Caesars Signs Sports Betting Deal with ESPN
A deal has been signed between Caesars and ESPN, the premier sports programming entity in the United States. It is unclear if the deal will impact Canada, specifically Ontario, at all. But the pieces of the puzzle indicate a trend toward sports betting prevalence, of which many Canadians would like to be a part.
Providing a bit of background, sports betting has been a hot topic in Ontario of late. Some Ontario government officials have been pushing for single-event sports betting, even going so far as to include it in the most recent budget proposal to give momentum to the topic.
Meanwhile, Caesars Entertainment has also been in the news, recently naming a new CEO amidst merger talks between Caesars and Eldorado Resorts. Caesars has only one casino property in Canada at the current time – Caesars Windsor in Ontario. But it happens to be in the territory that seems most likely to expand its sports betting options.
Caesars and ESPN
Just last week, ESPN and Caesars Entertainment announced a partnership for sports content and sports betting. The deal makes Caesars the official odds data supplier for ESPN on television and all digital platforms. Caesars branding will also be a part of ESPN’s regular programming.
Further, ESPN will build a studio at the Linq, a casino on the Las Vegas Strip owned by Caesars. The studio will subsequently produce sports betting content. The studio is scheduled to be completed sometime in 2020, at which point content will begin production. Daily Wager will be a new show to come out of the studio.
ESPN VP of Business Development Mike Morrison said: “The sports betting landscape has changed, and fans are coming to us for this kind of information more than ever before. We are poised to expand our coverage in a big way, and working with a category leader like Caesars Entertainment will help us serve these highly engaged, diverse sports fans with the best and most relevant content possible.”
Starting in America
The announcement from ESPN and Caesars came on the one-year anniversary of the landmark United Supreme Court decision that overturned PASPA, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act.
That May 2018 decision overturned what was essentially a ban on sports betting in the US. There are very few exceptions to the ban, the most glaring of which is Nevada. Other states wanted in on the action, and the case that made it happen was one filed by the National Collegiate Athletic Association against now-former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for legalising sports betting in that state. The NCAA and other leagues won the original case and the appeal. When it went to the US Supreme Court, though, New Jersey won.
The decision was a solid one of 7-2 in favour of overturning PASPA, as Justice Samuel Alito noted that the law “unequivocally” dictated what a state legislature could do, which Alito called an “affront to state sovereignty.” He went on to write in his opinion that Congress could regulate sports gambling but had thus far elected not to do so, leaving the states to determine their own courses of action.
States then had the right to legalise and regulate sports betting per their constituents’ wishes.
And they did. New Jersey, Delaware, and numerous other states immediately jumped into the sports betting pool. Dozens more states have since legalised or considered laws to allow sports betting in their states to some degree.
Nevada was no longer the only state with legalised sports betting. But establishing Nevada – particularly Las Vegas – as a centre for sports betting, such as could happen as a result of the Caesars/ESPN deal, is one way to compete.
ESPN in Canada
The abbreviation stands for Entertainment and Sports Programming Network. However, everyone knows it as ESPN. It is based in the United States and is a sports channel available on most America cable networks.
ESPN does have an international arm, and it operates a family of channels around the world. Networks are available in the Caribbean, Latin America, Japan, the Philippines, and Brazil.
And then there is Canada.
ESPN’s most prominent presence in Canada is via the ESPN Classic television channel. ESPN owns 20% of it, with Bell Media holding the other 80%. It focusses primarily on archived Canadian sporting events.
The Canadian Bell-ESPN deal also offers Reseau des Sports (RDS) and The Sports Network (TSN). However, they only faintly resemble the ESPN sports broadcasting found on American channels.
Nevertheless, there is hope. With Caesars maintaining a presence in Canada via its Caesars Windsor property and the Ontario government actively pursuing legalised single-event sports betting, there is a chance that the Caesars connection in Ontario could eventually mean something to Canadian sports fans. For now, they must wait and see.