Fox Sports first US broadcaster to embrace gambling, Fox Bet planned for legal states

Michael Strahan and Jimmy Johnson on Fox Sports

Fox Sports is the first major US sports network to make a move in gambling, with the purchase of a 5% stake in The Stars Group - the parent company of PokerStars.

It marks the first time a major US broadcaster has moved directly into gambling, with the restrictive regulations previously hindering any potential tie-ups. One year ago, the US Supreme Court legalized sports betting for all 50 states.

Now the broadcaster looks to be buying into gambling and will likely use its network and sports content to cross-promote gambling across its properties.

CNBC reports that Fox Sports has the option to acquire half of the group’s US business after a decade. The company will trade under Fox Bet in the states that have legalized gambling (currently eight, with more set to follow).

Eric Shanks, chief executive and executive producer of Fox Sports, said: “Digital sports wagering represents a growing market opportunity that allows us to diversify our revenue streams, connect directly with consumers, and expand the reach of the Fox Sports brand.”

Rafi Ashkenazi, chief executive of The Stars Group, added: “We believe this strategic partnership uniquely positions us to build a leading betting business in the US, which represents one of the most exciting long-term growth opportunities for our company."

“Leveraging our proven media partnership strategy with Sky Sports in the UK, we are excited to partner with Fox Sports to integrate wagering into sports media and drive customer acquisition and retention in the US.”

The Stars Group owns the likes of PokerStars, PokerStars Casino, BetStars, Full Tilt, BetEasy, Sky Bet, Sky Vegas, Sky Casino, Sky Bingo, Sky Poker and Oddschecker.

Speaking of Sky Bet, Fox’s move contrasts with behavior in the UK.

Major broadcaster Sky Sports, until recently part of the Fox group, previously sold its long-lasting stake in Sky Bet to The Stars Group and is actively reducing the volume of gambling ads it airs.

Get The Drum Newsletter

Build your marketing knowledge by choosing from daily news bulletins or a weekly special.