NFL Kickoff Significant Spark for Sports Betting Stocks, Says Macquarie

Posted on: September 12, 2021, 05:00h. 

Last updated on: September 12, 2021, 11:00h.

The 2021 NFL season got going Thursday when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Dallas Cowboys. But the campaign starts in earnest today, and that could be a boon for sports betting stocks, according to some analysts.

sports betting stocks
The 2021 NFL season is here. Analysts see it as a catalyst for sports betting stocks. (Image: AP News)

Football is the most wagered-on sport in the US, and some gaming equities are already reflecting anticipation of football season. For example, DraftKings (NASDAQ:DKNG) is higher by 19.7 percent over the past month, while Caesars Entertainment (NASDAQ:CZR) and Penn National Gaming (NASDAQ:PENN) are up an average of 12 percent over the same span.

iGaming names have rallied during the last month, and we expect this to continue as investors become more comfortable with upcoming revenue estimates, given aggressive marketing, superior product, and overall better media/betting integration,” said Macquarie analysts, led by Chad Beynon, in a recent note to clients.

Macquarie has “outperform” ratings on nine sports betting and iGaming-related equities, including Caesars, DraftKings, MGM Resorts International (NYSE:MGM), and Penn National. MGM is half-owner of the surging BetMGM enterprise.

Expect More M&A Among iGaming, Sports Betting Stocks

One obvious theme emerging in the online gaming space is consolidation. Just last month, DraftKings announced plans to acquire Golden Nugget Online Gaming (NASDAQ:GNOG) for $1.56 billion in equity, while Penn said it’s paying $2 billion in cash and equity to acquire Score Media and Gaming (NASDAQ:SCR).

Add to that, Caesars last week finally announced a buyer — 888 Holdings — for William Hill’s international assets, and there’s much more in the way of iGaming and sports wagering mergers and acquisitions chatter. Those rumors involve everything from divestments of specific units to outright takeovers.

“Tribal operators such as Hard Rock Digital could be another consolidating force. Bottom line, we believe consolidation in the industry is not over, a notion that was echoed by MGM CFO Jonathan Halkyard at a dinner we recently hosted,” said Beynon and team.

Indeed, MGM could make the biggest splash in the online gaming industry space. That’s if it opts to make another run at Entain Plc (OTC:GMVHY) and is successful in acquiring its partner on the Bet MGM business. Some traders believe the UK is ripe for consolidation activity, and view Entain as the most likely British company to be acquired before the end of this year.

For Sports Betting Stocks, Football Is Big Deal

While most of the universe of sports betting stocks is comprised of newer companies, there’s no refuting that football is the needle mover for the group in the US.

“We estimate that football accounts for 35-40 percent of the annual revs, although most of this comes in 4Q (~33 percent of annual revs),” said the Macquarie analysts.

One point analysts and investors will surely be monitoring when third- and fourth-quarter earnings reports start rolling in is how much betting companies are spending on customer acquisition — a relevant point, because some of the marquee names in the online wagering space aren’t yet profitable.

On that note, NBC Sports recently said it’s seeing strong demand from sportsbook advertisers for spots on Sunday Night Football. BetMGM, Caesars Entertainment, DraftKings, FanDuel, FOX Bet, PointsBet, and WynnBet are the NFL’s approved sportsbook advertisers this year. Each broadcast can contain a maximum of six sportsbook ads.