FOX Bet has gone live in New Jersey, ready to grab a huge piece of the local sports gambling market. The outfit, operated by The Stars Group, is a commentary on the rapidly changing sports gambling environment in the U.S., as it’s the first time a major media company has put its name to a gambling operator. In five years, the sports gambling industry in the U.S. is going to be completely different from what is seen today.
FOX Bet is giving local gambling fans the ability to wager on a variety of sports, including football, basketball, cricket and more. It also offers gambling tutorials and original content, thanks to the broadcaster’s extensive sports coverage history, and predictions provided by the team from FOX Sports.
Also indicative of the changing environment is Fox’s acquisition of a stake in The Stars Group. This past May, it spent $236 million to pick up a 4.99% stake and also has the ability to purchase another 45% in ten years if it so chooses. Odds are extremely good that it will exercise that right.
According to FOX Sports CEO Eric Shanks, “Digital sports wagering represents a growing market opportunity that allows us to diversify our revenue streams, connect directly with consumers, and expand the reach of the FOX Sports brand.”
The media company shouldn’t be confused with 21st Century Fox, which is owned by Disney. While FOX is more than willing to embrace gambling, Disney isn’t as enthusiastic about jumping on the gambling bandwagon, passing on several related deals because it wants to maintain a “family-friendly” approach to its operations. This is partly why it recently decided to back out of a branding deal with Genting Malaysia that would have seen its name appear at a theme park at Resorts World Genting.
FOX has its roots in gambling, long before Fox Bet was even conceived. It was built by Australian tycoon Rupert Murdoch, the man behind the Sky brand. Murdoch ultimately sold that entity to Comcast a year ago and he has been involved in the gaming business for the past two decades.
Sports fans should expect to see more involvement in sports gambling by major broadcasters, including CBS, ESPN and NBC, as they work out how best to approach the subject without appearing to be subjective in their coverage. CBS Sports has indicated that it could allow limited commentary and its on-screen scrolling ticker could also begin to see odds on different sports contests.
Fox Bet isn’t the only new platform to hit the streets of New Jersey. A new mobile app launched by theScore, called theScore Bet, is now available for Android and iOS devices, and has become the first mobile sportsbook to be introduced by a media company in the U.S. Currently limited to just gamblers in New Jersey, it will eventually be rolled out to other locations as these begin to authorize online gambling.