November is quickly becoming one of those big months for DraftKings.
Well, technically, Atlantic City’s oldest casino got the party started earlier this month. And it was highlighted by a meet-and-greet with former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Randall Cunningham.
And even more to the point, the Resorts sportsbook opened its temporary doors in August 2018, only a few days after the DraftKings app made history.
Of course, over the last 12 months, DraftKings has attracted standing-room-only crowds on several occasions. Super Bowl betting and March Madness being two of the biggest.
And overall, the DK team has no complaints about the NJ sports betting market. Frank Kunovic, head of retail operations for DraftKings, used the word “incredible” to describe the partnership with Resorts.
“As the first casino in Atlantic City, Resorts has proven to be tech-savvy market leaders. We share the same vision and have been able to drive fan engagement,” said Kunovic.
“Working with Resorts on the design of the space was seamless, and one year in it has become a destination for loyal sports fans in New Jersey and neighboring New York and Pennsylvania.”
When the Resorts sportsbook was renamed in November 2018, it was big news. Back then, DraftKings was THE app to beat. Things are a bit different now, so how has that big news translated into success for the Boston-based company?
NJ sports betting and permanent spaces
If we rewind to this time last year, the word “temporary” was being used as often as moneyline and point spreads around AC.
Besides DraftKings, only the William Hill sportsbook at Ocean Casino and Golden Nugget had full-fledged, permanent spaces.
At 5,000 square feet, DraftKings is still one of the larger retail spaces. When looking at just Atlantic City sportsbooks, DraftKings’ space is in the middle of the pack, similar in size to Tropicana. But both of those pale in comparison to Bally’s, which takes up a colossal 15,228 square feet.
When asked what separates the DraftKings retail space from Atlantic City’s other offerings, Kunovic said it’s all about “our extreme attention to detail and a strong focus on technology.”
“For example, our sportsbook at Resorts has 18 kiosks, a significant number in comparison (to other books). The sportsbook has the look and feel of a sports bar and is a great place to soak up the action on several big-screen TVs in comfortable leather chairs.”
While the majority of the NJ sports betting handle and revenue continues to come via apps, DraftKings does not ignore the importance of retail.
Since opening at Resorts, the company has unveiled additional spaces at del Lago Casino & Resorts in New York and Wild Rose Casino in Iowa. It also keeps things moving at the AC sportsbook on a weekly basis with promotions, deals and a Ladies Night at the Sportsbook on Fridays.
Does retail betting have a purpose?
New Jersey, however, is the state where it all began for DraftKings. Back in August of 2019, they made Garden State history by becoming the first operator to launch an NJ sportsbook app.
Now if we go strictly by numbers released by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, mobile and retail are lightyears apart.
Year to date (not including October), Resorts Digital reported more than $50.5 million in revenue. Besides DraftKings, the number includes the Resorts online sportsbook and Fox Bet apps.
Retail revenue, on the other hand, is just over $2.1 million.
Statewide, the online handle has exceeded $2.4 billion year to date versus $531.6 million at the retail locations. So with the scales tipped so heavily to one side, are sportsbooks at the casinos really needed?
Best not to think of it as two separate things. In fact, Kunovic described the retail experience as an extension of the digital product.
“Many of the same offers available on our sportsbook app are also available through the kiosks located throughout the retail space at Resorts,” Kunovic said.
“When we set out to design the retail sportsbook at Resorts, we wanted to mirror the retail product with our digital product. And one year in, it’s clear it has been a great success.”
Looking into the DraftKings crystal ball
It’s highly likely DraftKings will offer a similar response around this time next year. FanDuel Sportsbook may command the highest market share, but DraftKings is right behind them.
But unlike a blackjack player always splitting eights, NJ sports betting has included some unique opportunities.
DraftKings was one of the operators to offer Oscar odds earlier this year. And last week, the sportsbook offered odds on the KSI Logan Paul fight.
By the way, planning for Super Bowl 2020 betting (with or without the Eagles) is underway. Kunovic said sports fans all over should be on the lookout for special offers at “all retail locations with our mobile device.”
But as far as the overall DraftKings game plan goes, he notes that “we are still in the opening minutes of the first quarter of legalized sports betting in America.”
So now it’s all about building on that winning retail-mobile combination. In terms of maintaining its strong standing in NJ, the plan is simple:
“Knowing our customers and providing them with a unique and tailored experience has allowed us to maintain our market share,” Kunovic said. “We are the US sportsbook for the US sports fan.”