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New Jersey Embraces Sports Gambling, and a Billion-Dollar Business Is Born

“This is a generational thing, and what we’ve seen is a perfect storm develop over the last 20 years, with a boom in fantasy sports, the interest in ‘moneyball’ and the democracy of information through technology,” said Chad Millman, the chief content officer at The Action Network, a subscriber-based media company. “It’s meant that fans have become more opportunistic about their fandom. They think about winning individually, not about rooting for a team.”

The Action Network runs a website and an app offering data, research and betting tools, as well as general coverage of sports and the nuances of cashing in on them. It also produces a betting show — called “I’ll Take That Bet” — for ESPN+, the sports broadcaster’s new streaming platform.

Millman would not say how many subscribers the Action Network has in its first year, but since April, he said, users of the company’s app have logged 13 million bets, and the circulation of the Action Network’s email newsletter has grown nearly tenfold, to 240,000.

“In general, sports fans want to be smarter than their friends,” Millman said. “As sports betting becomes more and more part of the conversation, people are trying to figure out what the language of it is.”

For now at least, there is a difference between a general sports audience and sports betting audience, a gap Kerney, the former “SportsCenter” anchor, is trying to navigate on her show, created by the bookmaker FanDuel, from the Meadowlands.

“Most sports bettors will notice every second on or off the clock, every yard, every pitch, every shot, because any of these can ultimately affect their bets,” said Kevin Grigsby, the show’s executive producer. “So your story, programming, messaging needs narrative that caters to both cohorts.”

Kerney and Grigsby’s bosses at FanDuel are making a big bet that they can close that gap quickly. FanDuel is owned by the European bookmakers Paddy Power, as is TVG, the cable network that is home to Kerney’s show. TVG reaches 40 million homes and gives horseplayers wall-to-wall coverage of races that they can bet on through a proprietary website or app. As sports betting expands, TVG is poised to also expand programming like Kerney’s show. FanDuel already takes bets on all sports.

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