For nearly a year, The Stars Group (TSG) planned to come to Pennsylvania via its partnership with Mount Airy Casino. Now, it is bringing another partner and new look with it.
Wednesday, TSG announced a partnership with Fox Sports to launch free-play and real-money sports betting apps to the US market under the brand name Fox Bet.
Robin Chhabra, CEO of Fox Bet, confirmed Thursday that the real-money app will replace the BetStars brand in New Jersey. Moreover, Fox Bet will launch in Pennsylvania as part of Mount Airy’s sports betting offering.
Fox Bet coming to PA sports betting
Chhabra noted the brand switch in New Jersey should take place prior to the NFL season. Fox Bet intends to launch its free-play feature across the country around the same time.
The free-to-play product gives users an opportunity to predict winners of various sporting events. The highest rate of success nets cash and prizes.
The real-money betting app will be available in states with regulated online sports betting where TSG operates, including Pennsylvania.
Fox latest media group to enter sports betting
Fox Sports made waves Wednesday by announcing that it would acquire a 4.99% equity stake in The Stars Group. Such a move was just the latest in a line of media companies entering the sports betting space.
Recall that theScore Inc., a sports media group out of Canada, still plans on introducing an online sports betting app in New Jersey this summer.
Earlier this year, Caesars Entertainment teamed with Turner Sports to create a “first-of-its-kind” partnership. With it, Turner will create “gaming-themed content” for consumers. To boot, the sportsbook at Caesars Palace Las Vegas will become headquarters of a Bleacher Report-branded studio.
As for mainstream media, the likes of ESPN, NBC Sports, and CBS Sports have all begun airing and publishing content as it relates to legalized sports betting.
Fox Sports, however, has gone one step further by offering a branded app taking real-money wagers. And soon, depending on theScore’s launch, Fox Bet could become the first online sportsbook of its kind.
Don’t expect a fast PA launch for Fox Bet
As noted, The Stars Group already has an entry point for PA sports betting. In August 2018, the company partnered with Mount Airy. However, it was only April when Mount Airy submitted an application to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to offer sports betting.
Because Fox’s ownership in TSG is relatively small, it does not need to be vetted for licenses by PGCB. With that in mind, the new deal should not alter the timeline on TSG launching in PA.
Do not expect the Fox Bet launch to happen quickly. Mount Airy still needs to present its sports betting plans to PGCB. The earliest that will happen is at the next monthly meeting on May 15.
Once those plans are conditionally approved, Mount Airy will get to work prepping its PA retail sportsbook. Only after it is up and running, the company can launch an online betting app.
To offer some perspective, PA retail books that launched in November and December are still not offering online wagering. The first apps should go online sometime later this month. With Mount Airy fairly behind in the process, getting an app up and running by football season is far from a given.
Fox Bet taking the Sky Sport approach
It seems TSG is taking an old play out of its playbook when it comes to launching the Fox Bet app.
The company owns Sky Bet, which operates a sportsbook overseas and added to its portfolio a selection of other forms of online gambling. At one time, it also had a dedicated channel on Sky TV in the United Kingdom.
With Fox Sports swooping in, it would seem that a similar approach will take place on American soil. Certainly, Fox already stands as a recognizable and respectable brand in the US. By merging its media side with legalized sports betting, Fox could take TSG’s position to another level in this country.
“Leveraging our proven media partnership strategy with Sky Sports in the UK,” TSG CEO Rafi Ashkenazi said during an investor call Thursday, “we are excited to partner with Fox Sports to integrate wagering into sports media and drive customer acquisition and retention in the U.S.”