How FanDuel Found Its Way To The Top Of The NJ Sports Betting Mountain

Posted on July 16, 2019

After eight-straight months of leading the pack, FanDuel Sportsbook and its partner Meadowlands Racetrack haven’t looked back.

The latest numbers from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement continue the same story: FanDuel is once again No. 1 by a wide margin.

Land-based partner Meadowlands reported $4,382,043 in revenue, $1,656,449 of which came from retail. The mobile take of $2,725,594 is attributed mostly to the market leader but does include PointsBet Sportsbook

Since claiming the top spot in November 2018, FanDuel and the Meadowlands have enjoyed a robust market share.

But back in the early days of NJ sports betting, DraftKings Sportsbook was the book to beat thanks to a one-month head start. How did FanDuel outpace its daily fantasy sports competitor, not to mention the rest of the market?

There are obvious reasons, but the more subtle decisions that FanDuel made in its first year are definitely worth mentioning.

FanDuel targets offshore market

FanDuel is clearly one of the early success stories.

Since launching retail operations (July 14, 2018) and mobile (Sept. 1, 2018), the company has spent the majority of the time ahead of the 13 competing sportsbook apps in NJ and nine additional retail operators.

Kip Levin, president and COO of FanDuel Group, said the company is obviously thrilled with the result. And he is talking about the market as a whole.

“It’s really exciting to see it within one year and to get to the scale and volume that you see in Nevada where it obviously has been in exitstance for a long time. From our standpoint, it has certainly grown a lot faster and been a lot bigger than our initial expectations.”

Prior to launching, the team was well aware of the existing market — the illegal offshore one. It was those operators that they viewed as the competition, and what they built the game plan around.

More specifically, Levin said, putting out a compelling product was key. They combined it with an informative customer service approach in hopes of moving people away from the offshore sites.

Offering more markets and bet types than other NJ operators has certainly attracted customers, too. So have promotions and bonuses.

“We are trying to do things that people in the US have never seen before,” said Levin. “… Exciting, fun promotions have helped us really establish ourselves as a leader in the market.”

Women’s World Cup and early payouts

Some promotions have included early payouts on futures. The most recent example was rewarding customers who wagered on the US women’s soccer team winning the World Cup. Winnings were paid out prior to the quarterfinal round.

Team USA went on to knock off France, England and the Netherlands to bring the trophy back stateside. But the early payout has become a sort of a surprise tradition at FanDuel.

In December 2018, FanDuel paid out Alabama bets early for the College Football Playoffs, even though the Crimson Tide had yet to reach the playoffs officially. (Clemson ended up the winner in that bout.)

Of course, women’s team sports do not come close to matching the handle the NFL, NCAA Tournament and NBA generate.

However, this year’s tournament drew huge betting numbers. Levin did not have a specific numbers breakdown, but it was still historic.

He said the semifinal game against England drew the biggest handle to date in terms of women’s team sports. The championship game had the second-largest handle.

“Look across our global businesses, the Women’s World Cup was the biggest women’s event in terms of total betting handle in the history of Paddy Power Betfair (now Flutter Entertainment).

“It was really exciting to see the interest in that, and it definitely exceeded everybody’s expectations. It obviously speaks volumes.”

Staying at the top of a growing market

Like Team USA, being the current champs is not a guarantee for future dominance. Look what happened to the Golden State Warriors in this year’s NBA Finals.

But FanDuel does have one rather large advantage, at least for now. Unlike the sportsbooks affiliated with Atlantic City casinos, FanDuel’s close proximity to New York City continues to be a huge win on the retail end.

During football season, for example, FanDuel at the Meadowlands stayed busy each weekend. The space had Super Bowl parties in February, too.

“It certainly has exceeded our expectations in terms of the volume and size of it,” Levin said. “It is already up there, if not bigger than, the top sportsbooks in Las Vegas.”

The company also is in the unique position of having four different verticals that lead to valuable cross-selling opportunities. The others are:

The long-term plan is to have those accounts synched together with the sportsbook platform. That remains a work in progress.

For now, the focus is on “making sure we feel really good about the product we have on the market.”

“Customer experience and innovation is really how we will do it and hope to stay in the spot that we are in,” Levin said.

NJ paving the way for PA and NY

Going forward, New Jersey will serve as the foundation to FanDuel’s bigger US sports betting plans.

The company will hopefully launch its PA online sportsbook sometime before football season to complement its FanDuel Sportsbook at Valley Forge Casino.

And New York retail sportsbooks will open this month. In fact, FanDuel is setting up operations at Tioga Downs with plans to open its doors by the end of the week.

But neither of the neighboring jurisdictions got up and running as quickly as the Garden State. The first year of NJ online sports betting activity, however, provided some valuable lessons.

From a mobile perspective, Levin said FanDuel will be launching in Pennsylvania with a “pretty strong playbook that should set us up well.”

Retail wise, FanDuel has the bodies to get things up and running rather smoothly. We are talking about an international company with more than 600 locations throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland. These are employees with “real retail” experience.

“We’ve got a team that has got their legs under them and is working on retail locations,” said Levin.

“We are all systems go on retail. Having a much bigger team has been very beneficial for us … (But) not everything is going to be like the Meadowlands for sure.”

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Bill Gelman

Bill Gelman is a veteran sports writer based just outside of Philadelphia and not too far from the Jersey Shore. Bill spends time in Atlantic City writing about casino openings and expansions, special events and now NJ sports betting and online gambling.

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