How FanDuel Sportsbook Is Becoming A Market Leader For PA Sports Betting

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Not even a year has passed since FanDuel Sportsbook launched in New Jersey.

Yet over the course of the last 11 months, the platform has firmly established itself as the legalized sports betting leader in the state. Despite heading into the business as a daily fantasy sports operator, FanDuel has become the go-to sports betting provider in the post-PASPA world, outgunning established bookmakers such as William Hill US and BetStars, among others.

Now, FanDuel has expanded its reach, extending operations into nearby Pennsylvania in late July. Although its debut in the Keystone State came nearly two months after SugarHouse Sportsbook (and nearly a month after the second and third betting apps hit the market), FanDuel possesses all the tools to replicate its New Jersey success in Pennsylvania.

From brand recognition to accessibility, from bettor-friendliness to industry experience, FanDuel will rise to PA sports betting power as it did in neighboring New Jersey.

FanDuel brings proven sports betting track record to Pennsylvania

While still young, FanDuel Sportsbook has amassed valuable industry experience since going live in New Jersey last September.

As in Pennsylvania, FanDuel was not the first to roll out a betting app in New Jersey. Or the second. Or the third. Yet it didn’t matter.

FanDuel was new to the wagering world. Yet it didn’t matter.

The sportsbook dug in its heels and began building a titan. FanDuel created its own platform using its own team, then took advantage of resources provided by owner Paddy Power Betfair and technology from renowned international gaming company IGT.

FanDuel Head of Product Nik Bonaddio told Legal Sports Report at the time that the company refused to simply “slap a logo” on a turnkey sportsbook. Rather, FanDuel aimed to create something unique.

“We were never going to do that. That’s not in our DNA … we really wanted to make this a much more native experience.”

FanDuel unveiled its first sportsbook nearly a year ago, complete with a wide range of sports, props and in-play markets. Chief rival DraftKings Sportsbook owned the New Jersey sports betting landscape through the end of 2018. FanDuel, though, just needed time.

By February 2019, after five months of getting the lay of the land, an experienced FanDuel emerged. It stood as the top revenue earner in New Jersey, a title it has yet to cede. In the new age of legalized sports betting, in less than a year, FanDuel — the new kid on the block — established itself as a power.

Its resume and success sparkled. It still does. And FanDuel, as spokesman Kevin Hennessy said in June, will rely on that experience in Pennsylvania.

“Having a well known and trusted brand in Pennsylvania will be a big key to our success. It gives FanDuel a great opportunity to build our customer base and continue to deliver another quality product to our customers in PA.”

Proximity allows FanDuel to capture much of Northeast

The Mid-Atlantic region belongs to FanDuel. The company ensured that by expanding into Pennsylvania while also reaching into New York by way of a retail sportsbook at Rivers Casino & Resort in Schenectady.

If FanDuel elected to open up shop, say, in Oregon as opposed to Pennsylvania, surely many would still believe it would thrive. Yet an added bonus comes with simply crossing the Delaware River. From Hennessy:

“This time around we are a little more ahead of the game in terms of dates, prep, and knowledge. Even though NJ and PA are not identical, they are close in proximity and that allows us to take some data and optimize based on results. At this point, we have a better understanding of what our customers want or do not want to see.”

When solely operational in New Jersey, FanDuel (and many of its competitors) saw an uptick in out-of-state customers. In late 2018, Pennsylvania residents comprised some 3% of all FanDuel customers, according to the company. Surely that number grew as the months went by.

Geolocation provider GeoComply indicated that about 80% of all geolocation hits in New Jersey came within 10 miles of the state border. And roughly 44% of users popped up within 2 miles. Certainly, many of those hits were by out-of-staters.

By moving into Pennsylvania, FanDuel firmly captures those bettors near the New Jersey state line. It also allows becomes more accessible to current and potential customers well past the border.

Sports betting success stems from familiarity

Obviously knowing a product is key for customers.

Even for users who have yet to dive into the sports betting waters, brand familiarity plays a role.

Surely the majority of the public (especially those keen to sports) has heard the name “FanDuel.” Perhaps, one could argue, they know that brand more than that of a casino.

When shopping, consumers flock to the names they know. Why purchase the generic-brand, knock-off Honey Circles when you can get a box of Honey Nut Cheerios?

FanDuel’s rise to sports betting prominence helps in its quest for mass familiarity. The company frequently finds its name in headlines lauding its dominance in New Jersey, shining light on its seasonal promotions, highlighting its choice to pay back customers on bad beats, among many others.

Speaking of …

FanDuel is a brand that cares

FanDuel is all about enhancing the customer experience. It looks to have the casual bettor returning again and again.

As a way to accomplish this, FanDuel has shown a forgiving side, one that very well could be a reason the sportsbook is so popular among users.

Consider the season-ending injury to Kevin Durant in the NBA Finals, derailing the Golden State Warriors‘ chances at another league championship. Following that Game 5 incident, FanDuel announced it was “doing the right thing” by refunding all player props from that game involving Durant.

Recall, too, when the Alliance of American Football folded prematurely. No championship game would be played, but FanDuel crowned the Orlando Apollos, with the best record, the AAF champion. As a result, the sportsbook paid out all straight futures bets – on ANY team to win the title.

FanDuel forgiveness happened again and again, from the sportsbook paying pack moneyline bets on the St. Louis Blues during a controversial Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final to awarding site credit to customers who bet on the Chicago Bears to beat the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFL playoffs, only to see a “double-doink” kick spoil their tickets.

As FanDuel CMO Mike Raffensperger said in a release following the sportsbook’s foray into PA:

“We became the No. 1 sports betting operator in New Jersey by focusing on the customer experience, and we can’t wait for sports fans in Pennsylvania to join the party.”

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FanDuel availability also a plus

Accessibility, as noted, is vital for a business to thrive. FanDuel has ensured it is reaching as many users as possible, including Apple customers.

New Apple guidelines made it more difficult for real-money gambling operators to submit their products to the App Store. GeoComply provided a temporary solution, allowing SugarHouse and BetRivers to reach Apple users.

FanDuel, though, was the first to have its Pennsylvania sportsbook in the App Store, as the company integrated its PA offerings with the existing FanDuel Sportsbook app that served New Jersey customers.

What’s more, FanDuel created a shared wallet. Pennsylvania customers who traveled to New Jersey to use the sportsbook did not have to create a new account in order to access FanDuel’s PA sportsbook. The transition became seamless.

A Pennsylvania competitor, Parx, has since submitted a sportsbook to the app store. But that does not take away from what FanDuel accomplished.

The sportsbook broke the mold in New Jersey, raking in over $60 million in revenue since hitting the online market last fall. It has led the way for an industry that sees nearly 83% of all bets made online.

Now, FanDuel has taken its show on the road. It has arrived in Pennsylvania, and it has the tools to quickly become the PA sports betting leader.

Grant Lucas

About

Grant Lucas is a longtime sports writer who has covered the high school, collegiate and professional levels. A graduate of Linfield College in McMinnville, Grant has covered games and written features and columns surrounding prep sports, Linfield and Oregon State athletics, the Portland Trail Blazers and golf throughout his career.

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