FanDuel Sportsbook has a huge lead in NJ sports betting
Legal Sports Report

Our View: Why FanDuel Sportsbook Will Dominate Pennsylvania Like It Did New Jersey

FanDuel Sportsbook PA

If you’re running an online sports betting app in Pennsylvania or planning to start one, you’re hoping to avoid history repeating itself.

Unless you’re FanDuel Sportsbook, of course.

FanDuel accounts for a huge percentage of the total revenue and wagers in the New Jersey sports betting industry in its first year — around 50% of all retail and online sports wagering in the state.

And there’s a good case it can replicate at least a measure of that success in PA. Why? Here’s a look at some of why its PA competitors should be paying attention.

The FanDuel brand is bigger than state lines

At least part of FanDuel’s success with its NJ sports betting app comes from its work from years before. FanDuel is a trusted brand for daily fantasy sports, and that has translated over to sports betting.

That brand — in part because of its retail sportsbook near New York City — has taken off in the past year. While DraftKings was the bigger and more popular brand for DFS, that trend has been flipped in the early days of online US sports betting. Here’s a Google Trends chart to show FanDuel’s search popularity in the US:

Now let’s look at FanDuel vs. SugarHouse Sportsbookthe top brand in the early days of PA online sports betting. (Note that any of these search metrics aren’t perfect; it’s not the only way people search to get to SugarHouse for sports betting.)

Here’s the Google Trends graph, but just for PA:

When it launched first, SugarHouse obviously had the lead. But in the early days of FanDuel going live, it quickly surged ahead. Even just in Philadelphia, where SugarHouse is based, the split for search is about 50-50.

You can repeat this exercise and find similar results for Parx Casino‘s sportsbook, which launched earlier and then faded next to interest in FanDuel.

The question, of course, is if FanDuel will maintain this advantage in PA against strong regional casino brands. It’s already aggressively marketing in the state in addition to its widespread brand recognition; Parx and SugarHouse are stronger as just regional brands in the Philly area.

The DFS database

FanDuel’s years of operation in DFS created a database of players that has proven to be quite valuable. In fact, it’s given both it and DraftKings a head start in NJ that has been hard for anyone to overcome in the first year.

Casinos in PA have extensive databases of bettors and past visitors. But are their databases as valuable for creating a potential sports bettor? Almost certainly not.

Until someone proves FanDuel (and/or DraftKings) otherwise, its database is better than a casino’s database. Or it’s at least leveraging its database more effectively.

Early returns for FanDuel Sportsbook PA look good

We have an extremely small sample size of what the PA sports betting market will look like with FanDuel in it — just nine days of operation in the July numbers Pennsylvania just released. But it paints quite a picture.

In that limited timeframe, FanDuel Sportsbook PA generated more than $3.3 million in wagers. That’s just a few hundred thousand dollars behind what Parx did in an entire month of operation.

Part of the reason is because of how easily accessible FanDuel is:

  • If you already had the app in New Jersey, you use the same app in Pennsylvania. That’s a pretty big advantage, especially for folks already in the Philly area that were betting at FanDuel.
  • The app was available right away in the App Store, something none of the other PA sportsbook apps accomplished upon launch. (Parx solved that problem recently, but after launch.)
  • You can use PayPal to fund your account, another advantage over some of the other sportsbooks.

Why FanDuel Sportsbook PA might not perform as well

Not absolutely everything is stacked in FanDuel’s favor in Pennsylvania.

  • Its physical presence near New York City is not the same as its sportsbook in Valley Forge, well outside of Philly. Its brand being close to NYC has certainly helped in NJ, and it won’t enjoy that in PA.
  • Cross-sell between the Betfair online casino in NJ and FanDuel Sportsbook has been brisk. No online casino is live in PA related to FanDuel via Valley Forge yet.

Still, there are far more positives in handicapping how FanDuel will do in the PA market than negatives. And it’s a fair guess that a year from now, FanDuel could be dominating PA like it does NJ.

Dustin Gouker
- Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer -- including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner.
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