How Big A Deal Is It For DraftKings Sportsbook To Be First To Market? Very Big

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DraftKings surprised everyone with its announcement that it was launching its mobile sports betting app in New Jersey last week.

When you think about it, DraftKings and its casino partner, Resorts Hotel Casino, do not even have a land-based sportsbook. In fact, the mobile app was DraftKings first legal sports betting product ever.

Before the announcement came, most assumed MGM would be the first to bring mobile sports betting to the Garden State. You know what they say about assuming, right?

To be honest, from the outside looking in, DraftKings appeared to be rushing to market just to be the first.

So is being first to market that important, especially when more companies will likely launch NJ online sports betting operations within days?

The short answer is yes.

The business case for being first to market

In the business world, especially the technology niche, being first to market is very important.

You might remember all the cars you bought, but undoubtedly you were most excited about your first car because of the freedom and independence it represented.

That excitement is why being first to market matters — it’s something that is memorable.

Being first to market allows a company to gain market advantages by:

  • Setting the benchmarks and industry standards for product comparison
  • Building a customer base and beginning to develop brand recognition and loyalty campaigns ahead of its competitors
  • Avoiding the high costs of luring customers away from competitors

But it is not all rosy for those that are first to market. There are also some disadvantages to being first, such as:

  • It allows competitors to avoid the mistakes of the first
  • Competitors can capitalize on marketing efforts of the first in the market to lure potential customers that are on the fence
  • Competitors can watch customer feedback and use it to add features to their product before it launches
  • The costs to educate customers are greater for the first to market than for later market entrants

When all is said and done, the advantages of DraftKings being first to market far outweigh the disadvantages for one reason: DraftKings Sportsbook app will always be first.

Being first is marketing gold. People trust the first. They remember the first. Their default is the first.

Does the business case for being the first translate to the gaming industry, though?

Again, the short answer is yes. And there is data to prove it.

The gaming industry case for being first to market

The Center for Gambling Studies at Rutgers University releases a yearly report on the state of gambling in New Jersey.

The most recent report contained data around customer loyalty that supports the case that DraftKings Sportsbook app being first to market matters.

One of the most exciting data points of the report is that the overwhelming majority (75 percent) of online gamblers in 2015 registered for a single account. Just one.

With several NJ online casinos to choose from, most online players picked one and decided to stay with that one. You can see how just having one choice to place a sports bet can be an advantage for DraftKings.

The report also included some fascinating data regarding daily fantasy sports (DFS). It appears DraftKings, as the leader in the DFS market, will have a distinct edge over the casinos that will follow.

Of the 336 DFS players that responded to the questionnaire, all but seven of those gambled. Chances are a good majority of those players have a DraftKings account.

Pair the customer loyalty data with being first to market and DraftKings immediately becomes the one to beat in a nascent industry with a huge upside.

In fact, according to the report, nearly 70 percent of New Jersey’s nine million residents reported gambling in the past year.

DraftKings better act fast

For now, DraftKings Sportsbook has the market to themselves. But one thing is for sure, their solo status won’t last long.

Look for MGM and Caesars to enter the market as soon as the casinos receive approval from the NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement. Not far behind them are Resorts’ other skin BetStars, Hard Rock Atlantic City’s online partner bet365, and a couple other online sportsbook players.

Even if the rush to market for DraftKings was … well, rushed, it has the potential to pay off big for the DFS operator’s first foray into the legal sports betting market.

The only thing that is left is for them to get those customers to sign up for an account before the competition gets in the game.

Image credit: Martin Valigursky /

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Kim Yuhl is a freelance writer and blogger who writes about poker culture and the online gambling industry. A part-time member of the poker media since 2013, Kim recently sold her marketing business to write full-time while exploring the world.