weather icon Clear

US, global sportsbook operators see Nevada as ‘gold standard’

Sportsbook operator William Hill has seen tremendous growth since the London-based company was first granted a Nevada gaming license in 2012, according to U.S. CEO Joe Asher.

“We’ve just been hiring a lot of people here in Las Vegas to support the business in the state,” Asher said. “We just ran out of space in our office on Rainbow (Boulevard) and had to take some new place about a mile up the road from the current office.”

William Hill now operates 21 sportsbooks in the Las Vegas Valley, but it isn’t the only sportsbook operator making a local mark.

As legalized sports betting expands across the country, sportsbook operators from near and far are looking to get into in the established Nevada market, experts say.

Brendan Bussmann, a partner at Global Market Advisors, said Nevada is one of the first markets sportsbook operators look to when they expand operations.

“You’re going to see quality operators that want to come to Nevada because it’s held in high standard,” he said. “If you can set up in Nevada, you can be licensed anywhere in the world.”

A growing market

For decades, Nevada was the only one to offer sports betting; it legalized the practice in 1949.

That all changed last year, when the U.S. Supreme Court stuck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, a 1992 law that prohibited the expansion of sports betting to other states. Since it was overturned, about 10 states have legalized sports betting.

Nevada’s sportsbooks and mobile platforms generated $301 million in winnings last year, up 21 percent from revenue in 2017. Research company GamblingCompliance projects the U.S. sports wagering market will grow to $5.7 billion in annual revenue and spread to 34 states by 2024.

Earlier this year, Isle of Man-based GVC Gaming obtained its license from the Nevada Gaming Control Board. The company had already been operating in Nevada as Stadium Technology, providing sportsbook software to about 80 percent of sports betting operators in the state. Last year, the company agreed to a joint venture with MGM Resorts International that included all existing MGM sportsbook revenues from its eight Nevada properties.

Tony Cabot, a UNLV professor and a former gaming attorney, expects most of the companies doing business in other states will “eventually” enter the Las Vegas market, once they find suitable casino partners.

“Success in Nevada is important to achieving scale,” he said.

Boston-based DraftKings, a fantasy sports operator, is hiring in Nevada as it seeks to build its sports betting division. The company entered into an agreement with Caesars earlier this year, but has yet to receive a Nevada Gaming license.

FanDuel, the daily fantasy sports operator owned by Ireland-based Flutter Entertainment, reached a sports betting partnership with Boyd Gaming Corp. last August. The company is operating sporsbooks in New Jersey, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York and plans to operate in Indiana and Iowa this year, said Kevin Hennessy, director of publicity for FanDuel.

“It wouldn’t surprise me to see DraftKings or FanDuel enter the Nevada market, although they may ultimately be brand partners versus the actual license-holding operator,” said Eilers & Krejcik Gaming analyst Chris Grove.

Robert Walker, director of sports book operators for Las Vegas-based USBookmaking, agreed, saying FanDuel and DraftKings are likley waiting for the right opportunity in Nevada.

“I think both those companies … want to be in as many places as they can,” he said.

Hennessy declined to comment on FanDuel’s potential plans in Nevada. A spokesperson from DraftKings did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A ‘real opportunity’

Walker said he agrees that Nevada’s regulatory practices are the “gold standard” in sports betting, but that could turn some operators away.

While obtaining a Nevada gaming license makes entering other markets easier, Walker believes it doesn’t make sense for every operator to jump through so many regulatory hoops just to operate in Nevada. Additionally, he said the state’s regulations on mobile sports betting — players must sign up for accounts in-person in Nevada, unlike in other states — could turn operators away.

“It’s a tough, mature market,” he said. “I’m not sure how much it makes sense for any vendor to come to Nevada just to be in Nevada.”

But Cabot said even with an expanded legal sports betting market, Nevada is still viewed as the leader in the industry.

“Las Vegas was and remains a unique destination,” he said. “If Las Vegas does its investments now and sports betting becomes more and more popular, Las Vegas will retain its reputation as the Mecca of sports betting.”

According to Grove, the PASPA repeal presents a “real opportunity” for operators in Nevada. As more people are exposed to sports betting in their home states, Grove believes more will want to try their luck at the “Mecca of gambling.”

“The more people get exposed to it, the broader the base of consumers coming to Las Vegas to try it out,” he said. “There’s a concurrent peak between regional poker rooms, the popularity of online poker and the number of rooms and tables in Las Vegas. All of those things grew together.”

Walker called it the “golden era” for customers.

