The Toronto-based company has secured an online casino gaming license in New Jersey through Twin River, chairman and CEO John Levy told Sportico. The company hopes to launch the product in the second half of 2021.
theScore is the latest company to use its sports betting app as a springboard for an online casino product, games that appeal to a much bigger segment of the U.S. population. In Nevada, for example, gambling operators took in $329 million from sports betting last year and $12 billion from casino games and slots.
theScore is hoping that its large user base—it’s the second most-used sports app in North America, behind ESPN—can help it convert media users into bettors of all sorts. That was the pitch for its recent expansion into sports betting, and Levy said it carries over into the online casino space, also known as iGaming.
“It’s a natural next step,” Levy said. “This completes our offering in New Jersey. We have a great media app that leads us to a sports betting opportunity, and then the next extension is iGaming. It’s all intertwined.”
Levy declined to comment on the financial details of the ten-year deal with Twin River, which earlier this year announced that it was buying Bally’s casino in Atlantic City. These deals typically feature an upfront fee and a share of gaming revenue earned under the license.
theScore launched its U.S. sports betting app in New Jersey in September 2019. It was the first North American media company to build its own sports book, but adoption has been fairly slow, hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the first three quarters of its 2020 fiscal year, the company took about $26.7 million in bets, amounting to $766,000 in gross-gaming revenue. That was just about 4% of the company’s overall revenue in that timeframe.
DraftKings and FanDuel, both of which have a fantasy sports background, are among the other companies that have expanded into offering online casino games where it is legal. The biggest hurdle right now, however, is the state-by-state nature of U.S. legislation. Only four states—New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and West Virginia—offer legal online casino games.
theScore plans to expand its iGaming offerings in other states as they become available. The company has a market access deal in 11 states through Penn National, but none of those states has legalized online casinos so far.
The big pitch for theScore’s sports gambling product was the direct tie between its media content and sports betting options. Levy said that while that connection isn’t as direct with casino games, the overlap of sports bettors that also play games like blackjack or roulette is 30-40%.
“And you know what, I’ll bet you we’ll be talking six months from now and our content guys will be creating content related to that,” he said.