The owners of Parx Casino were left toasting Treyvon Hester on Sunday night after he managed to get his fingertips to Cody Parkey’s last-ditch field goal attempt. The Chicago Bears’ kicker looked all but certain to deliver the three points that would send them through to the NFL Divisional Round at the Philadelphia Eagles’ expense. But Hester’s timely intervention helped divert the kick onto the upright in a “double doink” that was heard around the world. Cue pandemonium among Eagles fans celebrating the unlikeliest of 16-15 victories, and a sigh of relief from the executive team at Greenwood Gaming.
They put in an application to launch sportsbooks at two of their properties, Parx Casino and the South Philly Turf Club, all the way back in August 2018 alongside Hollywood Casino operator Penn National. Hollywood Casino flung its doors open in November, while the Eagles were still navigating their way through the regular season, and it has been raking in the cash. Greenwood was expected to swiftly follow suit, but it has spent the ensuing time fine-tuning its offer and it only just launched its sportsbook at Parx Casino in Bensalem on Thursday.
NFL Betting is Going Through the Roof
The casino is just outside Philadelphia, right in the heart of Eagles territory, and the city is abuzz with excitement following the team’s heroics. They won the Super Bowl last season, but struggled badly this time around. Their chances of success were written off when starting quarterback Carson Wentz was struck down with another season-ending injury. But Nick Foles, the backup QB that stepped into his shoes and drove the team to a massive underdog victory last season, provided more fireworks, inspiring them to three straight wins.
They were expected to suffer a pummelling in Chicago, but the underdogs upset the odds once again to set up a huge clash with the New Orleans Saints this coming weekend. Now Greenwood Gaming can finally get a piece of the action, as it launched Pennsylvania’s fourth regulated sportsbook on Thursday. It comes replete with seven teller windows and 45 betting kiosks, on the same site as Parx Casino’s slots and table games and the Parx racetrack.
The sportsbook is powered by European white label supplier Kambi, which announced this week: “With the Parx Casino sportsbook up and running, attention turns to launching additional Kambi-powered sportsbooks at Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment’s South Philadelphia Turf Club and Valley Forge Turf Club, with the former expected to be ready for regulatory testing next week.”
That will give Greenwood Gaming three land-based sportsbooks in and around Philadelphia, with a mobile offering expected soon, giving it a strong position in that the Keystone State. They should all be up and running in time for the Super Bowl, which is always the industry’s strongest day of the year. “Parx is expanding its portfolio of offerings to give patrons the absolute best of all types of legalized gaming, and sports wagering is just the latest stage in enhancing our customer offering,” said senior vice president Matthew Cullen.
All Eyes on the Super Bowl
The Super Bowl will be a colossal event for America’s nascent regulated sports betting industry. For the first time in years, fans will be able to place legal wagers on the big game outside of Nevada, with Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, West Virginia, Mississippi, Rhode Island and New Mexico all rolling out regulated sportsbooks. However, the game’s announcers will not be discussing any betting lines in the build-up to the game. “We will be flexible going forward, but it’s only been legalized in a few states so far,” McManus told Reuters. “It wasn’t something we were going to in some ways burden our announcers with.”
Last year, Americans wagered an estimated $5 billion on the Super Bowl, which saw the Eagles stun the New England Patriots, and 97% of those bets were placed illegally, according to the American Gaming Association. This year the big challenge for the legal sports betting industry in states like New Jersey and Pennsylvania is to steal market share from unregulated offshore books that have been thriving for years, and built up strong relationships with their customers. Many hope that the fun and camaraderie of watching the big game with fellow fans in comfortable surroundings at glittering new sportsbooks will tempt punters out of their armchairs.
The NFL is getting into sports betting in a big way, and it now has a casino sponsor as legal sports wagering spreads like wildfire across the US. The sports leagues vehemently opposed the advent of sports wagering, but they appear to have realised they were fighting a losing battle and they are now starting to use multiple tactics to monetise it. The NFL has tied up a deal with Caesars to become the first ever “official casino sponsor” of the league, following deals inked by the NBA, NHL and MLB with rival MGM Grand. “We couldn’t be more excited to work with one of the world’s largest gaming and entertainment companies,” said Renie Anderson, senior vice president, NFL partnerships, sponsorship and consumer products. “Combining the NFL with Caesars’ expertise in world-class entertainment will provide our fans unique experiences both here in the United States and abroad.”
No Time for Rewarding Bad Behaviour
The sports leagues are still demanding an integrity fee from operators, which essentially amounts to a cut of their revenues. But Chris Christie, the former New Jersey governor who lobbied hard to legalize sports betting, said the leagues should “get the hell out” of the industry, while also urging Congress not to meddle either. “The leagues – the arrogance of the leagues – is the other thing we need to talk about,” he told the gathered audience at the winter meeting of the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States. “All of you now are going to have these folks coming in to your state capitals and arguing to you that they should somehow now get something for free from you, that they were unwilling to settle on when they were in the midst of litigation.”
He said that he offered the leagues a compromise many times during the battle to legalize sports betting and create a framework for it, including a fee. “They laughed at me,” he said. “Every one of them laughed at me. They’re not laughing anymore. They don’t have to be our enemy, and they shouldn’t be. But we don’t need to turn over these monies to those leagues. They don’t need it, and given their conduct over the last seven years, I’d argue to you they don’t deserve it. And if you do it, you’re rewarding bad behaviour.”