graduated from Texas Tech University and completed his master's degree in journalism at Columbia College Chicago.

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