Valley Forge Casino presented its plans for Pennsylvania sports betting to the PA Gaming Control Board (PGCB) on Dec. 19. The presentation hit all the right buttons, so PGCB conditionally approved the company’s Sports Wagering Certificate.
Part of the presentation included a timeline of Valley Forge’s plans. If all goes well, the casino will launch its sportsbook not long after March 2019.
That seems a long way off. Hollywood Casino launched its state-regulated sports betting on Nov. 17. Additionally, SugarHouse and its corporate sibling the Rivers Casino debuted on December 13.
Valley Forge is now owned by Boyd Gaming. Entering this exciting new market four months later than their competitors risks being at a disadvantage.
But Boyd has an ace up its sleeve; FanDuel is going to provide the sports betting for Valley Forge.
FanDuel is rocking New Jersey sports betting
FanDuel is probably best known in Pennsylvania for its daily fantasy sports (DFS) online games. In fact, it has a tremendous asset in its brand awareness it has throughout the US.
Earlier in 2018, the European gaming giant Paddy Power Betfair (PPB) bought FanDuel. The deal rationale was to use FanDuel as its premier brand in the US sports betting market precisely because the brand is so well known.
PPB has the capital and investment power to make sure that US expansion is extremely well funded. It also has all the technology it needs as one of the world’s largest sports betting operators, both live and online.
Case in point: New Jersey. Up to the end of November, FanDuel and its partner the Meadowlands racetrack had generated over $4.4 million in gross gaming revenues.
That is well behind the DraftKings/Resorts Casino partnership, but a country mile ahead of all the other operators.
Two things to note:
- The top sports betting revenue generators in New Jersey are both big DFS brands.
- Valley Forge does not have a racetrack attached.
Big brand balances late market entry
Compared to many international sports betting brands, FanDuel is considerably better known.
DraftKings was the first to market with an online sports betting app in New Jersey, but FanDuel was already up and running at the Meadowlands with its live sports betting.
Nevertheless, they both stole a march on most of their competitors by getting into the market early. This is part of their current success, but not all of it. The fact that both were already well known for their DFS products is also a factor.
So in Pennsylvania, FanDuel won’t have the early entry advantage, but may be able to make up for it with greater brand awareness. Perhaps a month or three late won’t matter.
Valley Forge relying on FanDuel for online success
Valley Forge doesn’t host a racetrack. It is fair to say that the New Jersey racetrack customer base probably helped FanDuel’s early success. Not only did the Meadowlands horse racing customers get to place sports bets, but they also got to do so well aware of the FanDuel brand.
When Fanduel then launched a sports betting app, customers were already at least partially aware of the brand.
DraftKings didn’t have the racetrack advantage, or any live sports betting outlet for that matter. It hit the market with only online sports betting.
Online sports betting turns out to be the most popular form of sports betting. In November, New Jersey total sports betting handle online was $238.6 million. Live sports betting at racetracks and casinos only pulled in $92.6 million.
Valley Forge and FanDuel say their online sports betting should be ready to go at the same time as their live sports betting. That may be more important than any of the other factors. However, PGCB might not allow a simultaneous release.
None of Pennsylvania’s other casinos have a mobile or online sports betting product on the market. This is, at least in part, because PGCB wanted retail to launch separately before green-lighting online betting apps.
Boyd is in with the cool kids of sports betting
The fact that Boyd is now owner of Valley Forge is significant. The partnership with PPB’s FanDuel is important, but Boyd also has a strategic partnership with MGM.
MGM has a $200 million joint venture with GVC, owners of partypoker. The Boyd deal has been folded into the GVC deal.
GVC is one of the world’s top sports betting companies. The European company SportingBet was an early brand, and it has since bought the Ladbrokes Coral group. Ladbrokes is one of the world’s oldest sports betting companies, founded in 1886.
Between the members of this cool kids group, there is a vast experience of successful sports betting around the globe and in the US.
Pennsylvania sports bettors that try the Valley Forge experience will not be settling for second-best.