After a few months offline, the new Bally Bet app has begun relaunching for sports betting in several states. And yet, despite a Bally Bet retail sportsbook replacing FanDuel at Bally’s Atlantic City, there is still no state where the company offers both iGaming and online sports betting. It doesn’t even have clear plans to do so, though New Jersey is likely to become the first such state in time.
The new Bally Bet sportsbook comes by way of a partnership with Kambi and White Hat and is now live in four states:
Additionally, Bally Bet will be relaunching soon in Indiana, Iowa, and New York. Meanwhile, Bally Online Casino is available in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
This is highly unusual. In fact, Bally’s is the only operator to offer both iGaming and online sports betting, but with no overlap between the two. Until recently, the industry consensus was that integrated sportsbook/casino apps were the key to success.
Bally’s iGaming Ambitions
Despite upgrading the sportsbook, Bally’s CEO Robeson Reeves said in March that the company’s future is in iGaming. At the time, its online casino product was live only in New Jersey and the Canadian province of Ontario. Since then, it has launched in Pennsylvania.
Perhaps the best news for Bally’s this year has been the legalization of iGaming in Rhode Island. As the sole partner of the state lottery, it will hold a monopoly when that market opens next year. The state legalized online casinos in June and could launch as early as Mar. 1, 2024. Even there, however, Bally’s won’t have an integrated app. The state already has a partner for online sports betting, William Hill US, owned by Caesars.
But while Reeves says Bally’s future is in iGaming, there isn’t much room to grow unless more states succeed with their iGaming efforts in 2024. The last of the big three iGaming states, Michigan, has a cap of 15 licenses, all of which are spoken for. Bally cannot enter the market unless another online casino decides to exit, though there’s a possibility WynnBet could do so as part of its reduction of markets. Connecticut and Delaware are also restricted markets with no access for Bally’s.
That leaves only West Virginia. However, there are already ten operators and fewer than 2 million residents. July revenue for the Mountain State was only $11.4 million. Given Bally’s struggles to gain market share in larger states, those numbers would make it not economically sensible to enter the state.
Why Hasn’t Bally Casino Added Sports Betting?
As for the states where Bally Casino does operate, it has two different reasons for not adding Bally Bet. Those reasons are not technological since it has an integrated product in Ontario.
In Pennsylvania, it’s a licensing issue. Bally’s operates its online casino as a qualified gaming entity (QGE). Being a QGE allows the company to offer iGaming without needing a retail casino partner, which means it can keep all the revenue for itself. The downside is that it does not allow Bally’s to operate a sportsbook.
Still, there’s a chance for Bally’s to launch mobile Bally Bet in the Keystone State. The operator partnered with a local businessman, Ira Lubert, to establish a satellite casino in State College. However, the project is facing a legal challenge, so Bally’s market access for online sports betting has been delayed and may not arrive at all, depending on the outcome of the case.
Meanwhile, the New Jersey absence is presumably due to that market’s saturation and Bally Bet’s poor market share elsewhere. The rebranding of the FanDuel retail sportsbook to Bally Bet suggests an intent to begin online betting in the Garden State eventually. However, those plans may ultimately depend on whether the new-and-improved Bally Bet achieves the desired improvement in performance. If the company still can’t manage better than 1% market share in less competitive markets, it will face an uphill climb in New Jersey, where the sheer density of brands has already caused several small operations to fold.
Could NJ Become Bally’s First Multi-Vertical State?
Though an integrated Bally’s app will likely come to New Jersey, it could still be many months away.
During the Q2 earnings call in August, Bally’s CEO Reeves said the plan is for Bally Bet to be live in at least seven states for online betting by the end of 2023. That would be Arizona, Colorado, Ohio, and Virginia, where it has already relaunched, plus the three others the company has explicitly mentioned. New Jersey isn’t on that list.
In other words, Bally Casino players in New Jersey are likely looking at early 2024 as the earliest they might be able to make sports bets. That’s assuming that Reeves and his team like what they see when they evaluate how the new mobile sportsbook performs in the other seven states.
Bally’s is probably wise not to rush it. New Jersey may be the traditional launchpad for brands in the US, but the crowded market has become a big challenge for newcomers, especially in the sports betting vertical.