Apparently, there’s just no keeping these two crazy kids apart. Seemingly perpetual rivals FanDuel and DraftKings are once again set to duke it out, this time in territory that’s unfamiliar to both – legalized sports betting.
Wednesday’s announcement that prominent European bookmaker Paddy Power Betfair (PPB) and FanDuel have completed a previously announced merger — one that leaves the former with an initial 61 percent ownership stake in the DFS company – could be considered the first official salvo in the ongoing war for supremacy in sports-based real-money gaming between FD and DK.
And the initial battle is set to unfold in New Jersey.
The first official FanDuel-branded sports betting product
One of the more intriguing aspects of recent developments is the confirmation that the sportsbook set to open at Meadowlands Racetrack on Saturday, July 14 will carry the FanDuel name. It’s part of a strategy in which PPB will utilize the FanDuel brand on all its U.S.-facing consumer platforms.
PPB and Meadowlands Racetrack had announced in May that they’d reached agreement to have the former’s North American subsidiary, Betfair US, run the track’s sportsbook, now officially dubbed the “FanDuel Sportsbook at the Meadowlands Racetrack.” That becomes a reality July 14 at 11 a.m. local time at the track’s Victory Sports Bar and Club.
Meadowlands owner Jeff Gural has confirmed that from Day 1, the sportsbook will offer:
- Ten teller windows (up from its pre-sports-betting number of four)
- MLB, golf, Wimbledon and World Cup matches in terms of wagering options.
- Futures bets that include NFL and NBA.
And naturally, come each major sport’s regular season, there will be a full array of wagering opportunities on those leagues’ respective games.
Incidentally, while next Wednesday, July 18 could mark the rollout of online sports betting in the Garden State, that date is still a bit too ambitious for the Meadowlands. Instead, Gural confirms, the track has set the upcoming NFL season as the target time frame for having that component in place.
Track poised for competitive advantage
And while anticipation is naturally quite high, Gural also noted that it’s difficult to prognosticate how something as momentous as the first day of a brand-new sportsbook will play out. An overflow crowd could be equal parts blessing and curse in a way, as the track owner worries it may turn some visitors off permanently.
However, the Meadowlands’ competitive advantage with respect to good old-fashioned supply and demand could well supersede any other factors. The track’s northern New Jersey location positions it as a lure for potential New York and Pennsylvania bettors, neither which have any legalized betting options within their respective states on the horizon.
Empire State residents remain shut out (except for the possibility of four upstate casinos potentially offering sports betting later this year under a 2013 provision) after New York lawmakers were unable to pass any sports betting legislation before their session expired in late June. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania has legalized the activity, but there have yet to be any sports betting applications filed with the state’s Gaming Control Board.
Acquisition allows FD to make up for plenty of lost time
In the big picture, PPB brings a wealth of experience and assets to the table in terms of sportsbook operation. That arguably makes up any ground that FanDuel had seemingly lost to DraftKings in recent months, when the latter seemed to be briskly advancing its sports betting initiatives.
DK made the following significant strides toward establishing a presence in the sports betting space since earlier this year:
- The company announced the hire of a Head of Sportsbook in late February.
- It subsequently launched an ad campaign touting its forthcoming sportsbook in New Jersey in May
- Following the SCOTUS decision to strike down PASPA, DK announced a deal with Resorts AC in early June to offer sports betting within the Garden State.
- The company inked a multi-year deal with respected European sports betting provider Kambi Group to power its sports betting platform in late June.
The press release touting PPB’s FanDuel acquisition reveals that the newly formed company will be legally named FanDuel Group. It joins a stable of brands under PPB that includes the season-long/daily fantasy hybrid site DRAFT, Betfair Casino and horse racing-focused TVG Network.
As per the publicly known terms of the agreement, PPB’s ownership stake is poised to grow to 80 percent after three years, and to 100 percent in the next five years overall. The European betting giant also contributed its existing US assets and $158 million in cash, part of which reportedly was used to pay down existing FanDuel debt.
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