In a sign that sports betting might be about to take that next step toward ubiquity in the United States, The Stars Group (PokerStars’ parent company) and FOX Sports announced a partnership on Wednesday that will see them launch a sports betting product called FOX Bet.
I said “product,” but FOX Bet will actually launch two separate products this coming fall, presumably in time for the American football season, a months-long Christmas for sports bettors. One is a free-to-play sports betting game that will be available around the country, with cash prizes awarded to top players.
Here Comes Stars
The second product is the most important: a real money sports betting service, which will be the one to take the name FOX Bet. This, naturally, will be available only in states where sports betting is legalized and regulated. The Stars Group already has BetStars in New Jersey, but it hasn’t been doing all that well, so it wouldn’t be the worst guess to think that it might be replaced with FOX Bet. Having the FOX Sports name would give Stars much better brand recognition, especially during football season, as FOX broadcasts several NFL games every Sunday, as well as college games each weekend.
In November, The Stars Group agreed to a deal with Eldorado Resorts in which Stars would be permitted to operate sports betting sites with Eldorado’s license in states where Eldorado has a casino. This could mean that Fox Bet could make its way into Pennsylvania, Nevada, and West Virginia, which all have regulated sports wagering. Indiana also just legalized sports betting on Wednesday. Neither The Stars Group nor FOX Sports commented on where FOX Bet might operate.
“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,” said The Stars Group Chief Executive Officer Rafi Ashkenazi in a press release. “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.”
As part of the deal, which could be as long as 25 years, FOX Corporation will acquire 4.99 percent of The Stars Group’s outstanding common stock, worth about $236 million in total. In additional, FOX Sports will have the right to acquire as much as half of The Stars Group’s U.S. business.
The Stars Group will be able to use FOX Sports branding for its sports betting products and marketing and has agreed to a minimum level of advertising of FOX Bet.
“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,” added Eric Shanks, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Producer of FOX Sports. “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.”