FOX Sports and PokerStars parent company The Stars Group announced their union via press release on May 8th.
By paying $236 million for a 4.99 percent stake in The Stars Group – a Canadian online gambling giant formerly known as Amaya – FOX Sports gains access to the proprietary BetStars online sportsbook. In exchange, The Stars Group will take advantage of FOX Sports’ omnipresent brand awareness to facilitate entrance into newly legalized American sports betting markets.
The deal is set to last up to 25 years, and at any point over the next 10 years, FOX Sports holds the exclusive right to acquire up to 50 percent of The Stars Group.
FOX Sports All-In on FOX Bet Platform
BetStars – which has operated throughout the U.K. and Europe since 2015 – will have its American-facing sites rebranded as FOX Bet by Fall of 2019.
Two versions of FOX Bet will be rolled out in the coming months. The first will be a free-to-play sports pick prediction contest available nationwide, and the second will be a real money sportsbook offered in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and any other regulated statewide markets The Stars Group eventually enters.
A decision handed down last May by the U.S. Supreme Court ended a 26-year old federal ban on sports betting outside of Nevada. That ruling paved the way for seven states – Delaware, New Jersey, Mississippi, West Virginia, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island – to legalize and launch sportsbooks last year.
Four more states successfully passed similar laws this month, as Montana, Indiana, Iowa, and Tennessee joined the list of jurisdictions where sports wagering is now legal.
Per comments from FOX Sports chief executive officer and executive producer Eric Shanks, the choice to fuse FOX Sports with sports betting as a new era of legal access begins was easy to make:
“FOX Sports is already synonymous with the best live sports events in the country and now we are expanding the way we immerse fans in the sports culture they love.
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.”
Stars Group Looks to Rebrand BetStars Sportsbook
In addition to the nine-figure infusion of cash this deal immediately provides, The Stars Group is set to capitalize on FOX Sports’ strong branding among potential bettors.
In a conference call convened with investors, newly appointed FOX Bet chief executive officer Robin Chhabra provided data ranking FOX Sports as second only to ESPN in terms of access to fans.
As Chhabra pointed out, FOX Sports’ various regional networks are watched on 99 percent of American televisions, lending the brand an 80 percent awareness rate. Furthermore, polling data has shown that 27 percent of viewers would “strongly” consider placing bets on the FOX Bet app.
The Stars Group’s CEO Rafi Ashkenazi offered his take on the FOX Bet gamble:
“We believe this strategic partnership uniquely positions us to build a leading betting business in the U.S., which represents one of the most exciting long-term growth opportunities for our company.
Leveraging our proven media partnership strategy with Sky Sports in the UK, we are excited to partner with FOX Sports to integrate wagering into sports media and drive customer acquisition and retention in the U.S.”