The DraftKings Sportsbook mobile application will be available for download on Wednesday, and the company will begin taking bets immediately thereafter.
Under a licensing agreement with Resorts AC and a partnership with Kambi, DraftKings is the first operator to launch a mobile sports betting platform in New Jersey. Customers can register now for early access during a public, invite-only period.
This week, product lead Dan Hannigan-Daley gave Legal Sports Report a nickel tour around the new app that’s been almost a year in the making.
First look at DraftKings Sportsbook
With this rollout, DraftKings now distributes three separate mobile apps:
- DK Live
- DraftKings Sportsbook
The company’s in-house team developed the sportsbook from scratch, so it’s no surprise to see a resemblance to its sister apps. DraftKings uses its crowned-D logo and black/green color scheme across all three, and navigation is universally intuitive.
Although separate, the apps are wired together underneath the hood. “Everything talks to each other,” as Hannigan-Daley put it. More on that in a moment.
The DraftKings Sportsbook offers every conceivable bet type, including game/individual props, futures, and alternate lines. Users can see betting trends and other data along the way, and the app boasts a vast suite of in-play options.
Users can toggle the display system for odds, too. While Nevada bettors have become accustomed to American odds, the decimal or fractional formats might be more approachable to inexperienced bettors. Developers created a quickstart guide for newcomers unfamiliar with the terminology.
The desktop platform mirrors the app, which is fully native on both Android and iOS.
Betting lines and functionality are only available to customers in approved locations — so just NJ, so far.
Betting carousel provides easy access
Making sports betting accessible to casual bettors was a big part of Hannigan-Daley’s goal. “Sports betting can be very intimidating if you don’t know what you’re doing,” he said.
To that end, the primary interface does not include a big board displaying a long list of betting lines. Users can find those buried a little deeper inside the app.
Instead, DraftKings presents a carousel highlighting the most relevant wagers. It’s dynamic, customized by an individual’s daily fantasy sports habits, their DK Live preferences, and their betting history.
If you frequently bet on soccer, for example, you’re likely to see those lines in your carousel. Did you stack the Red Sox sluggers in your DFS lineups tonight? Perhaps you’d like to bet the over on their game against the Yankees, too.
In developer-speak, these quick links minimize the “friction” in the betting process, limiting the number of clicks between a user and the wagers they want. From the user’s perspective, the carousel puts their most probable bets at hand, as Hannigan-Daley wants.
It’s going to be awesome for us in terms of being able to deliver what you need right when you need it. One of the key points we got from our user testing is that speed to getting your bet down is inherently important.
You’ll also notice that DraftKings is taking a user-friendly approach to market names. “For the common sports fan, ‘moneyline’ doesn’t really mean anything,” Hannigan-Daley said.
Instead, DraftKings shows bettors simple questions like, “Who will win?”
Robust in-play betting
Sports betting is a great way to engage fans, but that engagement can have a short lifespan during a lopsided matchup. The early weeks of the college football season, for example, often feature 50-point blowouts, making continued engagement a challenge, Hannigan-Daley said.
You know, betting on the spread, the total, the moneyline — that’s all well and good. But when a game is a blowout, your engagement is more-or-less done. We want to make sure you continue to be engaged in those events.
In-play betting is the solution to that problem, a wildly popular option in some markets.
DraftKings aims to provide the most robust in-play platform out there. Bettors can wager on each individual point in tennis, for example, or each pitch in a baseball game. The type and result of every play in a given football drive is fair fodder, too.
According to Hannigan-Daley, in-play betting will be as granular as data permits.
It depends on the speed of the feeds. There’s some work to be done there. The US has to catch up to the rest of the world. In tennis, the feeds are coming from the umpire’s chair. For baseball, it’s a little bit slow, but that’s where we’re working to get to.
The interface is impeccable in the testing environment, with in-play lines constantly refreshing to display the most current prices.
Every bet is an in-play bet
The dedicated in-play section isn’t the only spot to find action for a game in progress. DraftKings uses a live ticket system that essentially turns every bet into an in-play bet.
Here’s the explanation from Hannigan-Daley:
We think this is really going to change the way people are following their bets. It’s not something that’s currently available in the US in any capacity.
Once you’ve actually placed a bet, as odds are changing, we’re going to give you the opportunity to cash out that bet early — before it’s even settled. Before the outcome is actually known.
After placing a bet, open tickets show a “Cash Out” button. Its live value will fluctuate based on pregame or in-game activity.
For example, say you bet $5 on the Red Sox moneyline, and the opposing pitcher pulls a hamstring during warmups. As the lines adjust, you may find that your ticket is worth more than $5 before the game has even begun. Its value would increase further if, for instance, the Sox jumped out to a big lead in the first inning.
This system applies to parlays, too, in which bettors wager on the combined outcome of multiple games. If first leg of a parlay comes through but you get cold feet on the second, you can redeem your ticket at its current value.
Linking the in-play and traditional betting markets together might prove to be the biggest innovation from the DraftKings team.
Regulators doing their part
A lot of what DraftKings plans to do hinges on the Division of Gaming Enforcement that regulates NJ sports betting.
We mentioned that the DraftKings apps all “speak” to each other to create a custom interface, but there’s more to it. User accounts are also shared across platforms, meaning that DFS customers won’t need to register for the sportsbook separately. Account balances are shared in some capacity, too, though the logistics aren’t yet clear.
According to Hannigan-Daley, DraftKings has worked closely with regulators and payment processors to make the implementation as seamless as possible. The DGE seems to share operators’ desire to offer the broadest-possible assortment of bet types, according to DK:
They’re fairly commercially savvy, so they know that if they don’t offer it and another state goes out with it — especially a bordering one — they’re going to start losing a bunch of users potentially.
Early on, it may not be the full offering we would like to present to sports fans, but eventually we’ll get to it.
DraftKings plans to book action on as many novelty events as regulators will allow, including things like the Grammy Awards and hot dog eating contests.
DraftKings vs. FanDuel: Round two
The two largest daily fantasy sports companies are carrying their long-standing duel into the sports betting arena.
DraftKings has two partnerships in place, one in NJ and another in New York. The former is a mobile-only deal, but the one across the Hudson is initially geared toward retail operations. Del Lago will host the first Draftkings-branded sportsbook if and when NY sports betting goes live.
FanDuel has been even more aggressive out of the gate, spurred by its acquisition by Paddy Power Betfair. The group also has deals in those two states, plus a pending WV sports betting partnership with The Greenbrier. A mobile FanDuel Sportsbook app is in development, too.
The first FanDuel retail sportsbook is open for business at Meadowlands Racetrack, but launch hasn’t been without its hiccups. Lines were too wide to be competitive on opening day, and a recent miscommunication about late-night payouts stirred up additional concerns from onlookers.
Hannigan-Daley said DraftKings is “well aware” of the issues and would avoid repeating those mistakes. “When we were evaluating potential partners,” he said, “one of the reasons why Kambi was very appealing is because they traded US sports to very strong price points for users.”
Here’s more of his context on the pricing you should expect:
We want to create a product that is awesome for sports fans. We want to get people off the books they might be using right now, because they’re bound to get ripped off in some capacity in a lot of cases. In order to do that, you have to have a competitive product.
We think that if we’re able to create a compelling user experience and offset that with strong prices, then we’ll be able to get the strong volume of bets that allows us to run at potentially lower margins than you see at retail.
DraftKings hired Sean Hurley as Head of Sportsbook earlier this year, and it’s seeking to raise $200 million to support this new venture.