It’s largely been lost in the noise of recent political rhetoric, but the United States sports betting industry is basking in the glow of November’s progress. Voters in three more states agreed to legalize wagering on sporting events, bringing the total to 25. Now that they’re competing in earnest for tax and tourism revenue, many of the remaining states could soon follow suit. At stake is a piece of a multi-billion dollar market growing at a double-digit pace.
Smart investors should be sizing up prospective plays. Granted, many remain unprofitable, and all are relatively expensive. That’s not unusual, however, on the cutting edge of budding trends. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of three sports betting stocks with better-than-even odds of paying off.
It’s the poster child of the sports betting movement — and for good reason. DraftKings (NASDAQ:DKNG) has melded fantasy sports and gambling. Fans can find some “action” on a daily basis as the company facilitates wagering on football, basketball, soccer, golf, and more. It even offers betting on eSports video game League of Legends.
The premise of fantasy sports is a relatively easy one to understand, and a mobile app means users can make bets anytime, anywhere. As such, DraftKings is perfectly positioned to secure a sizable piece of this market. Analysts collectively expect the company’s top line to grow 53% this year, en route to a possible profit by 2022.
And the proverbial ace in the hole: DraftKings and ESPN (owned by Walt Disney) forged an exclusive partnership last September. The two companies are integrating their digital platforms and will assist one another in promoting them.
It’s difficult to say how much additional business this might produce for DraftKings, but just as ESPN is the undisputed king of sports television, it’s also the bully of the digital sports world. In October of last year, ESPN Digital’s properties drew a record-breaking crowd of 161.6 million users, while its relatively young ESPN+ app ended last year with more than 11 million paying customers, tripling its headcount as of the end of 2019. Even if only a fraction of them are interested in betting on sports, that’s still a lot of growth potential. For perspective, DraftKings says the number of unique monthly bettors it serves is just now topping one million.
Penn National Gaming
Yes, this is the same Penn National Gaming (NASDAQ:PENN) that owns several casinos and their corresponding hotels. It also operates a handful of horse racing tracks and is even the name behind a couple of betting apps.
Shutdowns stemming from the coronavirus contagion took a toll on its business, to be sure. Last year’s top line is on pace to come in 31% lower than the 2019 total once the company’s fourth-quarter numbers are posted, pulling the gambling enterprise deep into the red. But analysts are expecting a quick recovery. Revenue is projected to rise 36% this year, putting Penn back in the black with a per-share profit of $1.59.
These 2021 forecasts, however, arguably underestimate the benefit of last year’s investment in a 36% stake of Barstool Sports.
It’s seemingly just another sports commentary site but a big one. Barstool Sports reportedly draws a crowd in excess of 65 million unique visitors every month, and perhaps more importantly, it’s a potential stepping-off point for sports wagering. Penn explained at the time the investment was coming to fruition that 62% of “Stoolies” were also sports bettors. Ergo, Penn helped Barstool establish an online sportsbook in September of last year. While it’s only accessible in Pennsylvania right now, Penn is clearly looking to leverage the brand name going forward. Michigan is already lined up as a market for the Barstool Sports betting app, and Indiana and Illinois are on the radar as well. In the meantime, Penn plans to build Barstool-branded areas within its casinos, widening its prospective reach.
Finally, add fuboTV (NYSE:FUBO) to your list of sports betting stocks primed for gains.
You read that right. While fuboTV is a streaming cable media play, it’s a sports-minded one. The company describes itself as “the world’s only sports-focused live TV streaming service with top leagues and teams” and bolsters its sports content selection with league-specific offerings. For example, customers can add the NFL Redzone to their service and watch any NFL game being played on a Sunday afternoon. The model is working too. FuboTV picked up nearly 100,000 paying customers during the quarter ended in December, despite the nationwide cord-cutting movement.
So what’s that got to do with sports betting? It’s another story being buried by more riveting headlines, but fuboTV is also wading into sports wagering. In December, it announced the acquisition of Balto Sports, which offers fantasy sports platform tech solutions. Then, earlier this month, the company announced its intent to purchase interactive gaming company Vigtory. With Vigtory’s tech in-house, fuboTV now expects to launch a sports betting book by the end of 2021.
It’s not clear exactly how fuboTV will be able to differentiate itself, but presumably, the company will leverage the fact that it’s a cable television platform. It matters simply because cable broadcasts are still how most consumers get their sports fix. In the typical year, more than 80 of the 100 most-watched broadcasts are sporting events, and sports programming is often cited as one of the key reasons people don’t cut the cord. FuboTV is starting its betting journey on a firm footing.