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On the surface, the DraftKings Sportsbook launch in WV sports betting is just one of many before football season.
Slightly deeper, though, is significance having nothing to do with a new mobile sports betting app in West Virginia.
DraftKings Sportsbook lands in the WV sports betting universe as the second platform in the state behind FanDuel Sportsbook. More important than that chronology, though, is DraftKings’ first mobile launch outside New Jersey.
That fact matters little to West Virginia bettors hoping for convenient sports betting options. Before this month, Mountaineers last enjoyed a mobile wagering option in March with the BetLucky app.
That app abruptly shut down amid a complicated dispute among three companies involved in creating and marketing the technology. Legal troubles and regulatory slowdowns left WV sports betting with only remote retail sportsbooks through the summer.
The siren’s call of NFL and college football helped thaw the tundra, though, bringing two market leaders to the Mountain State. DraftKings Sportsbook launched Wednesday via its land-based partner Hollywood Casino at Charles Town.
The usual disclaimer applies to what follows: this is the infancy of the US sports betting market and much will change. Many European operators took a cautious approach to the market and will push into the US later this year and into 2020.
That said, WV sports betting will provide the first true head-to-head competition between DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook. No other operators appear ready to launch before football kicks off in West Virginia, so it’s a two-app race for now.
DraftKings sprinted to an early lead in NJ sports betting in 2018, the only other comparison point we have for the companies in their sports betting incarnation. FanDuel dominates the New Jersey market in 2019, routinely posting more than 50% of the state’s revenue.
New Jersey features more than a dozen sports betting apps, although few own notable market share. How will the DFS darlings perform when pitted only with each other in WV sports betting?
The answer might ultimately prove little more than a curiosity in the long term. For now, though, seeing if the NJ results represent the start of a trend or the beginning of a battle will be quite interesting.