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Who loves ya, DK?
Even Kojak would have struggled to sleuth out how and when DraftKings Sportsbook would enter the PA sports betting market. Rumors spanning months ranged from imminent potential partnerships to DraftKings passing on Pennsylvania entirely.
Penn National definitively ended speculation last week by announcing a 10-year deal with DraftKings Sportsbook among four other partnerships. The Meadows appears the likeliest destination for DraftKings, at least for its mobile app.
Meadows and DraftKings still need licensure from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) before a launch timeline can take shape. Both companies submitted applications, with Meadows including its $10 million application fee.
The next two PGCB meetings take place on August 14 and September 4. DraftKings Sportsbook likely could launch its mobile product shortly after approval.
If Meadows and DraftKings receive clearance on either date, they reasonably could launch either before or early in NFL and college football season. College football starts at the end of August and the NFL kicks off September 5.
The beginning of the lucrative football season presents ample motivation for DraftKings Sportsbook in PA. The established presence of its chief rival in the PA sports betting market represents an even stronger impetus.
FanDuel Sportsbook fired up its sports betting app in Pennsylvania in July. That will allow FanDuel a head start of at least a few weeks. That advantage magnifies when factoring in FanDuel features the only built-in Apple device compatibility at the moment.
After ceding the initial lead in NJ sports betting revenue to DraftKings last year, FanDuel stands atop neighboring New Jersey in 2019. Part of DraftKings’ advantage came from a nearly month-long jump on other NJ sports betting apps.
Allowing a similar runway for sports betting in PA to FanDuel could set DraftKings significantly behind. The battle for customer acquisition outweighs all in the US sports betting market. Along with SugarHouse Sportsbook, BetRivers, and Parx, FanDuel will have an opportunity to box out the competition in August.
Penn National also revealed last week deals with PointsBet, theScore, and The Stars Group (Fox Bet). Each partnership includes a state-by-state priority ranking of mobile skins (or brands.)
In any single-skin market, Penn National will want its branding on any mobile sports betting app. Pennsylvania is a single-skin state but Penn National owns Meadows and Hollywood in the Keystone State.
DraftKings Sportsbook owns first priority with Penn National for PA sports betting in the deal. Hollywood likely will retain Penn National-based branding while DraftKings puts its stamp on Meadows.
Pennsylvania set a record for its brief sports betting history with $46.3 million in handle in June. More than 40% of money wagered arrived via a mobile app.
That pales in comparison to more than 80% of money bet via mobile in New Jersey. In Pennsylvania, though, only SugarHouse was open for the entire month, and BetRivers and Parx were open for a week in June.
The arrival of FanDuel Sportsbook and the seemingly imminent launch of DraftKings Sportsbook should drive that 40% much higher for mobile sports betting in Pennsylvania by the end of 2019.