It’s official … almost. After years of lobbying and pleading, the gambling industry finally got the nod of approval for the United States’ highest level of justice. The Supreme Court decided on Monday that the federal ban on sports betting that’s been in place for more than a couple of decades is an unconstitutional measure.
It’s not the panacea it might seem to be at first glance. The nine-judge body only said that each state — in the absence of specific, explicit regulatory laws made by Congress — could and should make the choice for themselves. In that as many as 32 states are already putting together rules that would govern sports betting within their jurisdiction, however, it’s pretty clear that the sports gambling landscape will be changing soon, and in a big way.
To that end, here’s a run-down of the gaming stocks that will see the most benefit from legalized sports betting. In no certain order:
Sports Betting Stocks: MGM Resorts International (MGM)
It’s cliche (almost to the point of being painful) to peg a casino stock as a beneficiary of legalized sports betting, but if the athletic shoe fits …
MGM Resorts International (NYSE:MGM) will be one of the big winners of the sports gaming movement that’s been in the works for years now, and just now paid off.
How do we know? The company said so.
CEO Jim Murren responded to Monday’s breaking news that “We have already established the architecture to deploy sports betting as soon as the states allow us to do that,” adding “We have already the software. We have our mobile app called PlayMGM that is already activated in Nevada.”
Sports Betting Stocks: Scientific Games Corp (SGMS)
While the brick-and-mortar casinos that already offer sports betting in Nevada, they’re not the only way to play the decision. The organizations that provide the technological backbone for gaming are also well-positioned.
Matt Davey, Group Chief Executive of Scientific Games division SG Digital commented, “Legalized sports betting is an exciting prospect for Scientific Games, and we ensure that our product offering is fully compliant with all forthcoming regulations. We plan to hit the ground running with our OpenBet product suite and our integrated systems technology to create a seamless experience for our customers and their players.”
The fact that SGMS stock jumped 11% in response to the Supreme Court’s decision should tell you all you need to know.
Sports Betting Stocks: William Hill plc (WIMHF)
Don’t let the OTC-listing fool you. William Hill plc (OTCMKTS:WIMHF) is an exchange-listed, legitimate company. It’s just based and primarily listed in London, England. The OTC listing is just a simple and cost-effective way to bring a geographical diversity opportunity “across the pond.”
Perhaps more important, William Hill is already a big name in the sports betting business, operating in Nevada in addition to the sports betting it already offers in the U.K.
In the meantime, it was already prepping sports betting operations in New Jersey, in anticipating of Monday’s ruling. William Hill’s Monmouth Park Racetrack could start offering sports gambling services within a month, assuming the state gives the industry the green light there.
Sports Betting Stocks: Madison Square Garden Co (MSG)
While casinos and gambling-tech outfits were thrust into the spotlight on Monday, they’re not necessarily the only ways to ride the impending wave of sports betting. Sports teams themselves stand to benefit.
How so? As Dallas Mavericks owners Mark Cuban opined of the news, “It could finally become fun to go to a baseball game again. You know, all that downtime. A basketball game, football, it’s easy to see how you’ll have fun at the arena, at the stadium, and while you’re watching it, whether it’s online, on traditional T.V. — I think this is something that benefits everybody.”
“Fun” and “again” were the operative words there.
Great, but are any professional sports teams publicly traded? They’re admittedly few and far between, but Madison Square Garden Co (NYSE:MSG) is the owner of the New York Knicks and the New York Rangers — two of pro sports’ most marketable franchises.
Sports Betting Stocks: Caesars Entertainment Corporation (CZR)
It’s certainly been riddled with more than its fair share of headaches. Namely, though it took far longer than it arguably should have, Caesars Entertainment Corporation (NASDAQ:CZR) has finally completed its bankruptcy effort that was complicated by an unusual arrangement with its operating company.
Even while coming out of that bankruptcy though, the company was eyeing the future.
