FanDuel Sportsbook Opening Festivities Just A Precursor To March Madness

Written By Bill Gelman on March 14, 2019 - Last Updated on May 3, 2023
FanDuel at Valley Forge

FanDuel Sportsbook, New Jersey’s leading retail operator, is finally operational in Pennsylvania.

The official ribbon-cutting to the 1,800-square-foot FanDuel Sportsbook at Valley Forge Casino Resort in King of Prussia took place at noon on Wednesday, March 13. But many of the fans watching were there for another reason: to see former Philadelphia Eagle tight end Brent Celek make the ceremonial first bet.

Believe it or not, he did not take the over on Eagles victories. Celek decided to put his money down on new Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper.

It’s going to take a long time for this bet to come to fruition, but Bryce is going to do it for me,” Celek told the assembled crowd.

This is a busy week of PA sports betting announcements. Besides the FanDuel Sportsbook opening, Greenwood Racing began testing at Valley Forge Turf Club on Tuesday, with the official launch taking place Thursday. This brings the Pennsylvania retail total to eight.

The start of a great FanDuel Boyd Gaming partnership

Brent Celek FanDuel launchThe opening of the FanDuel Sportsbook is the beginning of a sports betting partnership with Nevada-based Boyd Gaming. The company took over Valley Forge casino last year. Since then, it has invested more than $40 million in upgrades.

This week’s opening is only the second FanDuel retail sportsbook to open in the United States. The other is the Meadowlands Racetrack in New Jersey. But the concept is part of a bigger plan between these two established companies.

Matt King, CEO of FanDuel Group, shared his thoughts on the partnership in the news release:

“Opening the FanDuel Sportsbook at Valley Forge Casino Resort is the start of FanDuel Group’s retail sports betting expansion in partnership with Boyd Gaming.

“Our experience operating the top sportsbook in New Jersey at the Meadowlands Racetrack will serve us well as we enter Philadelphia and compete for customers in an area with some of the most passionate and knowledgeable sports fans.”

FanDuel Sportsbook ready for the madness

FanDuel Sportsbook is ready to handle the crowds expected for next week’s first and second round NCAA Tournament games. The space features:

  • 7 betting windows
  • 29 video displays (televisions and odds screens)
  • sports tickers
  • Seating for more than 30 guests

Betting hours

  • Monday-Thursday: 10 a.m. – 1 a.m.
  • Friday: 10 a.m. – 2 a.m.
  • Saturday: 7 a.m. – 2 a.m.
  • Sunday: 8 a.m. – 1 a.m.

Ready for March Madness betting

March Madness betting is one of the busiest times of year on the sports betting calendar, if not the biggest. Yes, this includes those office pools that technically are not legal. And the new FanDuel Sportsbook happens to be in Villanova Wildcat country, where the defending national champions reside.

The campus is about seven miles from Valley Forge Casino. Between this week’s Big East Tournament and next week’s Big Dance tip-off, the sports betting forecast calls for a very good chance of Villanova basketball betting.

Opening about a week before the first-round games begin on ThursdayMarch 21 gives both companies the chance to work out any kinks before the insanity begins.

Keith Wall, vice president of retail for the FanDuel Group, talked about the plans to get up and running in time for the Big Dance.

“We are very excited. We had a fairly ambitious target to get open for March Madness.”

Dave Zerfing, general manager of Valley Forge Casino, is equally as excited about the finished product, as well as showcasing the entire property. It’s the only casino in the Philadelphia area that offers hotel rooms and convention space. But he is well aware there is something special about the NCAA Tournament.

“If you haven’t been in a sportsbook for March Madness, there is nothing more exciting than that first weekend with all those games going on and everybody having action on everything.”

Coming soon: FanDuel Sportsbook app

Judging by the New Jersey model, mobile sports betting is a huge part of the overall handle. While the launch remains a work in progress in the Keystone State, all it takes is one look at the numbers to see the potential. Based on February figures released by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, this is where the majority of the sports betting action is coming from.

FanDuel is a huge part of this equation. The Meadowlands, which is located near New York City, reported a February revenue total of $8,083,326, the bulk of which came via FanDuel online betting app customers.

Zerfing said the Valley Forge team is working with FanDuel to get the system submitted and approved by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB).

Wall said FanDuel is eyeing a summer launch for online betting. But that decision remains up to the PCGB.

And while they may be the newcomer on the Pennsylvania sports betting scene, the FanDuel Sportsbook mobile app has been up and running in the Garden State since Sept. 1. Call it a head start to bigger things on the sports betting horizon.

Wall explains:

“We’ve had a few months in New Jersey to get to know the customer, and get to know what they want. We’ve been improving the product continuously over the last few months.”

“Our market offering is deeper than any other competitor, and we want to bring that straight into Pennsylvania.”

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Bill Gelman

Bill Gelman is a veteran sports writer based just outside of Philadelphia and not too far from the Jersey Shore. Bill covers the legal gambling industry including sports betting, online casinos and Atlantic City casino news.

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