“For the places that have multiple sportsbooks, you’re going to get the best pricing,” he said. “It’s just going to get bigger and better and more competitive … (But for operators,) it’s probably going to erode margins for sportsbooks.”

And as more players enter the market, Walker said the major operators in Nevada today will have to fight to keep their properties.

“You’ll see, in three to five years, (the major opporators) will be much different,” Walker said. “Everyone’s game has to be at a high level to compete in this industry … When contracts expire, (properties will) look at different options and at who brings the most to the table.”

Contact Bailey Schulz at bschulz@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0233. Follow @bailey_schulz on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Business Videos
Binion's debuts a spinning bar overlooking Fremont Street Experience
Binion's debuted its spinning bar inside the Whiskey Licker Up Saloon. The Rotating bar only goes at one full rotation per 15 minutes overlooking the Fremont Street Experience. (James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Day 3 of the 2019 Global Gaming Expo
Day 3 of the 2019 Global Gaming Expo took place at the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Southern Nevada could set a new resale-price record in coming months.
The median sales price of previously owned single-family homes – the bulk of the market – was $310,000 in September. Before the economy crashed last decade, prices peaked in June 2006 at $315,000, according to the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors.(Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Walmart container park in Henderson - VIDEO
Henderson could be home to a container park associated with a Walmart Inc. initiative. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Recession lessons could help Las Vegas face next slump - VIDEO
While the last economic downturn had a dramatic impact on local casinos, most experts expect the industry will be better able to weather the storm during the next recession. (Mat Luschek / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM and victims of Oct. 1 reach settlement agreement - VIDEO
MGM Resorts International and lawyers representing potentially thousands of victims of the Oct. 1, 2017, mass shooting on the Las Vegas Strip have reached a tentative settlement of between $735 million and $800 million. (Mat Luschek /Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Live music and EDM dominate the night on day 2 of A’Le’Innstock
After sunset bands rocked the crowds at A’Le’Innstock in Rachel, Nevada on the second night of the event.
iPhone 11 Release
Local Las Vegas long time Apple product consumer shares her excitement for the new iPhone 11 release Downtown Summerlin. (Elizabeth Page Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Lihi Levin talks about a mobil app Dropit - VIDEO
Lihi Levin, regional manager at Dropit Shopping, talks about a mobil app Dropit. The app lets customers leave their shopping bags at a store then have them delivered the same day to their home or hotel so they can shop without carrying multiple bags all day. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
North Las Vegas company prepares for Mars - VIDEO
Robert Bigelow and his Bigelow Aerospace manufacturing facility played host to eight NASA astronauts and 60 engineers this week getting to know the company’s B330 autonomous, expandable space station. (Elizabeth Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas developer talks about a new apartment complex called “the yoU”
Frank Marretti lll, founder of G2 Capital Development, talks about his new apartment complex called “the yoU” near UNLV. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Steel cables will hoist roof at Allegiant Stadium - VIDEO
Stainless steel cables are being put into place at Allegiant Stadium to begin the process of putting the roof on the 65,000-seat stadium in Las Vegas. Stadium Chief Operating Officer Don Webb explains how the cables will be used to get the roof put on the future home of the Raiders and UNLV football. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The last remaining Sigma Derby game in Las Vegas
Derek Stevens, owner of the D Las Vegas, talks about the last remaining Sigma Derby horse racing game in Las Vegas inside his casino floor. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Popeyes Spicy Chicken Sandwich Review
Janine Blake of Las Vegas gives her review of the new Popeyes Spicy Chicken Sandwich at the restaurant’s location on west Bonanza Road on Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019,
SuperZoo 2019 takes over Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas
SuperZoo 2019 show for pet retailers brought pet products of all description to the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MSG Sphere at The Venetian to cost $1.2B plus
Scheduled to open in 2021, it is expected to be busier than Madison Square Garden in New York. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Favorite products from SuperZoo 2019
Some of the fun and interesting pet products on display at the SuperZoo in Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MAGIC Convention Day 3
The fashion trade show MAGIC, held Monday through Wednesday at the Las Vegas Convention Center. (Elizabeth Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MAGIC Las Vegas - Day One
The biannual MAGIC convention show opened Monday at the Las Vegas Convention Center. (Elizabeth Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Allegiant celebrates naming deal with tailgate party
Allegiant Air employees celebrate with a tailgate party after the company’s naming deal with the Raiders for the new Las Vegas stadium.
Nevada's sportsbook operators welcome competition
Sportsbook operators from near and far are looking to get into in the established Nevada market, experts say. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)