Thursday was a busy day in New Jersey.
Things kicked off with the state’s legal sports betting bill sailing through both the Assembly and the Senate in 73-0 and 37-0 votes, respectively. Now, the bill only needs Gov. Murphy’s signature in order to be passed into law. Murphy, who supports legal sports betting, could sign at any time, but his office has suggested he may wait until June 30.
Mere hours later, news of another New Jersey sports betting partnership – a topic that dominated the preamble to the bill passage – hit the airwaves. Betfair US, an arm of sports betting giant Paddy Power Betfair, announced agreements with Meadowlands Racetrack in New Jersey and Tioga Downs in New York.
The landmark deal
While the sports betting bill passage news is certainly bigger in scale, it was widely expected. The new sports betting partnership between Betfair US and an operator who is licensed in both New Jersey and New York was a more surprising finish to the day.
Under the stipulations of the landmark deal, Betfair US will provide industry-leading sports betting products to Meadowlands and Tioga Downs customers. Of the deal, Kip Levin, CEO of Betfair US, said:
“We could not be more excited to partner with Jeff Gural and his partners for sports betting in New Jersey and New York. Combining these premier facilities with the global sports betting prowess of Paddy Power Betfair is a great match and will enable us to bring an unparalleled sports betting experience to customers in the northeast.”
With New Jersey set to legalize sports betting with the flick of a pen and New York nowhere near that close, all the focus of this deal will be Meadowlands Racetrack, at least in the short term. Given its location less than 10 miles from the heart of Manhattan, Meadowlands is perfectly situated to satiate hungry sports bettors in both New Jersey and New York.
Paddy Power Betfair, FanDuel and New Jersey
The first question that jumps to mind a day after the news is how will Paddy Power Betfair’s recent acquisition of FanDuel, which is still pending finalization, impact the sports betting products they provide in deals like this. It appears we have a quick answer to that question, as a report indicates that according to Levin, the Meadowlands’ offering will be a FanDuel branded sportsbook. If all goes well, the plan is for Meadowlands to have sports betting up and running sometime this summer, and fully operational by NFL season.
In light of Paddy Power Betfair’s plan to position FanDuel as its sportsbetting brand in the US, a second thing on everybody’s mind is what happens to the existing partnership with the Golden Nugget, through which Betfair already runs an online casino in New Jersey. The immediate assumption was that a Betfair branded sportsbook would likely use the Golden Nugget license partnership, but it appears things have changed in a big way.
To me, it seems like a battleground of sorts is forming, and the foes are very familiar with each other. With FanDuel now backed by a sports betting giant, and DraftKings clearly gearing up for a bigtime sports betting presence in New Jersey, a second phase of the DK vs. FD war could be coming.
The sports betting marketing is undoubtedly big enough to support lots of competition, but it’s interesting that these two DFS kings are at the forefront of all the jockeying for position in the New Jersey sports betting market. It could hinge not only on the companies vast databases of customers primed for sports betting, but also their ability to create and support new and exciting DFS-sports betting hybrid products. In his recent article for The Athletic (paywall), Dan Barbarisi gleaned some interesting insights from RotoGrinders’ CEO Cal Spears:
“Say, on a Sunday, you make 15 different NFL bets, but you make them against 100,000 other people,” Spears said. “Sort of like a parlay, but against others. If you pick the Patriots (as a 7-point favorite), you hit for 1 point, but if you pick their opponent (as a 7-point underdog) you get 7 points. Then add up all the points. That’s a really complicated thing to do, because you have 100,000 concurrent users hitting your server, making teams, hitting your database – but (DraftKings and FanDuel) are already set up to do that. I think they might have an edge running different formats that other people would struggle to justify even writing the first line of code for.”
As evidenced by FanDuel’s big sale, and the fact that Kindred has been kicking the tires on DraftKings, the sports betting industry places high value on DFS companies – for more than just their customer base.
Exciting times in New Jersey point to success for sports betting
As the title of the article suggests, Paddy Power Betfair, one of the world’s leading sports betting companies, is putting a ton of faith in New Jersey’s ability to adopt, and run with, legal sports betting. To me, a company that big isn’t wrong about something like this too often, so I’m extremely bullish and excited about the future of sports betting in New Jersey and the rest of the US.