New York is, for all intents and purposes, the center of the universe. So it should come as no surprise that PlayNY will find a way to make two basically non-NY-related news items all about the Empire State.
Ready? Here it goes.
The major announcement of an impending ESPN-branded sports wagering platform and the Friday news dump that Wynn is shutting down its underwhelming sports betting platform everywhere except New York are both more important for NY sports betting than anywhere else.
In all seriousness, the two seemingly unrelated events could seriously alter the NY online sports gambling landscape.
Will Wynn give up its seat to ESPN at the NY sports betting table?
As it currently stands, there’s no room for ESPN Bet NY to go live in the country’s largest sports betting market. That would be NY, of course.
All nine of NY’s available online sports wagering licenses are spoken for.
One of the NY licenses belongs to WynnBet Sportsbook NY, a laggard of a sportsbook if there ever was one. In fact, WynnBet was such a poor performer nationwide that Wynn Resorts, one of the most successful gambling companies in the world, decided to fold up shop in eight states.
But Wynn did not get to be one of the world’s leading gaming companies by making foolish business decisions. The company is well aware that its NY online sports wagering license is a valuable asset. Especially after seeing PointsBet sell its US operations to Fanatics for $225 million recently, allowing Fanatics to potentially acquire PointsBet’s NY sports betting license next month.
Never underestimate the power of the House of Mouse
ESPN, a Disney-owned company, has deep pockets. Despite recent layoffs at the network, the Worldwide Leader in Sports is still very much, well, the worldwide leader in sports.
Comparisons to Fox, Yahoo!, Maxim or Sports Illustrated (all of whom have, thus far, failed miserably at running online sportsbooks) are ridiculous, as ESPN has a larger influence in the sports universe than all of those brands combined.
The move by Wynn to shut down its internet sportsbook everywhere but NY was deliberate and strategic. Wynn Resorts paid $25 million for the license in NY, and the bean counters at company headquarters in Las Vegas are not going to just toss that kind of money away. Wynn shareholders would never allow it, either.
ESPN and its gambling partner Penn Entertainment are expecting to capture roughly 20% of legal online sports betting market share in the US within the next three years with ESPN Bet.
Getting into the NY sports gambling market early would all but assure an easy path to success for the new business partners.
FanDuel, DraftKings should be worried about ESPN Bet NY
Should ESPN Bet find its way into NY, the national dominance currently enjoyed by FanDuel Sportsbook and DraftKings Sportsbook would almost certainly be put to the test. The two DFS-sites-turned-sportsbooks have a considerable head start. But they haven’t faced a competitor the likes of ESPN yet.
The Big Apple could take center stage in the battle of legal sports gambling giants.
Who are we kidding? There’s no “could” about it. Of course NY is the main attraction. The lights shine brighter here.
And we wouldn’t expect anything different.