How DraftKings Rocketed Up The Ranks In Pennsylvania Sports Betting

Written By Katie Kohler on February 27, 2020 - Last Updated on November 18, 2021
DraftKings has climbed the ranks quickly in PA sports betting

FanDuel staked its claim as the top online sports betting operator in Pennsylvania in August and, since then, has only widened its lead. Newcomers entered the fray before football season, but none could cut into FanDuel’s strong market foothold.

Yet to threaten FanDuel’s dominance in Pennsylvania, DraftKings Sportsbook is doing something that other operators are not. It’s not making noise.

DraftKings launched its only sportsbook in early November when NFL and college football seasons were already in progress. However, the online app had the benefit of a strong customer base from fantasy sports and name recognition. Within two months, DraftKings was taking the second-most bets in the state.

A strong start in Pennsylvania

DraftKings operates in Pennsylvania through a partnership with The Meadows, which is owned by Penn National. In November, it finished third in revenue and fifth in handle. December saw handle rise, putting DraftKings in second place behind FanDuel, but revenue dropped, and the operator slid to fifth.

Then came January. DraftKings took $58.6 million in wagers and posted $2.8 million in revenue. The numbers put them firmly into second place in Pennsylvania.

In the span of three months, DraftKings leaped over Parx, Rivers Philadelphia (formerly SugarHouse), Fox Bet, and Rivers Pittsburgh.

DraftKings Sportsbook Director of Operations Johnny Avello commented on the operator’s January performance:

“Our position is to make a lot of noise and we are going to continue to do that. We have a long way to go. We are never content so we will continue to move the needle in Pennsylvania. It was quite a jump for us, though. If you look at everyone behind us, we are gaining ground and everyone is a distant third and fourth. We are happy with the progress for the month.”

DraftKings liberal with promotional credits

The sportsbook operator is a generous “king.” DraftKings doesn’t just rely on brand recognition and a customer base from DFS. It has been generous with promotional credits. Since November, DraftKings doled out $4.8 million. Only FanDuel has given away more.

Said Avello on promotional credits:

“We are going to continue to do that. You have to reward customers for being loyal to you. We do odds boosts and promotions every day in every jurisdiction we are in.”

After DraftKings handle doubled from November to December, Chris Krafcik, managing director of sports and emerging verticals at Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, said part of DraftKings’ surge is due to its aggressive promotional rate. He also predicts a continuation of the dominance the top two online operators were experiencing by the end of 2019. Krafcik told PlayPennsylvania:

“In the near term, we anticipate that Pennsylvania’s online sports betting market will retain its winner-take-most shape, with a small handful of hyper-motivated operators—namely, FanDuel and DraftKings, which had nearly 65% combined market share in December—deploying significantly more marketing and promotional resource than the remainder of the market.”

DraftKings online sportsbook PA, month by month

DraftKings revenue, handle, and promotional credits by month:

Handle$16,247,801 $35,914,751$58,666,846
Promo Credits$582,598 $1,419,434 $2,805,228

Inside the DraftKings app

For Super Bowl LIV, DraftKings offered more than 400 Super Bowl-related betting markets. It was the only one that offered novelty props.

Inside the DraftKings app, users will find a king’s ransom worth of content on any given day. For example, here are the betting options for NBA games:

  • Point spread
  • Total points
  • Moneyline
  • First field goal
  • Top point scorer
  • First half point spread
  • Moneyline/total points parlay
  • First half total point
  • First half moneyline
  • Second half point spread
  • Point spread/Total points parlay
  • Second half total points over/under
  • Second half moneyline
  • First quarter (spread, points, moneyline)
  • Game to go to OT
  • Alternate point spread
  • Alternate points
  • Player props over/under points
  • Point spread/total points parlay
  • Player props over/under rebounds
  • To record a double-double
  • Player props over/under assists
  • Player props over/under 3-pointers
  • Points, rebounds, and assists
  • Alternate point spreads for quarters and halves
  • First to 10, 20, 50 points
  • Odd/even

Betting stats inside the DK app

There is a trove of betting information in the DraftKings app. Users can see how teams fare against the spread, over/under statistics, and how a team’s ATS percentage compares to others. No other sportsbook app in Pennsylvania comes close to offering the amount of betting information that DraftKings does.

Here is an example of the betting data for the Philadelphia 76ers versus Cleveland Cavaliers game on Feb. 26. Similar info is available for all NBA games.

DraftKings still living in a fantasy world

In December, DraftKings led the pack in Pennsylvania of fantasy operators with $1.66 million in revenue, a 26% increase from last year, according to the PGCB. January’s revenue was over $1 million.

The numbers indicate that the DraftKings fantasy product is still alive and well. Of Pennsylvania’s nine fantasy operators, it’s a two-horse race with DraftKings and FanDuel controlling 98% of the revenue.

Avello commented on its fantasy product in Pennsylvania:

“The brand recognition from fantasy certainly helped. Sports betting hasn’t hurt it, it’s enhanced it. People know of us and as we open up in various markets we have a built-in base already.”

DraftKings will play a major role in PA growth

Since its start in 2012, DraftKings became a leader in daily fantasy sports. In August 2018, it made sports betting history. DraftKings was the first legal, mobile sports betting operator post-PAPSA when it launched in New Jersey. FanDuel has held the top spot in New Jersey since November 2018 with DraftKings in second place.

Pennsylvania remains third behind New Jersey and Nevada in terms of sports betting revenue and handle. DraftKings made noise in January by fueling PA’s record handle ($348.4 million) and revenue ($22.8 million) despite a traditionally slow month for sports betting.

Avello, a 35-year vet of the industry, commented on what’s next:

“We are going to continue to work hard to get the customers who haven’t tried us to come on board. We feel we have the best mobile app out there. I don’t know what the numbers are going to be next month, but we are going to work hard to make them better.”

If Pennsylvania plans to be a major player in the post-PAPSA world, despite its high 36% tax rate and a $10 million licensing fee, it needs DraftKings to continue its quest.

FanDuel can flex its muscle, but the landscape of sports betting, very much like sports itself, is much more interesting when there is real drama and a rivalry involved. These two operators are giving the PA sports betting market just that.

Katie Kohler Avatar
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Katie Kohler

Katie Kohler is a Philadelphia-area based award-winning journalist and Managing Editor at PlayPennsylvania. Katie especially enjoys creating unique content and on-the-ground reporting in PA. She is focused on creating valuable, timely content about casinos and sports betting for readers. Katie has covered the legal Pennsylvania gambling industry for Catena Media since 2019.

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