Verizon Plots Entry into Future US Online Sports Betting Market

Posted on: January 24, 2018, 02:00h. 

Last updated on: January 24, 2018, 02:37h.

Telecoms giant Verizon is gambling on the US Supreme Court legalizing sports betting, according to sources who confided in Bloomberg this week.

Verizon mulls US sports betting venture
Through its takeover of Yahoo, which came with a readymade daily fantasy sports site, Verizon has the potential to be a big player in a future regulated US sports betting market. (Image: Verizon)

The anonymous insiders claimed Verizon has been meeting with consultants to discuss the feasibility of entering the online sports betting space, should the opportunity become available in the US.

Hopes are high that SCOTUS will strike down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), the law that forbids states from regulating sports betting within their borders. It’s a decision that’s expected early this year and one that could unleash a multi-billion-dollar industry, on which Verizon could be uniquely positioned to capitalize.

Through its recent $4.5 billion acquisition of Yahoo, it has a connection to 1.3 billion internet users, as well as its own daily fantasy sports site, which could be converted into a sports book with a readymade customer base in the event of a change in the law.

It also has streaming rights to some NFL and NBA, which would allow a future Verizon online sports book to offer live broadcasts alongside its betting lines.

Patents Pending

It’s been speculated that many of America’s tech giants would be well-positioned to enter a future market. Last May, ESPN suggested that the big players in the market might not be the names you traditionally associate with gambling in the US, noting that Microsoft, Sony, Reuters and Wall Street financial firm Cantor Fitzgerald, all had sports betting-related patents pending.

Verizon Chief Financial Officer Matt Ellis played down, but did not deny, the speculation in an interview with Bloomberg on Tuesday, however.

“There are some changes coming that we pay attention to,” he said. “We stay close to that to see how it would affect our assets and how we may choose to respond. I’ve not looked at anything in detail. If someone has an idea around it, I’ll look at it like any other. But we are not getting ahead of ourselves there.”

$245 Billion Market

According to a recent study by Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, a regulated US sports betting market could be worth $15.8 billion annually, with an estimated 44 million Americans betting $245 billion per year.

The American Gaming Association has estimated Americans spend around $140 billion on illegal sports betting per year, much of which is used to fund criminal activity.

New Jersey, which brought the case to the SCOTUS, argues that PASPA is a violation of its Tenth Amendment rights and has called it a “federal takeover of New Jersey’s legislative apparatus.”