Sports betting media competition growing, but VSiN enjoys the company

By Howard Stutz, Executive Editor, CDC Gaming Reports

It’s getting a little crowded in the sports betting media neighborhood. But VSiN CEO Brian Musburger isn’t complaining.

The Las Vegas-based sports wagering network, launched in 2017 from a casino floor studio adjacent to the South Point’s sportsbook, is preparing to unveil 16 hours of daily live content next month. On Monday, Musburger announced a new line-up of programming and additions to VSiN’s talent pool.

On Tuesday, VSiN and BetMGM – the sports wagering platform co-owned by MGM Resorts International and GVC Holdings – announced a collaboration for Betting Across America, a new sports wagering information program. The show will be broadcasted live from BetMGM sportsbooks and from studios in large sports betting markets across the country, pending regulatory approval.

Musburger hinted Tuesday that partnerships with other casino and sportsbook operators in different markets were forthcoming.

“Our feeling has always been that Vegas is kind of like the New York Stock Exchange for sports betting,” Musburger said. “But you also need a presence at the Chicago Board of Trade. Las Vegas is the center but there are so many other states now, you need to have a presence elsewhere. It’s an exciting time.”

ESPN certainly agrees.

The network opened its new 6,000-square-foot studio at the Linq Resort Monday, which will become the home of ESPN’s sports wagering content, including its Daily Wager sports betting news and information program.

If you believe Musburger is concerned, guess again. He’s happy, he says, that legal sports betting is getting the coverage it deserves. He also says it’s good for Las Vegas.

“I’ve seen the studio and I love it,” Musburger said of the space that overlooks the Strip. “My feeling is that I want to see competition do this right, and ESPN has good people who get it and are doing things the right way. I’m happy to see media companies take sports betting seriously.”

Rendering of the VSiN broadcast studio inside the Circa Resort Casino in downtown Las Vegas/Courtesy photo

VSiN, for its part, has its own expansion plans.

The company will move into its second studio, at the under-construction Circa Resort Casino in downtown Las Vegas, when property owner Derek Stevens launches the venue’s casino, restaurants, and pool area by the end of October. The space at Circa will include a broadcast center and facilities for post-production work, editing bays, and office space.

The studio – on the floor adjacent to Circa’s three-level sportsbooks and video wall – is roughly the same size as VSiN’s original South Point home. The network’s growth requires additional studio space. Stevens is an investor in VSiN and often appears on the network in his capacity as an avid sports bettor.

“There is no shortage of storylines and information that is important to the sports bettor,” Musburger said. He said the agreement with BetMGM includes permanent space at the Mandalay Bay sportsbook for VSiN’s shows.

Musburger launched VSiN more than a year before the Supreme Court ruling that opened the rest of the U.S. to legalized and regulated sports betting. Slightly more than two years after the SCOTUS decision, there are now 18 states that allow sports betting at casinos, racetracks, and online, with another four states set to launch by the end of the year. Nationwide gaming revenue from sports betting is up 10.4% for the first six months of 2020, according to the American Gaming Association.

VSiN CEO Brian Musburger

Musburger likens VSiN to business-centric networks, such as CNBC and Bloomberg, in how they handle breaking gaming industry news. Musburger also knows the space will attract more competition.

Caesars Palace was the site of a Bleacher Reports studio inside the Las Vegas Strip resort’s sportsbook until it was closed in March when gaming in Nevada was halted due to the pandemic. It remained closed when Caesars Palace reopened June 4.

A Bleacher Report spokesman said the network will “continue to produce new programming and devote resources to our B/R betting vertical as a whole.”

Sports media platform Barstool Sports boasts a following of 66 million “stoolies” who are drawn to irreverent videos, commentary, and sports gambling discussion produced for its website and social media platforms.

That audience is the primary reason regional casino operator Penn National Gaming spent $163 million to acquire 36% of Barstool. Penn operates 41 gaming properties in 19 states and will brand its regional sportsbooks as Barstool-themed locations. The companies will also launch a mobile sports betting app this fall under the Barstool label.

Penn CEO Jay Snowden envisions Barstool personalities visiting the sportsbooks and interacting with customers. But nothing has been said about a studio setting.

As for Las Vegas, the market is not on Penn’s radar.

The company operates Tropicana Las Vegas and M Resort in Henderson but does not control the sports betting at the locations. Both will soon be operated under the William Hill US brand.

Howard Stutz is the executive editor of CDC Gaming Reports. He can be reached at [email protected]. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.

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