Valley Forge is home to one of the smaller casinos in the state, but due to a budding partnership with DFS (and now sports betting) giant FanDuel, it will play an outsize role in the sports betting market.
The approval means that all four casinos located near the Philadelphia area (Parx Casino, SugarHouse Casino, and Harrah’s Philadelphia being the others) will be operating their own sportsbooks, giving the city’s hordes of sports-lovers ample choice of venues to place their bets. Through its partnership with FanDuel though, Valley Forge has an ace up its sleeve. The daily fantasy brand is widely known in the state, and the company already operates one of the top online sportsbooks in New Jersey.
With Valley Forge’s land-based sportsbook officially open, let’s take a look at what bettors can find in the lounge and expect from the forthcoming Internet-based/mobile product.
|Online launch||Expected Q2 2019|
|Online partners||FanDuel Group|
|License||Approved Dec. 2018|
|Land-based book||Launched March 13, 2019|
Welcome package at FanDuel sportsbook
While FanDuel offers a handful of rolling promotions (e.g. Heartbreak Insurance and Daily Odds Boosts), one of the best deals available is reserved for new players.
After signing up an account, patrons are awarded a $500 risk-free bet as part of a welcome package and enticement to continue playing on the site.
It works like this: Gamblers make a deposit and then place a bet of up to $500 (there are some restrictions involving bet types and lines, so read the fine print).
If the bet is a winner, fantastic, the player takes home their winnings. If the wager is lost, the patron is refunded the entire amount of the bet as an on-site credit. From here, players can’t withdraw the bonus money right away, they must first complete a simple 1x playthrough requirement. Once completed, the bonus funds can be withdrawn.
Expect a similar bonus package when Valley Forge online sportsbook goes live in PA.
What advantages will Valley Forge’s sportsbook have?
- Marketing genius: Valley Forge may not be as well-known as its competitors, but the marketing wizards at FanDuel’s parent company are more than qualified to raise its profile. Paddy Power Betfair is known, and even infamous, for its creative marketing, which never fails to generate buzz. As an example, in late 2018 FanDuel Sportsbook NJ made headlines for paying out all bets on Alabama to win the National Championship — before the game had even been played. Alabama would go on to lose to Clemson in the title game, resulting in a big win for players. Expect similar ploys like this in PA.
- Brand recognition: You’d be hard-pressed to find a U.S. sports fan that hasn’t heard of FanDuel. Years ago, during the company’s war with chief rival DraftKings, it was nearly impossible to watch TV or listen to the radio without hearing one of the company’s ads. While annoying to many, the marketing blitz had the desired effect of making the company brand name ubiquitous in the country. It also put the firm in an excellent position to capture potential sports bettors. Valley Forge will capitalize on the brand by displaying it whenever they can, and customers will surely follow.
- Real-world success: Optimism about FanDuel’s success in PA isn’t just fantasy, it’s already playing out in New Jersey. In the Garden State, the company handles sportsbook operations for The Meadowlands racetrack, and has launched its own online website and mobile app. Both the racetrack and online product are top revenue-earners in that market.
- Rock-solid software: FanDuel’s sportsbooks are comprised of software made by industry veterans Paddy Power Betfair, IGT and GAN. In our opinion, FanDuel’s online offering in the Garden State, with its mix of competitive pricing, clean user interface, and betting options, towers above the competition.
Valley Forge’s land-based sportsbook
In a December PGCB meeting, reps from the two companies showcased plans for the up-and-coming brick-and-mortar book. Renderings revealed that the initial sportsbook intended to encompass 1,800 square feet and feature the following:
- Seven teller windows
- Six self-service terminals
- Seating for 30
- 20 staff members at peak hours
At launch the space also includes:
- 29 video displays (both televisions and odds screens)
- 2 sports tickers
It was unclear if this configuration would simply be a part of a temporary book, or a permanent one. Either way fans are now able to place bets at the venue, which was completed quickly enough to get up and running in time for March Madness 2019.
The physical space very prominently displays FanDuel’s branding everywhere, and boasts the same visual scheme as the FanDuel space at the Meadowlands in New Jersey: cool blue tones and natural wood aesthetic. Of course the two facilities are entirely different, the NJ space is much bigger (5,300 square feet, with room for 500 patrons, 15 sports betting windows, and over 60 TVs).
The PA sportsbook, in contrast, is not only smaller but is also situated in one of several nearby casinos, as opposed to a geographically isolated racetrack. Still, FanDuel reported being very pleased with the initial amount of overflow traffic from casino patrons.
