- Fubo Sportsbook is now ‘live’ with mobile and online sports betting in Arizona.
- Fubo Sportsbook is a sports betting platform created by the gaming subsidiary of fuboTV.
- Fubo Sportsbook launched in Iowa in early November and has market access deals in Pennsylvania, Indiana and New Jersey.
Fubo Sportsbook is now offering mobile and online sports betting in two US states. They launched in Iowa in early November and today announced the debut of their sportsbook platform in Arizona. Fubo Sportsbook has plans to add more states to their portfolio in 2022 as they expand their footprint. Based in Chicago, Fubo Sportsbook is the sports betting subsidiary of live TV streaming platform fuboTV. For now, that capitalization is correct–the streaming network uses the lowercase ‘f’ with the sportsbook using the uppercase ‘F’. I really hope they standardize it one way or another as it is a pain to keep switching back and forth when writing and article about them.
No one really thought much when sports focus streaming platform fuboTV went public with their plans to get into the sports betting business. To facilitate their move, fuboTV purchased Vigtory, a gaming technology company. A number of gaming companies have purchased technology companies just to allow them to have the sportsbook platform ‘in house’. Here’s the backstory on Vigtory from the fuboTV press release announcing the deal:
Vigtory was founded in 2019 by Sam Rattner and backed by SeventySix Capital. Rattner is a digital sports entrepreneur who is noted for developing and integrating sports betting content and technology with robust consumer experiences. Rattner previously founded Engine Sports, a back-testing engine allowing retail sports bettors the ability to build algorithmic betting strategies within an interactive experience. Scott Butera, who was the president of interactive gaming at MGM Resorts International and was instrumental in launching BetMGM, joined Vigtory as Rattner’s co-CEO in 2020. Prior to MGM, Butera was commissioner of the Arena Football League and held C-suite leadership positions at Foxwoods Resort Casino, Tropicana Entertainment, Cosmopolitan Resort and Casino and Trump Entertainment, among other gaming businesses.
Under the proposed acquisition, both Butera and Rattner will join fuboTV’s gaming division as president and COO, respectively.
Vigtory was especially attractive as they not only had the sportsbook platform but a pipeline of market access agreements including one in Iowa through Casino Queen. That would become the debut launch state for Fubo Sportsbook. The ‘long game’ for fuboTV and the Fubo Sportsbook is to integrate the two for a seamless viewing and sports betting experience. Here’s how fuboTV co-founder and CEO David Gandler described the synergy at the time of the Vigtory purchase:
“The proposed acquisition of Vigtory will give fuboTV the technology to build a consumer-driven sports betting product and launch it before the end of this year. It will also help us solve two hurdles that challenge other media companies who want to enter the wagering market. First, Sam and Scott have years of experience navigating the complex gaming regulatory environment and, in fact, already have a first market access agreement completed. Second, fuboTV can leverage its own first party user behavior data to understand our consumers’ viewing preferences, and when and how to prompt them to consider placing bets. Uniquely, fuboTV will be a media company and sportsbook all-in-one.”
Here’s some more context about Fubo Sportsbook’s game plan from the press release announcing their launch in Iowa:
More than a wagering platform, Fubo Sportsbook is purpose-built to meet U.S. sports fans’ growing demand for interactivity through an industry-first integration of an owned-and-operated sports wagering platform with a live TV streaming experience. By integrating with fuboTV, the mobile app delivers a personalized omniscreen experience that turns passive viewers into active and engaged participants. Fubo Sportsbook is launching with a unique feature, Watching Now, which leverages fuboTV’s first-party user data to allow users to instantly view wagering content based upon what they are streaming – even as they change the channel. Fubo Gaming intends to continue iterating the app, launching additional features, subject to regulatory approval, that will further integrate wagering into the fuboTV platform, to create an even more immersive and personalized experience.
There’s been a number of companies to articulate the idea but fuboTV (and Fubo Sportsbook) have the assets to actually make it work. The problem–as noted in the previous paragraph–is the bit about ‘subject to regulatory approval’. The actual sports betting marketplace is essentially ten or so states. With these few exceptions, the states that have launched sports betting are a mishmash of lottery run monopolies, substandard betting options and anti-competitive regulatory frameworks. The result–wittingly or unwittingly–is a watered down version of sports betting in which a small group of incumbents are prohibited. Under this predominant scenario, it makes it tough for new and innovative companies like Fubo Sportsbook to get market traction.
Fubo Sportsbook is clearly aware of this reality and they’ve made some strong hires to help navigate the company through the mess. One excellent hire was Ali Ghanavati to serve as head of regulatory technology for Fubo Gaming. Ghanavati has considerable experience on the regulatory side of the industry including a stint as deputy chief of the Technical Services Bureau for the State of New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, where he consulted with numerous state agencies and gaming jurisdictions regarding casino gaming regulation and standards.
