Seeking to capitalize on the ongoing sports betting regulation gold rush, FOX Sports has joined forces with online gaming giant The Stars Group. The sports-focused wing of FOX Broadcasting Company and the parent company of PokerStars will collaborate on the launch of a new sports wagering brand dubbed FOX Bet.
Per a jointly issued press release, the partners target Fall of 2019 as the planned launch date for a pair of FOX Bet products.
Along with a free-to-play sports betting prediction contest available nationwide, FOX Bet’s centerpiece will be a real money online sportsbook platform offered in states with legal sports wagering industries.
In the aforementioned press release, Eric Shanks – who serves as chief executive officer and executive producer of FOX Sports – explained how developing a sportsbook app will serve the company’s interests:
“FOX Sports is already synonymous with the best live sports events in the country and now we are expanding the way we immerse fans in the sports culture they love.
Digital sports wagering represents a growing market opportunity that allows us to diversify our revenue streams, connect directly with consumers and expand the reach of the FOX Sports brand.”
Rafi Ashkenazi – chief executive officer for The Stars Group – offered his own comments on the global online poker leader furthering its expansion into sports betting:
“We believe this strategic partnership uniquely positions us to build a leading betting business in the U.S., which represents one of the most exciting long-term growth opportunities for our company.
Leveraging our proven media partnership strategy with Sky Sports in the UK, we are excited to partner with FOX Sports to integrate wagering into sports media and drive customer acquisition and retention in the U.S.”
To cement the newly minted partnership, FOX Sports acquired a 4.99 percent stake in The Stars Group, a Toronto-based company previously known as Amaya until a late 2017 rebrand. The deal – which may span up to 25 years per the press release – saw 14,352,331 newly issued common shares change hands at a price of $16.44 per share, creating a total acquisition price of nearly $236 million.
At any point before the 10-year anniversary of the original acquisition, FOX Sports has the right to absorb additional equity, up to 50 percent, in The Stars Group.
As part of a companywide attempt to pivot away from internet poker, The Stars Group launched its BetStars online sportsbook throughout European markets in December of 2015.
By September of last year, BetStars entered its first regulated American market by securing a license to operate in New Jersey. At some point this year, BetStars will also go live as part of Pennsylvania’s regulated iGaming industry.
But while rival platforms like FanDuel and DraftKings are dominating revenue reports in the Garden State, BetStars lags well behind the two daily fantasy sports (DFS) titans, along with competitors like William Hill U.S. and 888 Sport.
That state of affairs all but assures that BetStars NJ will soon be rebranded as FOX Bet.
Even as the New Jersey sports betting scene continues to establish new revenue records by the month, FOX Sports has its sights set on emerging markets all across the country.
The Stars Group signed a sports betting deal with brick and mortar casino operator Eldorado Resorts in November of last year.
That agreement allows The Stars Group to link up with Eldorado’s land-based casinos – located in 11 states (Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, Ohio, and West Virginia) – which are licensed to offer sports betting in regulated markets.
Nevada obviously has online sports betting on demand, while West Virginia launched the state’s first legal online sportsbooks in August of last year. Indiana and Iowa approved their own sports betting laws this month, while Colorado, Illinois, and Louisiana are considering similar legislation.