Online/mobile sports betting at Valley Forge
Online sportsbook features
Online and mobile wagering is FanDuel’s bread and butter, which it has been refining since mid-2018 in New Jersey.
Company execs are not certain when online/mobile betting will commence in PA, but are hoping to launch in the first half of 2019. The swift opening of the physical space has bolstered this goal.
FanDuel’s sportsbook app in NJ has been hailed as one of the best in the industry. The app is made up of a number of technologies, each of which plays a vital role in creating an engaging betting experience. It’s put together like this:
- FanDuel’s in-house designers are responsible for the front-end presentation of the app.
- The core platform is provided by IGT, a well-known gaming software maker.
- The player account management system is powered by GAN, which also plays a role in the online casinos of Betfair Casino and Ocean Casino in NJ.
One difference we will see with FanDuel’s online presence and mobile app will be the inclusion of an extremely conspicuous Valley Forge logo. Ideally, the casino would have promoted the FanDuel brand, due to its ubiquitous name recognition. However, regulators proclaimed that online and mobile sports betting apps must prominently display the name of their land-based casino partner.
At present, New Jersey players can bet on the following sports at FanDuel NJ:
- American Football
Types of bets
FanDuel will offer the same options betting options as in NJ:
- Standard moneyline, point spread, Over/Under, and prop bets
- Multiple kinds of parlays, including teasers and Round Robins
- Live in-play wagers, including half and quarter bets
- Cash out early
- Old school fantasy style, FanDuel’s bread-and-butter until last year
No matter what your banking situation, FanDuel makes it easy to deposit and withdraw. Here are a few options which may be available for funding your account in PA:
- Credit/debit cards
- ACH (eCheck)
- Paper checks
- Online banking transfer
- FanDuel prepaid card
How Valley Forge sports betting came together
Valley Forge was late to the party when it came to sports betting, but due to it being acquired by Boyd Gaming, it was pretty obvious that the casino was going to get involved.
In July, Boyd announced a partnership with MGM Resorts, which will expand the reach of both companies to better take advantage of sports betting and online gambling opportunities in the U.S.
Boyd later announced a somewhat similar pact with FanDuel, the DFS giant which has quickly transitioned into a big sports wagering player.
With the pieces of the puzzle in place, Valley Forge finally announced it was purchasing a PA sports betting license, and would use technology provided by IGT, GAN, and FanDuel, while prominently featuring FanDuel branding across live and online verticals.
The Category 3 property submitted an application to offer online and live sports wagering in November 2018, plunking down the required $10 million fee along with it. During the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board’s (PGCB) final meeting of 2018, the King of Prussia casino revealed more details of its sports betting plans and was subsequently approved to offer the vertical.
Valley Forge received conditional approval for its sportsbook on December 19, 2018 and has opened a temporary brick-and-mortar space in March of 2019 (FanDuel in turn received its own required conditional approval in early March 2019) and has expressed hope to launch online during the summer.
The Valley Forge-FanDuel connection stems from the sale of the casino to Boyd Gaming, one of the country’s largest casino entertainment conglomerates. Boyd, which finalized the acquisition in December, had previously announced a strategic partnership with MGM, and later inked another with FanDuel’s parent company. The alliances will allow Boyd and MGM properties to open brick-and-mortar and online sportsbooks quickly, under the umbrella of their respective licenses.
Valley Forge sportsbook outlook
Before being acquired by Boyd Gaming and linking up with FanDuel, Valley Forge faced a few problems in jumping into the sports betting market. First of all, the on-property casino is much smaller and less well-known than its regional competitors, something which would leave it at a clear disadvantage in both the brick-and-mortar and online space. After all, why would PA gamblers choose to bet on a Valley Forge app over more recognizable casinos like Rivers and Parx?
But with its relationship with FanDuel, Valley Forge has the potential to become a major player in the industry. FanDuel has already become a dominant force in New Jersey’s nascent sports betting market, playing second fiddle only to DraftKings in terms of revenue.
While the Valley Forge name may not carry much cachet, the FanDuel brand will certainly attract attention. Unfortunately, the app’s upside might be a bit capped, due to it having to prominently feature Valley Forge branding. Better, would have been the luxury to just brand the online sports betting site as FanDuel Sportsbook, but that’s not allowed under Pennslyvania iGaming regulations.
That said, FanDuel’s parent company, Paddy Power Betfair, is extremely skilled at generating press through creative promos and ad campaigns. The firm will no doubt devise unique ways in which to promote and raise Valley Forge’s profile and profits.
Backed by such monied and experienced partners, we think that Valley Forge could punch above its weight in the market and become a leader in the arena, despite its small size.
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