Sports betting is already wildly popular in America, and with some momentum toward expanding its legalization, at least one media and tech company is looking to capitalize.
According to the Wall Street Journal, investor Peter Chernin’s Chernin Group has bought three sites that house sports betting and sports gambling data (Sports Insights, FantasyLabs and SportsAction) and will combine them into Action Network. That subscription-based platform will “give sports bettors access to data and analytical tools, along with articles, podcasts and videos that analyze sports from the perspective of a fan who has money on the line.”
“The sports marketplace in general is in a time of enormous transition,” said Mr. Chernin, the chairman and chief executive of Chernin Group. “We’re living in a world where people are getting scores almost immediately, getting highlights almost immediately.”
He said by focusing on fantasy-sports aficionados and those who wager on games, the new platform will reach those who “by definition are among the most passionate sports fans, and that felt like a potentially very lucrative niche for us.”
Chernin Group continues its dive into sports media, having already bought a controlling stake in Barstool Sports and invested substantially in The Athletic.
In a way, this sports-betting venture is somewhat speculative. Though Chernin Group executive Mike Kerns told WSJ that Action Network will serve the market for betting information as it stands currently, the company is likely banking on increased legalization. Sports betting is currently legal in four states (Nevada, Oregon, Delaware, and Montana), but a Supreme Court case brought by the state of New Jersey could soon open up the industry. Meanwhile, many prominent sports executives, including NBA commissioner Adam Silver and MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, have become more open to legalized sports betting, after years of leagues expressing wariness of the idea.
Of course, plenty of people bet on sports even in places where doing so is not legal, making the Chernin Group’s concept viable even without further legalization. And if the Supreme Court rules in New Jersey’s favor, clearing the way for more legal betting, expect Chernin to have a whole lot more competitors.