US offers UK bookies solace after FOBT blow

As the decision was made by the US Supreme Court to overturn PASPA, no sooner had British operators commenced celebrating, than they upped the ante on their plans to tap into the US market.

The incentive to break the US market will have only been enhanced by the government’s decision to reduce the maximum stake of FOBTs to just £2, a decision which it’s anticipated could lead to half of UK betting shops closing.

Whilst the coming years will see operators looking to gain the upper hand across the pond, each basked in the optimism that derived from the watershed moment so many had lobbied for on Monday.  

Having begun its US expansion in 2012, William Hill is currently the only European sportsbook with legal operations in the US, the company’s sportsbooks handle 30% of Nevada’s sports (non-racing) betting Gross Gambling Yield (GGY), 60% of the mobile handle, 57% share of sportsbooks with 108 betting locations.

Additionally, given the group has made clear its intentions to expand its US footprint by acquiring a license in Delaware and Iowa with a licence pending in New Jersey, the PASPA repeal inevitably evoked much excitement and jubilation from William Hill.

William Hill Chief Executive Officer Philip Bowcock outlined: “This is a landmark moment for sports betting and for William Hill. Now, all attention shifts to the states, where steps have already been taken to prepare for this day.  Legalised sports betting means that consumers and sports leagues will have greater protection, states will benefit from the raising of taxes and there is the potential for over 100,000 jobs to be created.  

“We welcome the ruling and expect to be operational in New Jersey as soon as responsibly possible. We are also actively working on opportunities in a number of other states and will update on these opportunities as appropriate.”  

It’s also been revealed that with its presence at Monmouth Park, William Hill could be poised to commence taking wagers in New Jersey within a matter of weeks.

Unsurprisingly, given that it’s seemingly positioned to acquire US daily fantasy sports company FanDuel, Paddy Power Betfair also expressed much exuberance as PASPA was struck down by the Supreme Court.

A Paddy Power Betfair Spokesperson stated: “We welcome the Supreme Court’s decision which sets out a path towards an exciting regulated sports betting market in the US. Paddy Power Betfair is well-placed to take advantage of this opportunity through our existing US operations, and the Group’s wider resources and capabilities.

British based betting exchange Smarkets were keen to emphasise that there is still substantial work to be done if the “landmark” decision is to be maximised to its fullest potential, Smarkets CEO Jason Trost commented: “This is a landmark moment for the U.S. which ends the failed 25-year ban on sports wagering.

“While this is a huge victory for the sports betting industry and for consumers, there is a lot of work left to be done at the state legislative level. Smarkets, in conjunction with the American Gaming Association, will continue to engage with state policymakers across the country with the goal of creating a robust and competitive regulated market.

“Having started a betting exchange in the UK, one of the most sophisticated betting environments in the world, there is a chance now for the US, as a leading nation, to shape its own 21st-century regulation and be a leader for the rest of the world.”

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