- Betway has signed a partnership with the Miami Heat to become an ‘Official Partner’ of the NBA team.
- It was a busy week for Betway as they closed partnership deals with three NBA teams–Miami, the Philadelphia 76ers and Minnesota Timberwolves.
- Betway offers mobile sports betting in five US states: Colorado, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Indiana, and New Jersey.
On October 27, we reported that Betway had signed a deal with the Philadelphia 76ers, making them their second NBA team partnership in a matter of several days. I closed that article by quipping:
There’s still a few days left in October so we very well might see more Betway/NBA team partnerships drop before the end of the month.
It was meant to be a ‘bit’ but wouldn’t you know–Betway *has* dropped another NBA team partnership just under the wire before the end of the month. This time, it’s with the Miami Heat which sees Betway returning to their interesting tactical strategy of entering partnership agreements in states with no real legal sports betting. Florida is in many ways similar to Minnesota, only worse. The ‘Sunshine State’ was at one point among the best gambling states in the US. That is no longer the case, as the Seminole Tribe now has a near monopoly on all forms of gaming and the state’s easily influenced political vermin have given them de facto veto power on anything new that approximates ‘a game of chance’. Throw in arguably the worst governor in the United States, lunatic Trump lover Ron DeSantis, and it’s an environment where you don’t expect anything good to happen.
DeSantis has no shame and instead of putting together a sports betting milieu that would benefit all of Florida’s citizens while boosting the economy and providing a competitive market for bettors (you know, the ‘end users’) he’s done just the opposite. He’s gifted the entire thing to the Seminole Tribe who will operate retail sports betting at their six Hard Rock branded properties in the state and offer mobile betting statewide under the same brand. They at least put a positive spin on their hard fought monopoly, boasting that they’ll offer ‘the only safe, legal sportsbook in Florida’. The shame is that the Seminole Tribe has done an excellent job with their Hard Rock properties in Florida and have certainly shown they’re capable of operating mobile sports betting in Iowa and New Jersey. Of course, in those states they just didn’t have the ‘juice’ to openly flout the free market and lacked the political fealty they’re offered by vermin like DeSantis in their home state. Were Florida a competitive environment like Iowa or New Jersey, I’d welcome the addition of the Hard Rock brand to the market. They shouldn’t be allowed to become the sole power broker in sports betting in Florida. Here’s how The Paulick Report explained it:
The bill that garnered the most attention is approval of a 30-year compact between Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Seminoles, giving the tribe a monopoly on sports betting and permitting the addition of three new casinos on the site of the existing Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, approximately 10 miles northwest of Gulfstream Park. The state gets $500 million a year from the the deal for the next five years.
The Seminoles will have a monopoly on sports betting, both at the seven Florida casinos they currently operate and via mobile applications. Pari-mutuel facilities may enter into agreements with the Seminoles to offer sports betting and split revenue with the tribe.
Stephen Screnci, president of the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, has predicted that this–along with further changes into Florida’s gaming regulations–will hurt horse racing. That’s not a surprise and could be part of the scam–any non-Seminole gaming entity has been getting the short end of the stick in Florida for years now. But wait–it gets worse. At $500 million a year it means the state is only realizing an additional $100 million annually from the addition of sports betting (not to mention the further weakening of the non-tribal gaming industry in Florida) and three new casinos. The state’s parimutuel facilities are thrown a small bone–they can partner with the Seminoles to operate satellite locations and split the profits. In other words, they’re *allowed* to be an affiliate but nothing more.
FLORIDA’S GAMING REGULATION SCREWS THE ENTIRE STATE
Let’s do a little math: Florida is the third largest US state by population with 21,477,737 residents as of 2019. That would make them by far the largest sports betting market in the United States–well ahead of Pennsylvania and Illinois at nearly 12 million residents per. The most lucrative sports betting market is, of course, New Jersey which has 8,882,190 residents and does insane numbers. In terms of per capita handle, the top three states are Nevada ($209.90), New Jersey ($107.94) and the best of the ‘post PASPA’ sports betting ecosystems, Colorado ($56.77). Nevada’s per capita is through the roof due to their tourism-centric economy and minuscule population (3,080,156). Colorado is bigger but not by as much as you’d think (5,758,736).
