ports Illustrated has joined the gambling industry by launching its SI Sportsbook in Colorado, now live, ahead of the NFL season kickoff. The product was developed in partnership with UK-based online betting and gaming company 888 Holdings.
The 67-year-old sports magazine, owned by Authentic Brands Group, first unveiled its sportsbook plans earlier this year. “We are thrilled to announce that Sports Illustrated is entering the online sports betting and iGaming space,” announced ABG Founder, Chairman and CEO Jamie Salter in June.
Colorado marks the first state in which the renowned magazine will offer its product, with further plans to launch SI Sportsbook in New Jersey, Iowa and Indiana in the next few months. Daniel Dienst, executive vice chairman of Authentic Brands Group, said the company is making a “big bet” on sports wagering, which has become “part and parcel” of the culture and how people engage in sports, reports Forbes.
As part of the deal with 888, ABG has been paid an upfront licensing fee for the SI name and logo, and the company will receive additional performance-based payments related to how many players sign up. ABG will further receive 5% equity in the SI Sportsbook; and has the option to acquire an additional 5% stake for $15 million and another 5% for $25 million, leading to potential ownership stake of 19.99%.
888 Holding believes that once the first four states are up and running the company could build up to a 5% market share in each one. Further plans to expand into about 13-15 legal jurisdictions in the next two to three years are being explored. Should the sportsbook secure that 5% market share in the four initial states, which combined are worth about $1.8 billion, 888 Holdings would be looking at a $90 million opportunity.
SI Sportsbook is here!
The world of sports gambling is about to get much more exciting, especially for the readers of Sports Illustrated.
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) June 24, 2021
The SI Sportsbook is planned to work in conjunction with the Sports Illustrated website, as journalists will interweave gambling notes into their reporting, including betting odds of upcoming games. Should a user click on a link, they will be redirected to the SI Sportsbook website, where bets can be placed depending on whether sports gambling is available in the state. So far, restrictions only allow the state of Colorado.
Sports Illustrated isn’t the only sports publication seeking to enter the gambling business, joining similar endeavors by Barstool Sports, which partnered with casino operator Penn National; and Gannett, parent company of USA Today Network, which joined forces with company Tipico. ESPN is also allegedly in talks to license its brands to a major sports betting operator, while the Associated Press reached a deal in May with FanDuel to make the company its exclusive provider of sports odds across AP’s global sports reports.
Sports Illustrated has also been expanding its business to include sporting event ticketing via a product called SI Tix, launched in June. There are also plans to expand gambling content within the publication, which could see sports betting writers and staff doubling in size in the near future. The magazine expects to take advantage of its experience and years in reporting to drive interest to its sportsbook.
“Sports Illustrated is the most trusted brand name in sports, and trust in the gaming space is paramount,” said Ross Levinsohn, CEO of Maven, operator of Sports Illustrated’s print and digital assets in June. “The editorial, content and betting experience will reflect the integrity and ethos that SI has maintained for more than six decades.”