FanDuel Quickly Shows Its Casino Prowess, Just As With Its PA Online Sportsbook

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Could FanDuel dominate Pennsylvania’s mobile casino industry in the same manner it has led online sports betting since its debut?

Based on January’s revenue figures, it’s a distinct possibility.

The figures released by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board Wednesday showed that in just one week following its Jan. 24 launch, the FanDuel Casino generated $2.1 million in revenue.

Compare that to what was generated in a full month by the highest-grossing iCasinos: $3.6 million from PlaySugarHouse and $3.5 million from PokerStars. The latter had the benefit of getting most of its revenue by virtue of the state’s only online poker option.

And then consider this: In addition to being limited by just one week of operation, FanDuel started with a very modest menu of games — just 12 slots and five versions of blackjack and roulette — and it had no desktop play option to accompany its smartphone app.

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It all could add up to a powerful FanDuel interactive casino presence, similar to how its sports betting tied to the Valley Forge Casino Resort represents fully half of the Pennsylvania online sportsbook market.

The FanDuel brand is a powerful one

The strong start seems to justify a decision FanDuel made to use the same name as the sportsbook site for its casino brand in Pennsylvania, unlike New Jersey, where it operates under the company’s corporate BetFair brand.

The company had explained upon its Pennsylvania launch: “Given how well FanDuel Sportsbook has resonated with players in PA, we felt it was a natural product extension in PA to leverage the FanDuel brand to bring our online sportsbook players a more robust online gaming offering.”

FanDuel was not the only new iCasino site in Pennsylvania in January. BetAmerica launched on Jan. 24, and the BetRivers casino did so on Jan. 30 as a second skin of the PlaySugarHouse site of Rivers Philadelphia, but there was nothing in the numbers to suggest those will have anything like FanDuel’s success.

There are now eight different iCasino sites in Pennsylvania, and it would be no surprise when February’s numbers come out to see FanDuel well ahead of the rest.

Overall, online/mobile casinos, which only started operating in July in Pennsylvania, showed 31.1% revenue growth in January from the month before. The growth will keep coming in 2020, not just due to the three new sites in January but from others likely to launch or expand later this year.

Gaming revenue and taxes both soared in January

FanDuel’s strong start was one factor in a strong month overall for gaming in Pennsylvania, as the $302.8 million in revenue from all forms was up 16.9% from January 2019. It also marked a 3.4% increase from the industry’s $291.9 million in December 2019 revenue.

The revenue gain was largely from the growth of sports betting across the commonwealth, which was still in its infancy a year ago. Revenue from both online and retail sports betting amounted to $22.8 million.

Slots revenue was also up 5.8% from a year ago, but curiously, table games, which are considered more likely to get a reciprocal boost from involvement by sports bettors, declined 2.5%.

Another decline that might be a surprise was that of the PokerStars poker site, which slumped to $2.16 million in revenue after reaching $2.47 million in December. The early success of PokerStars in Pennsylvania, compared to New Jersey, since its November poker launch had been considered a good-news story for the future of online poker in Pennsylvania, with more sites likely to launch in coming months.

Also showing a decline was fantasy sports betting, with revenue of $2.1 million that was down 2.4% from January 2019 and off from $3.4 million in December, when fantasy football betting was in vogue.

The gaming board reported that the taxes going to state and local governments from all the forms of gambling put together amounted to $124.1 million in January.

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Gary Rotstein

Gary is a longtime journalist, having spent three decades covering gambling, state government, and other issues for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, in addition to stints as managing editor of the Bedford (Pa.) Gazette and as a reporter for United Press International and the Middletown (Conn.) Press. Contact Gary at [email protected].

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