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Coming: The First-Ever Super Bowl Where Legal Bets Will Flood In From 14 States, Not Just Nevada

2nd January, 19:02

Casinos and tracks have partnered up big time with online platforms and sports leagues for bets and marketing.

NFL pundits will begin lining up en masse this week as the wild card round of the playoffs begin. At the same time, the nation's bookies and football fun bettors will start their annual excitement rush. Over 26 million Americans, as estimated by the American Gaming Association, will open their wallets and make a lay down on the game.

Only this year, for the first time ever, there's a new sheriff in town: Legal sports wagering is now legal in 14 states, and there's more to come. According to the AGA, the nation's football fans wagered around $4.7 billion on the games last year. There are no reliable numbers that tell us just how much of that amount was bet through bookies onshore or through overseas websites. Nor do we know how much was bet at office pools, friend to friend, or through charitable organizations. We expect this year that the bulk of personal betting, inside or adjacent to legal wagering sites, will fall to casinos and racetracks authorized to conduct such wagering in the 14 states.

Another seven states now are in the advanced stages of pending bills that - according to the belief of a consensus of industry people we spoke with - will also go live sometime this year. That would bring the national total to 21 states legal before the end of 2020. Morgan Stanley is estimating that 36 states will have fully legal sports betting by 2025. This is a fast-moving train. Its time to get on.

In 2019, total legal sports betting reached around $15.7 billion according to a Legal Sports Report study. But bear in mind the last Super Bowl bet number benefited from only a handful of states that were then legal. That number, as noted, is now 14. We have researched with sports book operators regionally, and with several retired bookmakers in key states and cities. Based on our internal archived sports betting metrics from Nevada, we estimate here what we believe will be the amount wagered legally for the upcoming event.

The granddaddy of them all, Nevada, posted around $148 million in Super Bowl bets last year.

States in which sports betting is now legal: New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Mississippi, New York (for racing), West Virginia, Rhode Island, Arkansas, Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, New Mexico, Oregon, Montana.

On the basis of this research we believe something around $1 billion will be bet legally on the game this year. Forecasting the hold percentage will have much to do with odds, betting lines and, of course, the two teams. For example the heaviest action will of course emanate from the home markets of the two conference champions. Home team fans bet considerable amounts on teams they root for no matter where the betting line lands.

As it is well known, some NFL teams - like the Dallas Cowboys, for example - have masses of fans outside of Texas and are in effect national in scope of fandom. This impacts both handle and hold percentages. So we take as a baseline the 7% hold achieved in the state of New Jersey during 2019 out of an estimated handle of $4.7 billion for the year.

Our estimate is that Super Bowl national legal handle should break near or around $2 billion for this year's game, depending on who plays of course. If the 7% averaged hold or win for last year remains, that becomes $140 billion in win. Almost all of that revenue will fall into first-quarter 2020 earnings of stand-alone online. That is the pure sports betting number. To get a truer grasp on the actual revenue impact in the 14 legal states we also need to capture the estimated ancillary revenue generated by increases in foot traffic during the playoffs and game itself.

That will produce hotel room revenue and food and beverage, and inject crossover gaming action onto the casino floor. We estimate around 15% of Super Bowl attendees at casino event parties will also migrate onto the casino floor and play table games. So we add that into our expectations: The incremental value of sports betting on a massive scale for the first time will have a direct effect on revenue generation in venues where it is legal. Our call is that the average attendee this year at a casino Super Bowl event will have a spend - including a game bet, casino migration spend, hotel, food and beverage, entertainment and shopping - of around $450.

(Above: sports books will be jammed in 14 states for first ever truly national legal betting on the big game).

Following results from existing states to date, we find a rough 80% mobile/online wagering total to 20% for live sports book action. But experience shows us that a large number of visitors to casinos, for the purpose of betting on the game, will still place their wagers on their phones on premises for any number of reasons. So while they may not line up in droves at the sports book windows to bet, they will be on their phones from anywhere else on a casino property placing their bets. The theater areas of the sports books will be jammed, the buffet lines long, the hotels fully booked.

Super Bowl events at casinos are marketed across the board by segments. VIP players get to attend private parties hosted by big-name players from the local teams or other celebrities. Mid-level players may also attend invitation-only events. The bulk of the attendees will participate in mass ballroom events with the game shown on huge screens. They will get pizza, hot dogs and burgers, T-shirts. In the past, only customers of casinos in Nevada and Delaware were able to bet the game legally in the state. Now it is literally a brand new ball game coming up.

As of December 2019, the legal states generated $15.7 billion in handle for the year, according to Legal Sports Report, winning 7% or $1.1 billion. A good deal of this action will have migrated from the illegal sector, but it will also include new bettors culled out of the massive data banks of the daily fantasy sports players from companies like Fan Duel or Draft Kings. This injection will bring a needed millennial injection of visitation to casinos nationally.

The numbers will vary depending on who plays, what markets will have the massive injection of passionate fan base betting, the TV ratings, odds, betting lines, etc. But overall the underlying silver lining here is that Super Bowl betting crosses all demographic lines and geography. It's a national ritual.

And right behind it comes the next huge betting event: The NCAA Final Four Tournament. Last year an estimated 40 million people filled out their brackets and bet close to $5 billion on the games. If you add that handle to the Super Bowl, you will approach between $8 billion and $9 billion wagered in total. How many of those 40 million people have migrated to or live in the 14 now-legal states, or have access to a legal site, is unknown at this point. But we can safely assume a 5 million number.

Together, then, these two mega sports events will essentially christen the new world of a new industry being born as legalization marches close to 21 states imminently.

Meanwhile here are the stocks we believe can get a first-quarter 2020 earnings boost from these watershed events - the most likely companies to show first-quarter earnings contribution due to the two huge sports betting events falling in the quarter.

We selected these companies based on several key criteria apart from any standard metric evaluations. Our view is that based on their geographic spread of properties either inside or adjacent to legal sports betting states. It also takes into consideration that all have ongoing deals with sports-betting platforms and branding deals with pro leagues to either run their live sports books or partner with them in online skins (betting brands) and marketing. We are in very early stages of this burgeoning industry. We believe the companies noted here will have competitive staying power despite the balkanization of the business that has already taken root. This will be a bruising battle for market share. The market, however, is big enough and deep enough to accommodate many brands at this point.

(States where sports betting has constituted legalized tribal casinos will enjoy a similar boost. They are not listed because they are not public companies).

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