According to Bloomberg, Verizon, which continues to expand its sports content and coverage, will consider entering the sports gambling industry.
“There are some changes coming that we pay attention to. We stay close to that to see how it would affect our asset and how we may choose to respond,” Verizon Chief Financial Officer Matt Ellis said. “I’ve not looked at anything in detail. If someone has an idea around it, I’ll look at it like any other. But we are not getting ahead of ourselves there.”
Verizon is no longer just a communications company, but also a media company investing in sports with streaming rights to the NFL and NBA. Last year Verizon purchased Yahoo and its popular fantasy sports business which has tens of millions of fans, logging 30 billion minutes a year participating in fantasy sports. Many of those users pay to play fantasy sports, with the goal of winning cash prizes.
In the past, sports leagues have spent millions in legal fees to prevent expanded legalization of sports gambling. Since taking over as commissioner of the NBA, Adam Silver hasn’t shied away from stating he expects sports gambling to be legalized in the next few years.
“We have studied these issues at length,” said NBA attorney Dan Spillane while testifying in front of a New York State Senate committee. “Our conclusion is that the time has come for a different approach that gives sports fans a safe and legal way to wager on sporting events while protecting the integrity of the underlying competitions.”
The NBA is pushing for sports gambling to be legalized, making betting available on smart phones and kiosks, while collecting 1% of every wager placed on its sport.
Last week Verizon and the NBA announced a partnership, creating a $25 million innovation fund to provide a unique viewing experience through the consumer’s mobile device. With the potential of legalized sports gambling, along with Verizon’s NFL and NBA streaming rights, the communication giant could offer a sports book which will pair live game broadcasts and live betting.