Written by Chris Monti•
FanDuel Goes Live in the Hoosier State
FanDuel’s ambitious expansion drive continued to gain momentum this week as it launched its supremely popular online sportsbook in Indiana. It has been live in New Jersey for more than a year and it has seized a market leading position in the Garden State. It launched its app in Pennsylvania in August and quickly stormed to the top of the leaderboard there, and it went live in West Virginia last month. This week’s launch means it is now available in four states and it aims to dominate the US sports betting industry for many years to come.
It already had a presence in Indiana, where it launched two retail sportsbooks last month. It has struck up a partnership with Boyd Gaming and it launched brick and mortar sportsbooks at four of its Midwest casinos: Blue Chip in Michigan City, Indiana; Belterra in Florence, Indiana; Diamond Jo in Dubuque, Iowa; and Diamond Jo in Northwood, Iowa. It suggests that Iowa could be the next state in which FanDuel’s online offering goes live.
“We’re seeing incredible momentum at our Indiana retail sportsbooks and bringing our online sports betting platform to the state of Indiana is a natural next step,” said Mike Raffensperger, chief marketing officer at FanDuel. “Now all sports fans in Indiana can see for themselves why we’re the number one online sportsbook in the country.”
All Hail FanDuel
William Hill was firmly established as the market leader in Nevada when the US Supreme Court struck down PASPA in May 2018. It tied up exclusive risk management deals in Delaware and Rhode Island, and it has a presence in most states that have legalized sports betting since the federal ban was axed. It still holds a coveted status as the leading operator in the US sports betting industry, but FanDuel is now billing itself as the number one online sportsbook.
New Jersey has overtaken Nevada as the largest sports betting jurisdiction in the US, and FanDuel is the clear leader there, with DraftKings in second place and William Hill a distant third. Pennsylvania is also growing rapidly, and FanDuel’s strong position in the Keystone State probably means it can justify its claims of being the top online operator in the country. The combination of the strong FanDuel brand name and the operational expertise of the Paddy Power Betfair team has proven to be a winning combination and its potential appears vast.
Paddy Power Betfair, which recently rebranded as Flutter Entertainment, bought FanDuel to front its US sports betting operations last year, and it now looks like an extremely shrewd decision. It is in the process of acquiring The Stars Group – which includes FOX Bet as well as PokerStars, BetStars and Sky Bet – and if it skirts competition concerns it will be able to double down on its market leading position Stateside, as FOX Bet looks like becoming a strong brand in its own right.
Another reason for its success is the generous sign-up promotion that FanDuel offers. It bills the promo as a $500 risk free bet, and it allows bettors to wager up to $500 on a sports betting market. If the bet loses, it will refund the stake in the form of a free wager. It also offers rolling promotions, a cash out function, live betting and a reasonable range of sports to bet on. It does not compare to the depth offered by Paddy Power, but it covers all the major US sports and some other popular sports from across the globe.
West Virginia was among the first states to legalize sports betting after PASPA was struck down, but it made a slow start to trading. It is now starting to pick up after both FanDuel and DraftKings launched online books in the past month. That helped the handle increase to $7.7 million over the past week, the best seven-day trading period in the state’s history and the sixth consecutive week that the total handle has reached at least $6 million.
Another early adopter was Mississippi and its performance has clearly been impacted by only permitting retail sportsbooks to launch. Its sports betting handle increased 19.2% year-on-year during September, reaching $37.9 million, while operators earned $5.6 million in revenue. News reports stated that the handle “skyrocketed”, but it its interesting to note that it was smaller than Iowa’s. Both states have a similar population, but sports betting has only just begun in Iowa, so Mississippi’s mature industry really should be far larger.
Yet Iowa sportsbooks took $38.5 million in wagers during September, 56% of which came online. More apps will go live in Iowa in the near future and it should totally eclipse Mississippi in the months ahead. That could lead to pressure being placed on the Magnolia State to permit online sports betting, as it is currently missing out on significant revenue tax by confining operators to brick and mortar operations.
New England Hopes for Super Bowl Boost
Rhode Island was one of six states to roll out legal sports betting in 2018, along with Delaware, New Jersey, Mississippi, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. The idea was to plug holes in its budget by taking a 51% revenue tax on sports betting, but it has not been the silver bullet that lawmakers were hoping for. The Rhode Island Lottery, which works with William Hill and IGT to run sports betting in the state, reported this week that sports betting revenue stands at at less than half what was initially projected.
Yet that has not stopped another New England state, New Hampshire, pressing ahead with plans to launch sports betting. Gov. Chris Sununu called WEEI radio to announce that it will have launched in time for the Super Bowl, and it could be in line for a roaring start to life if the New England Patriots make it to the big game for the fourth time in a row. The Pats have made a perfect 7-0 start to the season and they are now the clear favourites in the futures betting to win the Vince Lombardi Trophy.