Many casinos have sports gambling operations, but not many sports gambling operators can say they have their own casino. ZenSports, an international sports gambling exchange, might find itself included in the latter category, provided a deal it is working on with a Nevada casino operator doesn’t fall apart. The US-based company has teamed up with Strategic Gaming Management (SGM) to purchase the rights to buy SGM’s Big Wheel Casino in Lovelock, Nevada, as well as to run its sportsbook at the company’s Baldini’s Sports Casino in Sparks, Nevada. If everything goes according to plan, the arrangement will set the stage for ZenSports to be able to launch the first sports gambling exchange in the U.S.
ZenSports said this past March that it wanted to set up shop in the U.S. sometime this year, and it seems to be working to fulfill that goal. The sports gambling exchange allows users to create their own wagers, and then call out for action from other users. The platform doesn’t receive any juice from the bets, but does take a commission that ZenSports says can be as much as 90% lower than what conventional sportsbooks collect.
To be able to create the exchange in the U.S., ZenSports first needs a license, which it can receive through a partnership with an existing casino operator or through the purchase of its own licensed gambling property. Its arrangement with SGM covers both options, giving ZenSports two avenues to choose from to launch its exchange. The partnership with SGM gives the company the option to purchase Big Wheel if it wants, with ZenSports receiving three years to make up its mind, per the negotiated terms of the contract.
Explains ZenSports co-founder and CEO Mark Thomas, “One of the biggest hurdles in getting licensed to operate an internet/mobile sports betting platform in the United States is the requirement to own or partner with a land-based sportsbook and casino. Through our great relationship with Strategic Gaming Management, we were able to secure the option to purchase this business in Nevada, which is the first critical step in getting ZenSports licensed and operating in the state.”
ZenSports already offers its exchange app in the U.S. for iOS and Android users so they can access the company’s daily fantasy sports options, and the move to take over Baldini’s will see that app becoming the go-to solution for the casino’s sports gamblers. There might be additional sportsbook plans in the works, but ZenSports is tight-lipped on the subject.
The agreement between the sports exchange operator and SGM won’t come as a big surprise to many who follow the U.S. gambling industry. Thomas and SGM CEO Grant Lincoln have a solid working relationship that stems from an angel investment Lincoln made in the company earlier this year. Lincoln asserts of the exchange, “ZenSports is proving to be a force in the mobile and peer-to-peer sports betting world. We’re excited to help give them an opportunity to expand into the Nevada market and make ZenSports a household name here.”