Verizon to Expand Sports Betting Venture to Five More States

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Verizon Communications Inc. got its Yahoo Sports betting venture out of the gate in New Jersey in November, and now plans to expand its online gambling partnership with MGM Resorts International to at least five more states this year.

Several states have legalized sports betting since the U.S. Supreme Court ended a federal prohibition in 2018. The phone giant’s plan is to expand as the states’ policies and platforms get sorted out, Verizon Media Chief Executive Officer Guru Gowrappan told Bloomberg Television at the CES electronics show in Las Vegas.

The online betting field is currently dominated by companies such as DraftKings Inc. and FanDuel Inc., but with 16 million active users on Yahoo Sports and a BetMGM sportsbook in New Jersey, Gowrappan said there’s a foundation for a larger betting network.

In November, the companies announced plans to let U.S. customers make wagers on the Yahoo Sports app using BetMGM, an online-gambling platform. The companies were also working on live events and other experiences for fans.

Verizon, the largest U.S. wireless carrier, has relatively few side businesses and has been focused almost completely on the rollout of 5G service. Gowrappan spent last year restructuring the media business, previously called Oath. He calls this year a building period.

In August, Verizon sold blogging platform Tumblr as part of a broader strategy of moving away from areas like user-generated content and social media. Gowrappan said additional asset sales are unlikely, but there could be M&A opportunities in both content and advertising.

Another area of focus for Verizon Media is the presidential campaign.The company has a site that consists of candidate profiles and 90-second elevator pitches from candidates.

“We’ve launched an election hub, which focuses on bringing all our content together, creating an election experience for consumers who are going to vote in 2020,” Gowrappan said.