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State of the Union: US Sports Betting Update – FanDuel leads New Jersey to New Heights

FanDuel bolstered its newfound status as the market-leading operator in New Jersey’s nascent sports betting industry by significantly outpacing its rivals in March. Garden State sportsbooks held revenue of almost $32 million off an impressive $372 million handle last month as March Madness gripped the country. FanDuel alone accounted for more than half of that total as it posted revenue of $17.5 million, leaving DraftKings and William Hill firmly in its shade. It was the second consecutive month in which FanDuel has topped the New Jersey sports betting market and that bodes well for the future as it plots a national expansion.

Online sports betting continues to dominate in New Jersey and it accounted for more than 80% of the handle once more. FanDuel reported that $13.3 million of the $17.5 million of it held came from its online offering. “The FanDuel Sportsbook continues to be the top operator in the New Jersey market both in mobile and retail,” said the company, which is owned by Paddy Power Betfair. “There was incredible excitement for March Madness, noted by record-breaking revenue numbers for the FanDuel Sportsbook, which had the biggest revenue month for any operator since the launch of legalized sports betting in New Jersey last June.

The King is Usurped

States like New Jersey and Pennsylvania are making significant tax revenues thanks to sports wagering, and legislators elsewhere are looking on in envy. Iowa is pressing ahead with its bid to join Nevada, Delaware, New Jersey, Mississippi, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and New Mexico in offering sports betting. A bill that would permit sports wagering passed the Senate with bipartisan support in a 31-18 vote this week, and it will now head to the House. It would impose a tax of 7.5% on revenue and charge just $45,000 for a licensing fee, which pales in comparison to the sky-high demands in Pennsylvania.

A sports betting bill also passed through another legislative chamber in Indiana this week, although mobile wagering has been removed from it. That means the state would probably miss out on 80% of the revenue it could tax if online were permitted. House Public Policy Committee Chairman Ben Smaltz shrugged off concerns that a lack of mobile wagering would leave Indiana unable to seize much business from the black market and stripped it from S 552. This bill will now go to a conference committee. Several other states are pressing ahead in an effort to introduce sports betting before the legislative session ends, and the figures emerging from New Jersey might make them redouble their efforts.

DraftKings was the first to market in the Garden State and it led the way in the early months of the industry. It held more than $7 million in March, which is broadly in line with previous months, but FanDuel – its longstanding daily fantasy sports competitor – has leapfrogged it. March Madness was the key driver for the month-on-month increase in handle in New Jersey. Basketball has accounted for almost half of the year to date handle in the state, leaving it well ahead of football, baseball and parlay betting.

Last year, Nevada’s sports betting handle for March stood at slightly north of $300 million. It will have to record a considerable increase in 2019 if it is to hold onto its crown as the top state for sports wagering handle in the U.S. It enjoyed a monopoly for many years until PASPA came crashing down in March 2018, and many predicted New Jersey would eventually overtake it, but few expected it to happen so quickly.

More Challengers Emerging

New Jersey is the 11th largest state by population and eighth by GDP, so it was always likely to build up a strong sports betting market. By contrast, Nevada is only 32nd by population and 33rd by GDP, so it will struggle to retain its crown unless it remains a thriving tourist destination for sports bettors. Those on the east coast can now head to Atlantic City instead, and the Garden State is surging with momentum right now.

Yet Pennsylvania could easily challenge New Jersey in this regard. It was late to the sports betting party, but it is the fifth largest state by population and the sixth largest state by GDP. It is the biggest state to legalize sports wagering, and it is packed full of sports teams. Philadelphia boasts the Eagles, the Sixers, the Flyers and the Phillies, while sports-mad Pittsburgh hosts the Penguins, Steelers and the Pirates. It has got off to a slower start, partly because the state’s legislators are charging an eye-watering $10 million licensing fee and taking a 36% cut of all revenue.

New Jersey is the 11th largest state by population and eighth by GDP, so it was always likely to build up a strong sports betting market. By contrast, Nevada is only 32nd by population and 33rd by GDP, so it will struggle to retain its crown unless it remains a thriving tourist destination for sports bettors. Those on the east coast can now head to Atlantic City instead, and the Garden State is surging with momentum right now.

Yet Pennsylvania could easily challenge New Jersey in this regard. It was later to the sports betting party, but it is the fifth largest state by population and the sixth largest state by GDP. It is the biggest state to legalize sports wagering, and it is packed full of sports teams. Philadelphia boasts the Eagles, the Sixers, the Flyers and the Phillies, while sports-mad Pittsburgh hosts the Penguins, Steelers and the Pirates. It has got off to a slower start, partly because the state’s legislators are charging an eye-watering $10 million licensing fee and taking a 36% cut of all revenue.

Pennsylvania Crying Out for Mobile Wagering

Yet several operators have now caved in and a formative industry is taking shape. Bettors in the Keystone State wagered $44.5 million in March and operators enjoyed healthy revenue of $5.5 million, which is equivalent to around 12.5% win. That $44.5 million looks tiny alongside New Jersey’s $372 million, but the big difference is that Pennsylvania is not yet offering online/mobile sports betting. If you only took land-based revenue into account, it is pretty similar to the figures seen in New Jersey, showing how great the online opportunity is for Pennsylvanian operators online.

Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh led the charge, with handle of $11.9 million and revenue of $1.3 million. SugarHouse in Philadelphia was next, with $9.2 million in handle and $1.2 million in revenue, and then Parx Casino in Bensalem took almost $1 million in revenue off a handle of $8 million. Valley Forge Casino opened a sportsbook on March 13 and the number of operators in the state continues to swell, but mobile wagering is desperately needed.

The various operators have already lined up online sports betting partners and they are working on fine-tuning their digital offerings. Penn National’s Hollywood Casino has selected William Hill as its partner, while Caesars-owned Harrah’s Philadelphia is working with Scientific Games. Greenwood Gaming, which operates sportsbooks at Parx Casino, the South Philadelphia Turf Club and the Valley Forge Turf Club, is working with Kambi, and Rush Street Gaming has also selected Kambi to supply online sports betting for SugarHouse and Rivers. FanDuel is working with Valley Forge Casino, and that one could well become the market leader based on what we have seen in New Jersey.

Mobile sports betting should launch in Pennsylvania before the summer. “We expect to begin live testing of the online sports betting app for at least one of the approved casino vendors within the next two to three weeks,” said Doug Harbach, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board communications director.

States Continue to Steam Ahead

States like New Jersey and Pennsylvania are making significant tax revenues thanks to sports wagering, and legislators elsewhere are looking on in envy. Iowa is pressing ahead with its bid to join Nevada, Delaware, New Jersey, Mississippi, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and New Mexico in offering sports betting. A bill that would permit sports wagering passed the Senate with bipartisan support in a 31-18 vote this week, and it will now head to the House. It would impose a tax of 7.5% on revenue and charge just $45,000 for a licensing fee, which pales in comparison to the sky-high demands in Pennsylvania.

A sports betting bill also passed through another legislative chamber in Indiana this week, although mobile wagering has been removed from it. That means the state would probably miss out on 80% of the revenue it could tax if online were permitted. House Public Policy Committee Chairman Ben Smaltz shrugged off concerns that a lack of mobile wagering would leave Indiana unable to seize much business from the black market and stripped it from S 552. This bill will now go to a conference committee. Several other states are pressing ahead in an effort to introduce sports betting before the legislative session ends, and the figures emerging from New Jersey might make them redouble their efforts.

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