For the first time since NY online sports betting launched last January, DraftKings accepted more sports bets than FanDuel in a month. Is this a sign that the power structure is switching between the two rivals in the largest market in the United States?
In June, DraftKings NY reported a total handle of $488.5 million, according to the New York State Gaming Commission. FanDuel NY came in at $418.1 million, a deficit of more than $70 million. By contrast, in the first five months of 2023, through May, FanDuel averaged a margin of $116.7 million per month over DraftKings in total wagers accepted in New York.
So, what happened in June?
To understand why DraftKings halted FanDuel’s 17-month stay at the top of the sports betting market in New York, we dove into the numbers.
Did DraftKings spend its way past FanDuel in NY?
Something very odd happened in June. While every one of its competitors saw total handle drop from May, DraftKings had an unprecedented spike.
DraftKings saw its total handle rise 3.6% from May to June this year. In 2022, DraftKings total handle slipped 14% for the same period. By comparison, FanDuel saw a 26% drop in total handle from May to June in 2023. Last year, that drop was only 15%.
How did DraftKings go from $471.1 million in total handle in May ’23 to $488.5 million in June, when every other sportsbook in the state of New York saw a typical summer dip in the 12-20% range?
New York does not release dollar figures for promotional spending, so we can’t be sure of this. However, it’s possible that DraftKings outspent its competitors in June.
More than one sportsbook has expressed a distaste for the cost of doing business in New York, and some have admitted to reducing promotional spending. Sportsbooks frequently spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on promotions to entice new customers.
In June, DraftKings was offering three generous NY sports betting promos:
- A $50 Bonus Bet simply for registering a new account
- A 20% Deposit Match Up to $1,000
- Up To $1,200 in Betting Credits if your First Bet Lost
Most of its competitors were not offering a deposit match, which is an attractive first-time user promotion. If a new customer of DraftKings deposited $1,000, they would receive $200 in bonus betting funds. In June, new DraftKings users in New York could have received as much as $2,250 in bonuses, all without a promotional code.
The flip side of the coin is that FanDuel could have chosen to scale back promo play in June. There is no indication that it did, but it’s possible.
FanDuel outpaced DraftKings in net revenue
Despite suffering a second-place finish in June handle, FanDuel reported higher monthly net revenue than DraftKings. FanDuel NY had $23.1 million in net revenue, while DraftKings NY reported $18.1 million.
FanDuel has outpaced its rival in net revenue every month since March of 2022. Only in the partial month of January 2022 and February of 2022, has DraftKings earned more net revenue than FanDuel in New York from online sports betting activity.
Indeed, FanDuel has been far more efficient than DraftKings in running its sportsbook in New York. Since the market launched in Jan. 2022, FanDuel has reported $519.1 million in net revenue, while DraftKings lags far behind in second place at $298.5 million. That fact lends one to believe that June was just a hiccup for FanDuel, and they will be back on top (based on total handle as well as revenue) again soon.
Forecasting the NFL season and sports betting in New York
Entering June, it would have been straightforward to forecast the way sports betting numbers would go in the fall for New York. FanDuel had been the unquestioned #1 sportsbook in the Empire State, and nothing could be seen to change for the immensely popular football season.
But it’s difficult to predict how the two big sportsbooks will perform with NFL betting in New York.
Last year, the football season helped cause a 64% increase in total handle among online sportsbooks from August to September. There’s no reason to expect that to be different in 2023. Which means DraftKings, FanDuel, and the sports betting operators chasing them, will earn more profits and pay more taxes in the fall.