And what a bright future it is, including a heavy dose of sports betting revenue. That’s at least according to Jefferies managing director David Katz, who, in a note Monday, pegged Caesars as one of two casinos that “have the most upside, respectively, among casino operators.”
Katz added, though, “Meanwhile, Scientific Games has the most upside among the equipment suppliers.”
Sports Betting Stocks: Penn National Gaming, Inc (PENN)
Katz’s other casino operator pick that will hit pay-dirt now that states are allowed to legalize sports-centric betting? Penn National Gaming, Inc (NASDAQ:PENN).
It’s not a terribly familiar name relative to the top-tier operators like the aforementioned Caesars or MGM. It’s certainly no slouch, though. Penn National Gaming is a $3.1 billion organization that’s generated $3.1 billion worth of revenue over the course of the past twelve months, most of which is driven by its Hollywood-branded casinos and resorts.
How Penn sees the true opportunity here, however, is insightful. Back in February, Penn CEO Timothy Wilmott saw the true nature of the opportunity as a means of driving more visitors to its casinos and resorts, where it could then extract revenue from them in more consistent and even more profitable ways.
Sports Betting Stocks: Wynn Resorts, Limited (WYNN)
Yep, you can add Wynn Resorts, Limited (NASDAQ:WYNN) as one of the top gaming stocks to capitalize on a more liberal legal environment.
In many ways, Wynn will only need to embellish what it’s already doing. Its horse racing and sports book venue in Las Vegas has turned sports betting into an outright posh experience, and it could easily transport similar experiences and capabilities across other state lines.
The kicker: Wynn Resorts also already supports a sports betting app. For the time being, it can only be used in Nevada where the practice is already legal. As more states offer permission to operate online sports betting though, Wynn could be one of the first names to those new markets with just a proverbial flip of the switch.
Sports Betting Stocks: International Game Technology PLC (IGT)
It can’t be stressed enough — the advent of sports betting in the United States will be as much about the underlying technologies as it will be about the conventional casinos that operate the bettor-oriented service. That’s why International Game Technology PLC (NYSE:IGT) is yet another likely beneficiary that’s all too easy to overlook.
As the name suggests, International Game Technology offers technological platforms that make gaming fun, and easy. It doesn’t just develop and sell these platforms though. It’s the world’s biggest provider of slot machines and lottery networks. Those deep existing relationships could be easy for this company to leverage.
Meanwhile, the fact that International Game Technology also spends more on gaming R&D than any other company suggests the company may come up with something sports-related we’ve yet to even envision.
Sports Betting Stocks: Churchill Downs, Inc. (CHDN)
Though it owns the venue of each year’s “most exciting two minutes in sports,” Churchill Downs, Inc. (NASDAQ:CHDN) is often overlooked as a gaming stock.
And for good reason. It doesn’t seemingly do much else besides horse racing. The state of Kentucky doesn’t permit casino operations (at least not yet), and horse racing itself isn’t a year-round activity.
There’s big potential in that obscurity, though. No other venue is as well positioned to capitalize on legalized sports betting in the bluegrass state as Churchill Downs is, and the company has already conceded it was looking at the Supreme Court’s decision through an opportunistic lens.
Sports Betting Stocks: Stars Group Inc (TSG)
Last but not least, add similarly-obscure Stars Group Inc (NASDAQ:TSG) to your list of gaming stocks that are uniquely positioned to capitalize on the impending boom in sports betting.
In short, Stars Group was built from the ground up with Monday’s decision in mind. Though in the past it had relied heavily on online poker, in April it shelled out $4.7 billion to acquire Britain’s sports betting outfit Sky Betting & Gaming … best known for sports bookmaking.
The combination of the two organizations now only creates the world’s biggest publicly-traded online gaming entity, but it combines the underlying technologies developed by both.
Turning the sports betting decision over to individual states doesn’t inherently mean those states will allow it to be done online. But, to the extent it can and will be done via the internet, Stars Group could crush it.
As of this writing, James Brumley did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities. You can follow him on Twitter, at @jbrumley.