FanDuel stood head and shoulders above all its rivals as the dominant operator in the New Jersey sports betting market during February. Garden State sportsbooks reported revenue of $12.8 million and FanDuel seized more than 60% of that for itself in a supremely dominant month of trading. Its digital sportsbook recorded revenue of more than $6.5 million in February and its retail site at the Meadowlands took almost $1.5 million. Its rivals could only dream of such figures and they are all the more impressive when you consider that FanDuel lost $1 million on the Super Bowl, which took place on February 3.
The state saw its sports betting handle drop from a record $385 million in January to $320 million in February, according to figures from the New Jersey Division of Gaming. That underwhelming performance can largely be attributed to a decline in the amount of football games to bet on. The Super Bowl took its toll on revenue as it recorded a win figure of just 3.9%, and several operators were left in the red.
Borgata suffered a particularly painful $715,727 loss, while with William Hill operation at Monmouth Park was down more than $500,000. The majority of land-based operators lost money on sports betting during the month, with Meadowlands, Hard Rock and Resorts the only ones left in the black. Digital sportsbooks accounted for more than 80% of revenue once again and FanDuel was the clear winner. Its main competitor, DraftKings, brought in roughly $3.7 million, a sharp decrease from the $6.9 million it held in January.
That left FanDuel as the clear market leader during February. It shares the license at Meadowlands with PointsBet, and that operator may account for a tiny portion of the $8.1 million revenue made, but a good 95% will have gone to FanDuel. European betting giant Paddy Power Betfair owns FanDuel and it took a loss on its US sports betting division in 2018. However, it sees great potential in the sector and it should be encouraged by the latest set of figures. It is a bit of an arm’s race right now, as operators have to invest in customer acquisition as they bid to seize share of an increasingly competitive market, but the investment should bear fruit in the years ahead.
The plan now is to roll the FanDuel Sportsbook brand out in other states in an effort to become the market leader in this nascent industry. This week it opened its first site in Pennsylvania, at the Boyd Gaming-owned Valley Forge Casino near Philadelphia. Brent Celek, a former tight end for the Philadelphia Eagles, was on hand to place the first bet at the 1,800 sq ft facility. It has opened just in time for March Madness, one of the biggest betting frenzies in the US sports wagering calendar, and it features seven teller windows, 29 video displays, two sports tickers and seating
“Opening the FanDuel Sportsbook at Valley Forge Casino Resort is the start of FanDuel Group’s retail sports betting expansion in partnership with Boyd Gaming,” said chief executive Matt King. “Our experience operating the top sportsbook in New Jersey at the Meadowlands Racetrack will serve us well as we enter Philadelphia and compete for customers in an area with some of the most passionate and knowledgeable sports fans.”
Competition is already strong in Philly as Greenwood Gaming operates sportsbooks at Parx Casino and the South Philly Turf Club, while Harrah’s Philadelphia and SugarHouse Casino have sports betting operations up and running in the city. Yet FanDuel has blown its rivals out of the water in New Jersey and it has similar ambitions in the Keystone State. “In less than a year, FanDuel has established itself as the leading sports-betting brand in a competitive New Jersey market,” said Keith Smith, president and chief executive at Boyd Gaming. “We look forward to bringing their market-leading product to Valley Forge, and are confident the FanDuel Sportsbook will serve as a powerful draw for new and existing customers throughout the Philadelphia market.”
A Piece of the Action
FanDuel will be keen to launch online sports betting as soon as possible in the state, as operators are putting the finishing touches on their offerings. Rhode Island has watched developments in New Jersey with interest, as it only legalized retail sports wagering last year. More than four-fifths of wagers are placed online in the Garden State and now it wants a piece of that action too. The state’s House of Representatives passed a bill to authorize online and mobile wagering this week, and it now simply awaits a signature form Governor Gina Raimondo. That should be a slam dunk, as her budget was instrumental in legalizing in-person sports betting in Rhode Island.
The new bill would allow the Twin Rivers casino to run online sports betting, and the lower chamber voted 64-8 in its favour. DraftKings sent Sarah Koch, assistant director of government affairs, to a previous hearing to explain the legalities of mobile wagering and she said: “In most case law the precedent shows that what matters is where the bet is accepted, not necessarily where the bet is placed. So as long as the casino is accepting the bet from their location, they could accept them from anywhere within the state of Rhode Island.” However, DraftKings is unlikely to expand into the state any time soon, as William Hill and IGT have the exclusive rights to run sports betting for the Rhode Island Lottery and there are no plans afoot to change that arrangement.
Over in Indiana, the House Committee on Public Policy will examine Bill S 552, which seeks to legalize sports betting, next week. “We’ll hear the bill as written, get input from all the stakeholders and the public on what they think about the gaming bill in its entirety, and use what we learned to make adjustments to the bill if necessary,” said committee chair Ben Smaltz said. “The first step will be to hear the bill as is, and the following step to work on changes.”
It is a wide ranging bill and sports betting is just one of a number of components. That could cause it to collapse under its own weight. Yet Smaltz is a fan of permitting sports wagering and that part of the bill could potentially go through if other parts drop off. “I think it’s an easy reach for allowing sports wagering in the casinos,” he said. “That seems similar to adding any other table or video game.” However, if too much drops from the bill it could lose support, so it is finely poised. The legislature wraps up in Indiana by April 29, and we should anticipate a busy few weeks ahead.
Kristian heads up the content and SEO team at Digital Fuel having worked in digital marketing for ten years. He’s as passionate about creative content as he is about Brighton & Hove Albion FC and when he’s not following football he’s writing about Brighton’s bustling pub scene.