Bookmakers that are Taking over the Sports Betting World
The global sports betting industry has been in a state of flux for the past few years. It all started with the seismic news from the US Supreme Court in 2018 – PASPA, the law that banned betting on any kind of sports in the world’s richest economy, was no longer constitutionally valid.
The ruling effectively opened the floodgates to the US betting market – it is currently worth close to $10 billion. Now keep in mind that is with just 20 out of the 49 states having legal gambling. Industry projections indicate that the US could generate at least $37 billion in wagers by 2025. Even during a global pandemic, with sports leagues disrupted around the world, big betting companies are still accepting wagers from players through online sportsbooks. The value of the industry has remained above $200 billion.
In this context, the following bookmakers are making waves in the sports betting world:
One of the globe's premier sports betting brands did not exist 15 years ago – it is quite shocking that Betway was launched as recently as 2006. In 2021, Super Group, the holding company owning Betway was valued at around $5 billion.
Betway is a familiar name in sports, with strategic use of sponsorships. In football, the company is a partner of famous clubs like West Ham United, Brighton, Werder Bremen, Leicester City, and Tottenham.
It is also the biggest sponsor of horse racing in the UK and Ireland. Outside Europe, Betway has also expanded heavily in Africa, becoming the continent’s leading sports betting brand. It is the sponsor of the South Africa cricket team and the Mzansi T20 league.
But its best days are yet to come – Betway is heavily investing in the wildly exciting North American betting market. It has already inked deals with major teams in the NBA and NHL. In April 2021, Super Group went public on the New York Stock Exchange as part of its US expansion plans.
As part of going public, owners Super Group acquired a licensed US betting firm – the DGC Entertainment Group – giving Betway fully licensed access to ten US states with legalized online sports betting. The move is expected to gain the approval of authorities by end of 2021.
Paddy Power – Betfair (Flutter Entertainment)
The history of Paddy Power – Betfair or Flutter is incredibly long and equally messy. Paddy Power was an Irish bookmaker established in 1988. Betfair was its bitter rival in England, launched in 2000. Both firms competed for the lucrative UK and European betting markets until the mid-2010s.
Faced with stricter regulations and technology challenges, the two rivals decided to join hands and create the world's biggest sports betting firm, valued at over $6 billion. The name was rebranded to Flutter in 2019.
The company has sports betting operations in the UK, Ireland, Italy, and Australia. Even before the repeal of PASPA, it had invested heavily in the North American market, acquiring Fan Duel – the local fantasy sports brand.
That move has paid off spectacularly in the last 3-4 years – as of 2021, Flutter owns an amazing 45% of the US sports betting market. This stat should give some food for thought - when they bought a 58% stake in Fan Duel before the legalization of sports betting, it only cost Paddy Power – Betfair $158 million.
But a few years after legalization, they paid a whopping $4.2 billion for the remaining 37% stake – showing just how far the US betting market had come after legalization. Flutter also has strategic deals in the US with Boyd Casinos and Fox Sports for maximum expansion.
William Hill is a revered name in sports betting, dating its origins back to 1934. Over the decades the bookmaker has had numerous owners but retained its London roots. As recently as April 2021, the brand was acquired by the famous Caesars Entertainment Group.
The acquisition was partly powered by the decline in offline betting shops due to COVID. In the last decade, William Hill had slowly acquired a significant online gambling presence, to add to its 1000+ betting shops in the UK and Ireland.
As early as 2012, the company had expanded into the US betting market, buying bookmakers in Nevada – the only state with legal sports betting then. When betting was legalized all over the US, it expanded into states like New Jersey.
With the new deal, Caesars will own the William Hill bookmaker branding in the US. The deal put the value of the brand at a cool $3.7 billion. Backed by the resources of the Caesars casino empire, William Hill is poised to expand heavily into North American gambling markets in the coming years.
Kindred Group (Unibet)
Kindred Group was originally called Unibet. The company was founded in 1997 in Sweden, Stockholm, specializing in an online gambling and betting platform. Rapid expansion in the 2000s allowed Unibet to acquire numerous other betting brands.
As the number of brands grew, they decided to rebrand as Kindred Group, with Unibet working as a sub-brand specializing in sports betting. The Group currently valued at over $4 billion, has operations in 11 major markets, including the UK, EU, Australia, and the United States as well.
A partnership with the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City gave Kindred Group a foothold in the New Jersey betting market in 2018. They have also entered the Pennsylvania market with another casino partner – this time the Mohegan Sun Pocono near Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania.
In the absence of legal sports betting, many US sports enthusiasts turned to fantasy sports – it was considered as a game of skill, not chance by the US courts. Two companies dominated this arena in 2018 – Fan Duel and Draft Kings.
After the repeal of PASPA, both brands entered the sports betting market in separate ways. While Fan Duel merged with Flutter, Draft Kings opted to go solo. The company went public in 2020 and was valued at over $6 billion – not bad for a startup from 2012!
In terms of market presence, Draft Kings has fantasy sports operations in the US, UK, and European Union. In sports betting, they have launched online sportsbooks in New Jersey, New York, New Hampshire, West Virginia, and Mississippi.
When it comes to partnerships, they include all major sports leagues like the MLB and NFL, as well as teams from the NHL, NBA, NASCAR, UFC, and the WNBA. Fox Sports, ESPN, Bleacher Report are all media partners. Popular figures like Michael Jordan and Vince McMahon are investors in this rising name in US sports betting.