DraftKings has joined Pennsylvania’s online sports betting opportunities, and now the question is whether it can dethrone FanDuel and emerge as king of the commonwealth.
At 4 p.m. Monday, the Boston-based company that leads Pennsylvania in daily fantasy sports revenue began a three-day soft launch of its sports betting online site and app, which are similar to what it has been providing in New Jersey, West Virginia, and Indiana.
Those 21 and over within Pennsylvania’s boundaries who set up a DraftKings account will be able to place sports wagers until midnight Monday; from 2 p.m. to midnight Tuesday; and noon to midnight Wednesday. Those are the hours of a mandatory test period monitored by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. Presumably, full-time operations will be permitted to begin Thursday.
As in the three prior states, DraftKings has loaded multiple incentives to attract Pennsylvanians to join using their Apple and Android phones or computer devices. Those already playing daily fantasy sports in Pennsylvania through DraftKings will be able to link their accounts.
$25 in free bets and 20% deposit match offered
The sports wagering enticements include five free $5 bets that can be made on anything by Dec. 31 and a 20% deposit match, up to a maximum of $500 for those depositing $2,500. The match is dependent upon wagers being placed by Dec. 31, with $1 of the matching money transferred into the player’s account for each $25 that is wagered.
Apparently, DraftKings is not offering the same $200 risk-free bet for new signups as has been the case in other states. Instead, it has certain smaller offers intended to appeal to Pennsylvania sports fans.
It is offering a credit up to $25 for any losing bet placed at that minimum amount on the money line for Penn State or Pitt to win an upcoming game in November.
It also has the “Steel City Scoring Special,” on which a $25 money line bet on the Steelers (+160) vs. the Los Angeles Rams this Sunday will earn $6 in future credits for each touchdown the Steelers score.
In addition, there are some special promotions similar to what’s currently offered in other states; those include a $25 credit if you place a moneyline bet for at least that amount on an NFL team that loses but scores at least 24 points, and a credit up to $25 if you hit all but one leg of a parlay with at least five legs.
There are also special offers for signing up friends as new players.
Customer accounts can be created using funds from credit cards, debit cards, bank transfers and payment services such as Paypal.
DraftKings is connected, technically, to Meadows
DraftKings is able to operate in Pennsylvania through its partnership with the Meadows Racetrack & Casino, owned by Penn National Gaming. DraftKings is not involved in the Meadows retail sportsbook, which opened a month ago using odds from Kambi, but DraftKings signed a deal with Penn National to serve as an online sportsbook operator for it in seven different states. That is dependent on additional states legalizing mobile wagering as Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia, and Indiana have done.
The DraftKings online site is the sixth to launch in Pennsylvania, and Unibet is also expected to arrive this month. The five sports betting sites that existed in September combined for $158.1 mm of the state’s total $194.5 mm handle, with the latter number also including what the retail sportsbooks generated.
FanDuel, partnering with the Valley Forge Casino Resort, was far and away the online leader, taking $85.1 mm in bets in September. DraftKings is expected to be a major challenger for it, considering it has been No. 2 to FanDuel in New Jersey sports betting and in fact leads FanDuel in Pennsylvania fantasy sports revenue. DraftKings has a challenge, however, in following FanDuel into the Pennsylvania digital sportsbook market, whereas it preceded FanDuel in New Jersey.
Adding DraftKings and Unibet, which has yet to announce a date for its anticipated November launch, will also bring Pennsylvania closer in sports betting volume to numbers posted by New Jersey. That neighboring state started online sports wagering a year before Pennsylvania and had a handle more than twice as high as it in September, with more than three times as many online sites operating as in Pennsylvania.