FanDuel’s reliance on sports bettors to cross over and propel profits on its new Pennsylvania online casino proved a winning strategy in early 2020.
In March, though, it was as if Tom Brady had someone take the air out of that ball. When traditional sporting events were erased from the calendar for nearly two-thirds of the month, FanDuel’s iCasino suffered collateral damage.
It was the only one of seven iCasinos in Pennsylvania to garner less play in March than February, according to monthly revenue figures released Thursday by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. (There are actually eight sites, but the PGCB counts Play Sugarhouse and BetRivers as one, as both are under the Rivers Philadelphia casino license.)
Overall, online casino gaming was up one-fourth
A 24.5% monthly increase statewide in combined online/mobile slots, table games, and poker play was the silver lining in the first financial report from the state since the casino industry was shut down in mid-March.
Overall gaming revenue of $153.5 million in the state last month was down 49.6% from February and 51.5% from a record high in March 2019, before any online wagering existed in Pennsylvania.
But the iCasinos combined for a new high of $24.3 million in monthly revenue to help mitigate the COVID-19 damage. The operators quickly found that new and existing customers were turning to online games on their computers and phones after they lost access to the 12 brick-and-mortar casinos and needed some form of entertainment at home.
With a huge spike in play on the state’s only legal poker site, for instance, PokerStars experienced an 85% monthly increase in overall online casino revenue to nearly $6 million.
The two Rivers Casino-affiliated sites combined to surge 42.1% from February and reach $6.8 million in revenue.
The two other main iCasino sites, belonging to Parx and Hollywood Casino, increased by 16% and 13.1%, respectively.
But FanDuel, a partner of Valley Forge Casino Resort, fell by 17.9% in revenue from its smartphone casino play, while still lacking desktop availability. It slipped from more than $6 million in February revenue to just shy of $5 million in March.
That dropoff came at the same time FanDuel’s sports betting site fell 61.2% in betting handle from February to March, slightly more than the statewide plunge of 59.8% among nine online sportsbooks.
Will bigger menu help FanDuel do better in April?
When FanDuel rocketed to the top of the leaderboard among Pennsylvania iCasinos after a late-January launch, it clearly stemmed from ability to attract its vast staple of sports bettors to try online casino games, especially blackjack, using the same app.
FanDuel remains the biggest sportsbook by far in the state, representing 45.4% of the online handle in March, but that helps its iCasino less when so few sporting events of any significance are taking place. It lost a lot of traffic to its site from those who would have bet on late-March basketball, hockey, and baseball.
It also doesn’t help FanDuel that it still lacks desktop play and has the smallest menu of iCasino offerings among the eight sites, although it has bolstered that roster in April. It added nine slot titles for a total of 21, plus new baccarat and Game King video poker to supplement two blackjack and three roulette options. Unlike other iCasino operators, FanDuel gets most of its revenue from table games, since those have more appeal than slots to crossover sports bettors.
While its site has limits compared to others, they were clearly no hindrance to the FanDuel iCasino in January and February. But until something resembling a normal sports lineup returns — which clearly won’t be for months — it apparently will face a challenge matching its competitors.
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