Dec 29, 2018

Sin industries like marijuana and sports betting could shine in 2019

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Don't bet against sin industries like marijuana and sports betting in 2019, even if the broader economy and markets stumble.

The bottom line: Industries usually develop organically, including all the layers of infrastructure and logistics. These won't. Instead, they're being born into adulthood by rapidly-expanding legalization.

  • As a sign of high times, former Speaker John Boehner and former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld this year joined the board of a cannabis company, Acreage Holdings. Boehner invoked the need for veterans to access the drug legally.
  • And the farm bill signed this month legalizes hemp at the federal level.
  • Be smart: Lots of these companies will fail. But there will be some analysts who can't see the growth for the growing pains.

The legal marijuana industry had a banner year in 2018, as the global market exploded and cannabis pushed its way into the financial and cultural mainstream, Gillian Flaccus ("a member of the AP's marijuana beat team") writes:

  • "Liberal California became the largest legal U.S. marketplace, conservative Utah and Oklahoma embraced medical marijuana, and the U.S. East Coast got its first commercial pot shops" in Massachusetts in November.
  • "Canada ushered in broad legalization, and Mexico's Supreme Court set the stage for that country to follow."
  • "U.S. drug regulators approved the first marijuana-based pharmaceutical to treat kids with a form of epilepsy, and billions of investment dollars poured into cannabis companies. Even main street brands like Coca-Cola said they are considering joining the party."

"A majority of U.S. states have legalized marijuana to varying degrees, and U.S. companies are scrambling to get in on the action," the AP Markets Team adds:

  • "Both the NYSE and Nasdaq saw their first purely cannabis companies list shares in 2018. But stocks in the companies that produce and sell marijuana have largely underperformed the overall market this year."

An exception to the trend, per the Boston Globe: "New Hampshire’s libertarian streak has long been a source of pride for residents, but for cannabis users, that self-image isn’t living up to reality. With pot legalization sweeping through New England, New Hampshire is now an island of prohibition."

  • "Unlike Rhode Island, whose governor recently said the tiny state could be driven by peer pressure into legalizing the drug soon, [the Granite State] wants to hold out against the rising political tide."
  • "New Hampshire is surrounded by Vermont, Canada, Maine, and Massachusetts — all of which have legalized marijuana."

Flashback: The battle to legalize sports betting was won in May at the U.S. Supreme Court, and the specifics are being worked out in state legislatures and by the professional sports leagues.

Go deeper: "The high-stakes game for sports betting dollars."

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 5 p.m. ET: 716,101 — Total deaths: 33,854 — Total recoveries: 148,900.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 5 p.m. ET: 136,880 — Total deaths: 2,409 — Total recoveries: 2,612.
  3. Federal government latest: The first federal prisoner to die from coronavirus was reported from a correctional facility in Louisiana on Sunday.
  4. Public health updates: Fauci says 100,000 to 200,000 Americans could die from virus.
  5. State updates: Louisiana governor says state is on track to exceed ventilator capacity by end of this week — Cuomo says Trump's mandatory quarantine comments "panicked" some people into fleeing New York
  6. World updates: Italy on Sunday reports 756 new deaths, bringing its total 10,779. Spain reports almost 840 dead, another new daily record that bring its total to over 6,500.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Trump touts press briefing "ratings" as U.S. coronavirus case surge

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Trump sent about a half-dozen tweets on Sunday touting the high television ratings that his coronavirus press briefings have received, selectively citing a New York Times article that compared them to "The Bachelor" and "Monday Night Football."

Why it matters: The president has been holding daily press briefings in the weeks since the coronavirus pandemic was declared, but news outlets have struggled with how to cover them live — as Trump has repeatedly been found to spread misinformation and contradict public health officials.

World coronavirus updates: Total cases surge to over 700,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

There are now than more than 700,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus around the world, according to data from Johns Hopkins. The virus has now killed more than 32,000 people — with Italy alone reporting over 10,000 deaths.

The big picture: Governments around the world have stepped up public health and economic measures to stop the spread of the virus and soften the financial impact. In the U.S., now the site of the largest outbreak in the world, President Trump said Saturday he would issue a "strong" travel advisory for New York, New Jersey and parts of Connecticut.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 3 hours ago - Health