Another hire that might not be a ‘household name’ to the mainstream but should be very valuable to Fubo on the regulatory front as well. Former Penn National Gaming executive Carl Sottosanti was added to the board of the directors and to serve as chairman of the gaming compliance committee. Sottosanti is a lawyer by trade and served as executive vice president and general counsel for Penn National. His focus was primarily on M & A, gaming development opportunities, corporate governance and compliance. He led the legal component of all of the recent major deals at Penn National including he Barstool Sports and Pinnacle Entertainment acquisitions. Another excellent personnel move that gives Fubo Gaming industry experience and specialized knowledge right where they need it the most.
Arizona is a mixed bag when it comes to sports betting. They have created a reasonably competitive regulatory environment but ‘behind the scenes’ it’s a complete grease fire. Here’s what I said about it recently:
The (Arizona) market continues to expand despite the fact that at the regulatory level it does little more than serve the needs of state politicians’ political cronies and financial benefactors. Amid this sleaze, there is a fairly decent sports betting ecosystem coming together. Granted, it could be one of the best in the US were it not for the closed door machinations of state government. Instead, they get–as I described it earlier this year:
…a mishmash of dimwitted incompetence and sheer imperiousness on the part of the state’s political elite. In particular, the process of license allocation is nothing more than shameless cronyism and log-rolling with a veneer of objectivity slapped on create some ‘plausible deniability’.
Arizona has the 14th largest population in the US and would be doing massive numbers if the state’s government were more concerned about developing the sports betting ecosystem and not just juicing in a small group of political cronies. At some point, I’m hoping that the regulatory cesspool is cleaned up but until then there’s at least a reasonably good sports betting market for players.
Had sports betting in Arizona been done properly they could be doing massive business. Maybe not quite as much as New Jersey (with a population of approximately 2 million more) but in the same ballpark. Instead, they’ll do decent business but come nowhere near reaching their potential. For bettors, there’s definitely many worse states and I’m glad to see Fubo Sportsbook in the mix. Fubo’s partner in Arizona is the Ak-Chin Indian Community which owns the Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino located right outside the Phoenix metro area in Maricopa. If traffic cooperates you can make the drive from downtown Phoenix to the Ak-Chin property in under an hour. As you’d expect, the retail betting at Harrah’s Ak-Chin is operated by Caesars Sportsbook.
Here’s some of the quotes about the Arizona launch starting with Scott Butera, president, Fubo Gaming. Butera came over to Fubo with the Vigtory purchase:
“We are honored to partner with our first Native American tribe, the Ak-Chin Indian Community, to launch our market-defining sportsbook within the great state of Arizona. In less than a year of establishing Fubo Gaming, we brought our sports betting platform to passionate sports communities across two states and look forward to continuing introducing our unique product to many more consumers.”
David Gandler, co-founder and CEO, fuboTV, is rightfully proud that the gaming team went from announcement to launch in two states in under a year. It wouldn’t surprise me if they’re able to add a third state to the mix within a year from announcement which is downright amazing:
“Fubo Sportsbook is a major pillar of fuboTV’s mission to integrate interactivity into our live TV streaming platform and define a new category of interactive sports and entertainment television. I’m very proud of how quickly the Fubo Gaming team has brought Fubo Sportsbook to market: from our announcement to expand into online sports wagering to the launch of Fubo Sportsbook in Arizona, our second state, all in the same year.”
Robert Miguel, chairman, Ak-Chin Indian Community, is happy to be working with Fubo Sportsbook:
“We’re so excited this day is finally here. The Ak-Chin Indian Community is proud to work with an industry-leading partner like Fubo Gaming in the development of its mobile app for online sports wagering, and we look forward to providing our customers the premier gaming experience they’ve come to expect.”
Glad that things are going so well for Fubo Sportsbook and their presence in the US sports betting ecosystem is definitely a ‘net positive’. My hopeful scenario about sports betting in the US is that with so many heavy hitters either already in the gaming or looking to get in the game–among them Disney with ESPN–that they can help shape the regulatory framework in states that are coming online. More significantly, it’s going to take money and power to clean up the carnage in the states like Oregon and Montana that have already screwed things up. The ‘downside risk’ is that the newcomers to the sports betting party get fed up with the regulatory situation and transparent efforts by state governments to protect incumbents and stifle innovation. The ‘killing the golden goose’ scenario is a real danger for the US sports betting market which is largely at the mercy of bumbling politicians, clueless lottery officials and anti-competitive regulators. My gut instinct is that there’s too much money on the table for the major companies in and out of the gaming sector to just cut and run.