Bet365 to Become Empire Resorts’ Second-Biggest Shareholder Through Sports Betting Deal

Posted on: November 15, 2018, 07:27h. 

Last updated on: November 15, 2018, 07:34h.

UK sports betting giant Bet365 has teamed up with Resorts World Catskills’ owner Empire Resorts in a deal that will see it provide the Upstate New York casino with digital and physical bookmaking operations — that’s provided New York regulates sports betting, as it is expected to shortly.

Sports betting could be just around the corner for Resorts World Catskills and New York’s three other commercial casinos. Meanwhile, its new major shareholder, Bet365, has been lobbying in the state since June, presumably extolling the benefits of online sports betting. (Image: Empire Resorts)

Bet365 will also acquire up to $50 million of Empire’s common stock, which will see it become the company’s second-biggest shareholder. The primary shareholder in the enterprise is Kien Huat Realty, the parent company of Malaysian casino giant Genting.

Bet365 and Empire will split the proceeds of the sports betting operations 50-50, according to an official statement, released Wednesday.

Regulation Could Come Soon

Sports betting is already nominally legal in New York. Voters authorized it by public referendum in 2013 at the same time that they approved four full-scale, commercial casino licenses, of which Resorts World Catskills is a product.

Because of this, there is broad consensus that the New York State Gaming Commission has the power to draw up a temporary framework of sports betting regulation for the four casinos without the need for additional legislation.

It’s been speculated that the state’s Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo — a supporter of the upstate casinos — had requested a delay on the regulatory framework until after this month’s gubernatorial election because he was eager to avoid controversy during his bid to win a new term. With his reelection secured, the new rules could come to New York sooner rather than later.

Nevertheless, Senator John Bonacic is expected to lead a legislative push next year that will seek to implement permanent regulations and make sports betting available to the state’s racetracks and other gaming operators. Bonacic said recently, though, that he does not anticipate New York regulating online sports betting.

Nevertheless, he believes the market will be worth $500 million per year — around double that of Las Vegas’ — if all of New York’s operators take it up.

Bet365 Lobbying Legislature

With more than 23 million customers globally, Bet365 is one of the largest online gambling operators in the world and has the potential to inject some serious marketing spend into the New York sports betting sector when it finally arrives.

The company has been lobbying for sports betting in New York since June, and — as a customer-facing and (so far) online-only brand — it will no doubt be pushing for full-scale online sports betting, à la New Jersey.

Bet365 has a deal with the Hard Rock to offer online sports betting in Garden State, but the venture is yet to launch.