There are only two states in the country that get more tourists than the Silver State of Nevada. Want to guess what they are? California is number one and Florida is number two. Florida is also the second most popular state for international travel. So if New Jersey has a population of 8.82 million and is way down the list of tourism destinations at #17 yet hit $1 billion USD in sports betting revenue last month what kind of revenue do you think Florida could do with a decent regulatory environment given their population of nearly 21.5 million and the 131 million tourists that traveled to the state in 2019 (the last pre-COVID year)?
As handicappers say, there’s a ‘limited sample size’ but there’s much to suggest that creating a successful sports betting ecosystem–and I’m defining ‘successful’ as one that provides a competitive market for bettors, opportunities for the private sector and that contributes to the overall economy by attracting jobs and investment–has everything to do with regulatory structure and little to do with population. By my definition, the state as a whole benefits–even if a citizen has no interest in sports betting whatsoever they benefit from new jobs, employers and investment coming into the state as well as ancillary opportunities for private sector involvement. Obviously, a big population doesn’t hurt but that assumes that the regulatory framework is such that the sports betting industry can leverage that. If it isn’t, it’s somewhere between minimized and irrelevant. For example, Oregon has a population of 4.28 million and Iowa a population of 3.16 million. Both states purportedly have legal sports betting but otherwise have nothing in common. Iowa has one of the best regulatory systems in the US, Oregon’s lottery run monopoly is one of the worst–even by the dubious standards of lottery run sports betting. Last month, Iowa did $210.4 million in sports betting revenue compared to Oregon’s paltry $25 million.
The sum total of this? Florida is gifting a potential multi-billion business that could bring in tourists, jobs, investment benefiting every component of the state’s economy to the Seminole Tribe. The state is getting $100 million more per year in return, meaning that the individual citizen of the Sunshine State is getting little or nothing out of DeSantis’ sweetheart deal with the tribal gaming cabal. The potential of a property constructed Florida sports betting market is mind boggling–to make the math easy, if they did anywhere near what New Jersey does per capita (let’s say $100 per to make it simple) they would be looking at a $2 billion plus USD per month industry. I’m basing that strictly on population–throw in Florida’s high tourism numbers and a figure of $2.5 billion USD per month looks very realistic. Clearly, this potentially massive revenue is highly contingent on a competitive market and proper regulation. The Seminole Tribe monopoly won’t do anywhere near this. That makes it even more of a travesty–it isn’t unrealistic to suggest that the Seminole’s cut in a competitive market modeled on New Jersey would bring them more money than their monopoly situation. Not that it bothers him, but DeSantis’ handling of sports betting in Florida transcends incompetence and borders on ‘dereliction of duty’ as he puts the desires of a political powerful special interest ahead of, well, everyone else in the state.
BETWAY ENTERS AS A MIAMI HEAT PARTNER
At least Betway will be around to serve as a reminder of the kind of ancillary economic benefit that would exist in a competitive sports betting market. The company will get the usual ‘brand presence’ around FTX arena ‘with courtside LED and baseline apron signage’. They’ll also be the ‘preferred free-to-play gaming partner’ of the team. Betway CEO Anthony Werkman had this to say about the partnership:
“Following further growth in the US, we’re thrilled to be partnering with the Miami Heat. Miami is a fantastic city where sport is a huge passion, and we look forward to sharing the thrill with fans of the three-time NBA championship winning side.”
Miami Heat vice president of corporate partnerships Glen Oskin spoke only of Betway’s ‘free to play’ experience:
“With a proven track record as a global brand, Betway made a huge splash as it entered the US market. Its leading the way as a dynamic entity that provides an incredible free-to-play gaming experience. Betway is an industry leader, and we couldn’t be happier to have it as a partner.”
This is a smart move for Betway–part of the challenge for their company is simple brand recognition. This puts them in front of plenty of ‘eyeballs’ regardless of the regulatory situation in Florida. It’s also a good front to open in the ongoing battle for a competitive sports betting marketplace throughout the United States–at some point, Floridians will see all of these other companies advertise in the mainstream sports media and start to wonder why they have no options.