FTC to block DFS company merger

A proposed merger between DraftKings, Inc. and FanDuel, Inc. will be challenged by the Federal Trade Commission.  The FTC claims that the merger would create a company that controls more than 90 percent of the market.

In the past rivals, the companies decided to join forces in November 2016 as each fought state regulators to get Daily Fantasy Sports legalized.  According to data from Eilers and Krejcik Gaming, the two companies have 95 percent of daily fantasy sports.

The FTC will file a lawsuit requesting a preliminary injunction to prevent the companies from closing the deal while it proceeds with an internal review to determine if the merger is legal under antitrust law.

Nevada law establishes esports betting in state

A new Nevada law signed by the Governor late last month clarified the legality on esports betting.  The new bill allows parimutuel esports betting within the state.

The new law amends language to ensure that “other events” are included in parimutuel wagering.  The gaming laws and parimutuel laws are different in Nevada and thus the law sought to clarify the legality of betting on esports.

The move is another sign that Vegas wants to be the hub of esports.  Some Vegas hotels are converting some of its space to host esports gaming tournaments.  The lure is to bring in the younger demo with hopes of it spilling into their casinos.  The new bill grants the chance for a broader opportunity to bet on esports.

GAME Act seeks to legalize sports gambling

A new bill seeking to repeal the current ban on sports gaming was introduced into Congress on Thursday.

The bill is a likely response to the U.S. Solicitor General’s recommendation that the U.S. Supreme Court not take the sports gambling cases litigated in New Jerseys.

The Gaming Accountability and Modernization Enhancement Act or GAME Act was introduced on Thursday per an ESPN report.  The GAME Act would repeal PAPSA, the much-litigated federal legislation which prohibits sports gambling.

The GAME Act defines a bet or wager as “the risking of something of value including virtual currency or virtual items, upon the outcome of a contest of others, a sporting event or a game of skill or a game of chance, on the expectation that the person will receive something of value in the event of a certain outcome.”  This includes daily fantasy sports.

The Act, according to the drafter of the bill, is an opportunity to update the gambling laws.

Live eSports coming to Facebook

The Wall Street Journal reports that Facebook will pay eSports teams and others related to the industry to post videos on the social network platform.

The news comes at about the same time that Major League Baseball aired its first game on Facebook without regional blackouts.  The move is a new strategy for Facbook as it is bringing live content to the platform.

The eSports and MLB deals join Facebook’s deal in March with Major League Soccer to air its games.

No financial terms were disclosed although terms revealed state that “esports partners must produce a minimum number of hours of video” for Facebook.  But, most can publish to rival platform Twitch, which is owned by Amazon.com.

The new deal hopes to develop a new “ecosystem”  Facebook.  For esports teams, Facebook exposure should help teams with marketing and generating ad revenue.

17 NBA teams to participate in NBA 2K League

The NBA announced that 17 of the 30 teams will participate in the forthcoming NBA 2K League coming in 2018.

The league is a joint project with the NBA and Take-Two Interactive Software.  The NBA teams that are participating have agreed to a three year deal where each team will pay on average $250,000 per year.

The upcoming eLeague will be the first time one of the major sports leagues have directly collaborated to establish an eLeague of its own.

The investment in eSports shows the growing reach of the gaming community as well as the recognition that the sport will attract a younger demographic.

With the NBA involvement, it is likely that we’ll see more leagues collaborating with video game makers.

Twitter announces new live streaming sports deals

Twitter announced a number of new live streaming sports deals including the WNBA, PGA, MLB and collegiate games. The company lost out on a deal for Thursday Night NFL games to Amazon.com and is bolstering its efforts with more live streaming and content.  Amazon.com paid 10 times the amount that Twitter paid last year.

The company announced original content deals along with the live streaming at a Digital Content NewFronts Presentation.

The strategy seeks to bring more revenue to the company which is looking to monetize its platform.

The live streaming deals bring up the issue of the enforcement of the copyright as with those using Periscope to freely air sports content.  While this might be an ancillary issue at this time, with upgrades to technology this will come into question later down the road.

Vegas expanding to cater to esports patrons

The Wall Street Journal reports that the MGM Resorts in Las Vegas is turning a former nightclub at its Luxor Hotel and Casino into a permanent venue in hosting esports contests.  The restructure should be done by next year according to the company.

The move is a nod to attract younger visitors to Vegas at a time with “subdued growth.”

Gambling on the Las Vegas Strip is down 7% since 2007.

With the average esports fan between 21 and 35 years old, the move to attract younger people to Vegas hopes to spur growth for the gambling industry.  Certainly, younger adults have more disposable income due to a lack of a mortgage or children.  Esports is a niche industry that is trending upwards.

University of Utah announces eSports team sponsored by school

The University of Utah announced that its forming a “Varsity ESports” team through its Entertainment Arts & Engineering (EAE) video game development program.  It is starting with League of Legends as its first game with additional games in the offing.  It’s the first eSports program in the Power Five conferences.

The EAE program has been ranked the No. 1 video game design program in the nation.

There are multiple eSports teams sponsored by college gaming clubs across the U.S. but this is the first of its kind where a university department is sponsoring a team.

According to Bloomberg, gamers on the Utah’s League of Legends team will receive partial scholarships at first with a long-term plan of expanding to more games and monetizing the effort through marketing and sponsorship deals that will lead to full scholarships.

This is a sign that eSports is being considered as more than a club sport on college campuses.  Certainly the opportunity to monetize the endeavor is a reason for the push.  With conferences seeking content for its cable networks and sponsors looking to market to a young demo, eSports is gaining traction.

MLS Commissioner talks Facebook deal and opens up regarding regulated gambling

As Major League Soccer opened its season earlier this month and with it came news from MLS Commissioner Don Garber that he would not be opposed to legalized gambling.

Speaking at SXSW in Austin, Texas, Geekwire was able to catch up with him.  Garber spoke at Geekwire’s Sports Tech Summit last summer.

Via Geekwire:

“We have a project going on now to really dig in deeply and understand it. I’ll be the third commissioner (along with NBA’s Adam Silver and MLB’s Rob Manfred) in and say I’m very open to understanding how we can get more engaged in this market in a way that I think if done properly, can be regulated and managed and controlled. I’ll join the chorus of saying it’s time to bring it out of the dark ages. We’re doing what we can to figure out how to manage that effectively.”

In addition to this news that the MLS will be open to hearing about the possiblility of regulated gambling of its sports, he announced a Facebook streaming deal which will expand its reach across an untapped platform.  The MLS will be the first league with an extended package on Facebook.

Embracing new ideas and technology are two characteristics new to leagues.  The opportunity to engage with as many fans as possible is key as well as monetizing them.