Nascar is taking drastic steps entering the 2022 Cup Series season in order to maneuver itself as a national leader in sports betting.
With DraftKings and BetMGM already sponsoring Bubba Wallace and Richard Childress Racing, respectively, it is a sign of a changing ecosystem in the world of Nascar.
“Nascar partnered with the American Gaming Association and any betting issues we have, we work with them with limits and any other gambling things,” Joe Solosky, Nascar's managing director of sports betting, said. “On the integrity side, we don’t want to compromise our integrity. The garage access could potentially expose the sport and we’ve seen this happen in other sports where athletes get in trouble.”
Solosky’s team often meets with Nascar’s stakeholders, including drivers, team owners and race officials, to discuss the ever-changing world of sports betting. Thanks to a partnership with Sportradar’s Integrity Services, everyone who works in the sport must participate in a tutorial about race fixing and sports betting before taking a quiz about what you can and can't bet on.
As of December 2021, more than two dozen states and Washington, D.C. have legalized online sports betting, with rules for participation varying per state. Ohio and Massachusetts have pending legislation that may soon make it legal to participate in sports betting, creating an even larger market.
In September, New Jersey became the first state to surpass $1 billion in sports betting, and that number is only expected to increase.
With a booming market, Nascar believes this is a unique way to convert people to become fans of stock car racing. Unlike fantasy sports, which is a market in itself, the people who participate in sports betting and aren’t familiar with the sport may go from being a casual fan to a die-hard fan.
“There are a ton of users for fantasy but they’re already fans of the sport,” Solosky said. “It’s hard to convert a fantasy football fan to NASCAR, but you can do it with football betting with something like BetMGM, which has other types of betting.”
In October, Fubo Sportsbook became the fourth authorized gaming operator of Nascar, joining BetMGM, Penn Interactive and WynnBET.
Among the enhancements for Nascar’s sports betting program is a redesigned Nascar BetCenter from The Action Network, which includes unique content creation.
“We're thrilled to renew and expand our partnership with Nascar," Chad Millman, chief content officer from The Action Network, said. "They've been at the forefront of bringing innovative content and gaming options to fans for several years, reminding everyone that the rush of betting races is the perfect complement to watching them.”
Looking ahead to 2022, Nascar is working with Genius Sports on how the sanctioning body can help reshape the way the sport is wagered on.
Over the offseason, Nascar is working with Genius to explore the possibility of creating feature matchups and different types of betting (over/under, spread betting). With the Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Coliseum rapidly approaching on Sunday, Feb. 5, Nascar believes this will be a unique event that enables more distinct betting opportunities for fans through heat races.
“2022 is a big year for us because it’s the first year we’ll have an apples-to-apples comparison,” Solosky said. “We’ll have all of our partners for the whole season and we’re going to activate some tracks.”