US Sports Betting Update – FanDuel stops using controversial “risk-free” terminology
FanDuel no longer refers to its welcome bonus as a “risk-free bet” after deciding to adopt more responsible terminology. Responsible gambling campaigners have argued that sign-up offers of that nature are misleading and inaccurate. The country’s most popular online sportsbook now calls its sign-up offer a “no sweat first bet” after taking the feedback on board. Chief executive Amy Howe said the company plans to “grow up.”
The flagship welcome bonus from FanDuel allows new customers to place a bet worth $10 or more on any sporting event. If it loses, they are given a refund, up to a maximum of $1,000. However, the refund is paid in site credit as opposed to cash. That means it is not genuinely risk-free. The site credit takes the form of a single free-bet token. Bettors must complete a 1x rollover requirement on that token, and any winnings they earn will be paid as cash.
Essentially, it means you need to place a successful bet at odds of at least +100 to recoup the money you lost from your first wager. If your first two bets are unsuccessful, you lose your first deposit amount. Responsible gambling advocates have called the “risk-free terminology” false and misleading, and they have campaigned for such language to be prohibited. FanDuel has now responded with a subtle rebrand.
No Sweat First Bet
The FanDuel Sportsbook welcome bonus is now described as “No Sweat First Bet $1,000.” It does not mention “money back,” and it clearly states: “Get up to $1,000 back in free bets if you don’t win your first bet.” Howe told the Wall Street Journal that FanDuel will use more responsible terminology going forward. She said the company feels “a huge sense of obligation” to put things right.
However, responsible gambling campaigners are still unconvinced. Dr. Timothy Fong, co-director of UCLA’s Gambling Studies Program, called it “tone deaf.” Consultant Brianne Doura-Schawohl was more measured. “It’s better, but it implies that you don’t have to worry about it, and we know that’s not the case,” consultant Brianne Doura-Schawohl said. “Some individuals need to be mindful that this is something that could have significant consequences.”
She added that campaigners cannot “expect perfection right away” and described it as a step in the right direction. She also praised FanDuel for taking feedback on board, listening to problem gambling advocates and making changes.
Several other sportsbooks, including BetMGM and Caesars, still regularly use “risk-free bet” when describing their welcome bonuses. A couple of operators have stood out by offering genuinely risk-free bets, with refunds paid in cash. Unibet in New Jersey has offered cash refunds on losing first bets, while Bally Bet and Hard Rock have also given out cash refunds on certain welcome bonuses.
FanDuel Opens New Sportsbook at Audi Field
FanDuel will make its Washington DC debut when it opens a 2,700-square-foot sportsbook at DC United’s Audi Field on Friday. It will be the first MLS stadium with a built-in retail sports betting venue. Actor Carl Anthony Payne II, who has had roles on The Cosby Show, Martin,
and Young Dylan, will be on hand to place the ceremonial first bet after the ribbon-cutting.
The sportsbook boasts 47 HD TV screens, three teller windows with ticket writers and 18 self-service kiosks. It is the third retail sportsbook in the district, along with the Caesars by William Hill venue at Capital One Arena and the BetMGM Sportsbook at Nationals Park. Caesars and BetMGM both offer mobile sports betting within a two-block radius of their retail venues in DC. FanDuel is permitted to follow suit, but it has decided against that right now.
“DC United is looking forward to the opportunity of working with a first-rate operator in this new and exciting space,” said Sam Porter, chief strategy officer at the MLS franchise, which has won the MLS Cup four times. “The FanDuel Sportsbook is best-in-class and we believe their expertise, technology, and product will provide our fans, guests at Audi Field, and the Buzzard Point neighborhood a full-slate of entertainment options.”
FanDuel Strikes Official Sports Betting Partnership with NFL in Canada
FanDuel has tied up a deal to become the official sportsbook partner of the NFL in Canada. It builds on the partnership between FanDuel and the league in the United States. The agreement allows FanDuel to use the NFL’s intellectual property in the market and run NFL-themed campaigns, including exciting opportunities for FanDuel users to win trips to games such as the Super Bowl.
The company hammered home the responsibility message when announcing the agreement. “We’re thrilled to extend our partnership with the NFL to Canada,” said Dale Hooper, general manager at FanDuel Canada. “Ontario sports fans are passionate about American football, and this collaborative effort will bring them more ways to enjoy the sport with friends and family in a fun and responsible way.”
Meanwhile, rival DraftKings has been fined CA$100,000 for breaching advertising regulations in Ontario. Canada’s largest province rolled out a regulated sports betting market earlier this year after the federal government amended the Criminal Code in 2021. Leading U.S. operators have piled in, including DraftKings, FanDuel and BetMGM, along with international heavyweights such as Bet365 and 888. Operators are forbidden from promoting bonuses or anything that can be viewed as an “inducement” to gambling in Ontario under strict licensing conditions.
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario decided that DraftKings posted or aired “multiple broad gambling inducements” after launching in May. They included advertisements of boosted odds on TV commercials and social media channels. BetMGM and PointsBet faced similar rebukes last month, and they were fined CA$30,000 and CA$48,000 respectively. “The AGCO will continue to monitor the activities of all registered operators and hold them to high standards of responsible gambling, player protection and game integrity,” said chief executive Tom Mungham. “It is in the public interest that we ensure they are meeting their obligations under Ontario’s Gaming Control Act and the Standards.”