- Regulated sports betting went live in Wyoming today becoming the 23rd state to offer sports betting in some form or another.
- Wyoming could quickly become one of the best jurisdictions in the country for players despite having a small population.
- The first two sportsbooks to begin operating in Wyoming are DraftKings and BetMGM.
We took a look at the Wyoming sports betting launch ‘macro’ in a previous article. We’ll now turn our attention to the ‘micro’, more specifically comments and notes about the sportsbooks that launched there today along with betting data provider Genius Sports.
No real surprise in the first two sportsbooks to launch in Wyoming–BetMGM and DraftKings are two of the powerhouse brands in the industry and have made it clear that they want to establish their brand in as many states as possible. With Wyoming’s ease of entry and reasonable licensing fees there’s every reason to think that you’ll start to see more sportsbooks coming online within the next month. Caesars Sportsbook has started to accept signups from Wyoming though as of this writing they’ve not started to accept bets.
Before we get to DraftKings and BetMGM we’ll look at betting data provider Genius Sports. Genius Sports got a ton of media coverage back in April when they signed a massive data rights deal with the National Football League (NFL) worth a reported $1 billion USD over four years. They’ve got plenty of other betting data partnerships with major sports leagues around the world including the English Premier League, FIBA, the NCAA, NASCAR, FIBA, NCAA, NASCAR and the PGA.
Genius Sports has been licensed as an “Online Sports Wagering Vendor” in Wyoming. I’m not sure exactly which companies are required to get licensed in this manner. In Colorado, they have distinctions between ‘major’ and ‘minor’ vendors:
A Vendor Major License is required for any person and/or entity who acts on behalf of an establishment licensed to operate sports betting gaming and: (1) Manages, administers or controls wagers that are initiated, received or made on a sports betting gaming system; (2) Manages, administers or controls the games with which wagers that are initiated, received or made on a sports betting gaming system are associated; (3) Maintains or operates the software or hardware of a sports betting gaming system; (4) Provides products, services, information or assets to an establishment licensed to operate sports betting gaming and/or receives, therefore, a percentage of gaming revenue from the establishment’s sports betting gaming system.
A Vendor Minor License is required for any person and/or entity who provides services for or acts on behalf of an establishment licensed to operate sports betting gaming, who is not required to obtain a Vendor Major License.
Based on the companies I’ve seen apply for minor vendor status it looks to be a prerequisite for being an affiliate to a Colorado sportsbook. Genius Sports is clearly a ‘major vendor’. Not sure if they have that distinction in Wyoming. Anyway, here’s what Genius Sports had to say about entering the Wyoming market:
Genius Sports Limited (NYSE: GENI) (“Genius Sports”), the official data, technology and commercial partner that powers the ecosystem connecting sports, betting and media, announced today that it has been granted a long term Online Sports Wagering Vendor Permit by the Wyoming Gaming Commission.
With the addition of Wyoming, Genius Sports is now authorized to operate in 15 U.S. states, powering award-winning official data, streaming, and marketing solutions for leading sportsbooks and lotteries.
Mark Locke, CEO of Genius Sports, offered this quote in the Wyoming licensing press release:
“We are honored that the Wyoming Gaming Commission has joined the growing number of U.S. gaming authorities that have granted Genius a betting supplier license. Our team looks forward to working with our industry-leading sportsbook partners to deliver compelling, high integrity sports betting experiences throughout the great state of Wyoming. The momentum behind U.S. sports betting continues to increase and we are excited to help the American market to fulfill its massive potential as we pursue licensing in additional states.”
Both of the sportsbooks that went live today are Genius Sports clients–BetMGM dropped a press release on the occasion of their launch. Wyoming is the 14th state for BetMGM and CEO Adam Greenblatt is happy to be there:
“We’re ecstatic that BetMGM is one of the first mobile sports betting platforms to launch in Wyoming, just in time for the start of the football season. Wyoming is an important state for us as we continue to expand BetMGM’s footprint in the West. We’re confident that its sports fans will enjoy the BetMGM experience.”
Wyoming is the 13th state for DraftKings and Matt Kalish, co-founder and President, DraftKings North America served up the press release quote:
“Legalized sports betting has seen wide-spread growth in just three years and the DraftKings Sportsbook has been at the center of the action. We are thrilled that Wyoming sports bettors have the opportunity to experience the highly accessible and immersive fan experience along with best in class consumer protections that our product offers millions of skin-in-the-game sports fans.”
DraftKings was smart enough to drop a promo for Wyoming fans as well as offer them their current Colorado promo:
To celebrate the launch, DraftKings Sportsbook is offering all Wyoming customers two Double Your Money opportunities – the first on the Colorado Rockies getting a hit and the second on the University of Wyoming Cowboys scoring a point in its home opener on September 4.
DraftKings also noted that unlike most states, in Wyoming they’re not forced to subsidize an analog era gaming dinosaur or partner with a politically connected status quo entity (eg: professional sports teams in Arizona):
Wyoming joins Virginia as the second state this year to permit direct mobile licensing, allowing mobile operators such as DraftKings, which generate a majority of sports betting revenue, to be licensed independent of any tethering to a land-based casino or other brick-and-mortar establishment.
The fact Virginia permits direct mobile licensing has everything to do with the absence of brick and mortar casinos in the state and nothing to do with wanting to create a vibrant, competitive sports betting ecosystem. It’s worth noting that unlike Wyoming, Virginia gave preferential treatment to sportsbooks partnering with pro sports teams (eg: Arizona). Sports betting in Virginia is run by the state lottery–never a good idea–and that their licensing is limited to a bizarre range of a ‘minimum of four online sportsbooks and a maximum of 12’. And how will they determine the right number of licenses? Glad you asked:
The total allowed will be based on what creates the best economic environment for Virginia determined by the Lottery.
What a great idea! A state bureaucracy that knows nothing about sports betting and less than nothing about marketplace dynamics will magically divine the precise number of licenses that will most greatly benefit the Virginia economy. How about let the market determine that itself? What they *really* want is to limit the number of licensees for the same reason it’s done so often in other states–they want to transform what should be a routine bit of regulatory paperwork into a financial and political bargaining chip. There’s also the hefty fees, high tax rate and an absurd requirement for a ‘background check’ into any principal of the company–aka anyone with a 5% ownership interest or in a managerial position–at $50,000 USD a pop. The goal is to create the ecosystem that is in the ‘best economic interest’ for Virginia’s lottery bureaucracy, not the people of the state. Creating a regulatory framework to best serve the sports betting enthusiasts of the state never even crossed their mind.
The intent behind Virginia’s use of direct licensing is the same as Tennessee’s–they don’t have a status quo gaming industry they can use as a means of extracting more onerous fees from would be licenses. They have no interest in easy marketplace access, competitive dynamics and creating a vibrant sports betting ecosystem. They simply have no other choice if they’re going to get on the sports betting gravy train. Wyoming legitimately wants to create a competitive sports betting ecosystem in the state complete with a simple process to access the marketplace, reasonable fees and a minimum of regulatory hoops to jump through. They’re going to let the market determine the ‘winners and losers’ in order to maximize the economic benefit to the state–not let the lottery, governor, legislature or any other bureaucratic body arbitrarily decide. In Wyoming, it’s about economic development. In Virginia, it’s about lottery commission enrichment. The two states have nothing in common whatsoever.