The beginning of September welcomed the most obvious two headlines into the United States. The fervid pressure to discover a true vaccine and solution to fight Covid-19 plus the worsening ugly battle deciding who will become the next President of the US. Ironically, it seems both issues may not be settled and judged officially until sometime into 2021.
Another headline is taking shape rapidly in the sports wagering sector. An industry that has grown within the US beyond belief over the past few months since the resumption of play among the country’s major sports leagues. Who will capture the public’s imagination as the industry’s “thought of” third leading wagering source among the growing list of providers?
Beyond opinion on who is “best” within any category including customer service, lines, free bets, loyalty programs, etc., there is an unbiased and unchallenged answer who is currently ranked #1 and #2. That is by sheer volume and power within the sports wagering industry.
DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel have firmly established themselves at the top through corporate acquisitions, mergers, and public funding. It is hard to believe or at some time remember these two companies were only “daily fantasy wagering” entities only a few years ago. Yes, each company’s business is still entrenched in DFS but in terms of revenue share, it contributes more of an “appetizer” portion to the main menu that includes a full variety of sports wagering entrees, etc.
In researching the opinion of DraftKings Sportsbook vs FanDuel the results are split on who is “the better choice”. Both offer enticing motivation for new players to join and compete extensively upon current player promotions. Think of it as Coke vs Pepsi. There are always coupons and incentives for you to become their loyal drinker. It is just a matter of taste. DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel are currently tied at the top with availability in seven US states.
Since the beginning of the NFL and the NCAA college football season, it is possible both combined might be outspending Coke & Pepsi upon television advertising dollars. If you left your chair during a break for the game lately, you likely missed a DK or FD commercial. Wow.
Here is the MAJOR component for a sports bettor that differentiates them from Coke and Pepsi. When possible, as a smart sports bettor, it is NOT in your best interest to become the most loyal customer for either of these companies. In fact, it is not wise to become loyal to any single sports wagering outlet.
There is no cost to a bettor to wisely prepare their selections ahead of time and “shop” each book they belong to for the best wagering lines and opportunities. To think you might have lost or possibly pushed (tied) upon a game by being lazy and not investing your time is tough to digest.
The worst examples fall when game opportunities are at a minimum and players are isolating on perhaps only one or two wagering choices. For example, Sunday, Monday, or Thursday Night Football games. Or say a specific NBA playoff game. By being a free-to-join member of BOTH a FanDuel and DraftKings Sportsbook (again, if possible) allows you that opportunity. Of course, as the market grows within states, this will become more of a legitimate option. Currently, that situation is more available to those still utilizing offshore sportsbooks.
With warped speed, we are also seeing the entry of some new powerful forces into the US sports wagering landscape. As new states begin legislation to open sports wagering and open their doors to both onsite and online betting, the competition to join the market is intensifying. We are currently up to 18 states plus Washington DC enjoying the benefits of sports wagering with plans to have as many as 12 others join them sometime within the next year.
The big question is who will emerge as the next dominant force capturing the mythical crown as the thought of the “Number Three” player in the market. Or better still, join the debate with DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel among the top two spots. The following are the most logical candidates:
Rapidly rising and with certainly a major background of gaming experience behind them, BetMGM perhaps the most logical contender. They are currently available in four states including Indiana, West Virginia, Colorado, and New Jersey with plans for more. Their international association with GVC Holdings is a major plus for MGM Resorts. Overall, bettors will reap the benefits and it is likely they will advance toward being legal and licensed in every state possible over the next year.
Their only gray area is not being exactly a familiar name to US bettors but with plenty of experience and an excellent reputation for top service. BetRivers quickly has become known for one of the best loyalty programs available for sports bettors. Any user can sign up to be a part of their iRush Rewards program. Expanding rapidly and second only to DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel in number of states available including Pennsylvania, Colorado, Indiana, Illinois plus Michigan, and Iowa coming soon.
Naturally, they stand to benefit from Fox Bet relationship with the Fox News and Fox Sports Network. Lately, in both subtle and non-subtle ways, their marriage announcement has increased through programming like ESPN’s The Daily Wager, etc. The credible news is they are a solid sportsbook organization to the back-up competitive challenge to any other. The interface is clean and smooth, and virtually everything a bettor needs is just a click or a swipe away. Currently, FoxBet resides in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Colorado with no doubt more states to quickly come.
This is the most interesting player and perhaps a decent longshot to succeed for the third spot. An Australian-based company that made a successful debut in the US with great promotional offerings and important bettor-focused features including reduced juice on spread bets. PointsBet has a reputation for their unique features like fixed odds and innovative promotions for new customers. They also have begun aggressive TV ads in their markets with sports personalities including Allen Iverson and Darrelle Revis. Currently available in New Jersey, Iowa, Indiana and expanding new market Illinois.
No list would be complete without this international wagering giant. Especially since their most recent strategic partnership with media power CBS Sports. That giving them similar benefits like Fox Bet. CEO of William Hill US Joe Asher confirmed the company is in discussions with Caesars about combining their sports-betting and online-gaming businesses. Caesars already owns 20% of William Hill US under a deal with Eldorado Resorts, which took over Caesars in July. When the dust settles this could put them in position to compete with DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel for the top two positions.
PNG’s highly publicized partnership deal with popular Barstool Sports only heightens the competition. Their much-anticipated app opened with a record number of downloads in Pennsylvania. Like other top companies, PNG has a reputation for superior customer service and aggressive promotions for new signups. A domestic power in gaming, they were somewhat late getting involved in sports wagering and will utilize Barstool’s strong younger base to catch-up.
It would be impossible to predict a winner here with the US political climate in doubt toward new legislation for upcoming states to decide upon gambling to be potentially legalized.
The only certainties are when they do, anyone involved will be advertising heavily in the all-important quest to secure new signups. The less competition within a market, the better, therefore it is urgent to seize every opportunity possible.
The other best bet for that coveted third spot in the ranking (if not higher) will likely come from the previous group listed. Other strong gaming companies will also emerge with great experience to capture this new and extremely rewarding business opportunity. The good news. like Coke and Pepsi, plenty of other soft drinks have done very well vying for the third spot and even below that status.
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Larry Gibbs is both a seasoned journalist and a respected online gaming industry consultant. His wry commentary & sharp analysis have appeared in numerous top gaming and sports wagering publications. He has also served as Vice President of US Gaming Services, a marketing research organization with 15 years of experience in US online wagering. He has spoken at noted gaming industry conferences including G2E, GiGSE, and NCLGS.
Email: [email protected]
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