Sportsbooks Compete for New York Bettors With Big Promos on Launch Day
Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images. New York sports fans
The floodgates finally open as four sportsbooks start to take mobile bets in New York on Saturday morning. It comes two years, five months and 19 days after the state took its first sports bet at a casino in upstate New York in July 2019.
It was a long winding road to get to mobile wagering, with the timeline hardly sped up by New Yorkers clearly helping New Jersey to score $1 billion monthly handles and the title of national sports betting supremacy.
With the average bettor downloading fewer than two apps, the race to win starts as the clock strikes 9 a.m. on the east coast.
With no legalization in sight for California and Texas, New York — even with a 51% gross revenue tax rate — is the biggest prize of the market, double the population of New Jersey and double the tourism for those who temporarily flow within the state’s borders.
“Being early matters,” said Mike Raffensperger, chief marketing officer of FanDuel, the market national market leader in the sports betting space. “And, for us and New York, it could not come at a better time. We get the final week of the NFL and then into Wild Card Weekend and the playoffs.”
FanDuel boasts a customer database of 13 million people and, like its competitor DraftKings, sees a high rate of its fantasy customers logging into the sportsbook.
Raffensperger said FanDuel will offer many incentives to fantasy players in New York to try betting with them and the site has supersized its “Refer A Friend” program, which normally just gives a free $50 to the person who referred. For New York, the company is also giving a free $50 to the person who signed up through the program.
FanDuel is also offering a risk-free first bet up to $1,000. After a $1,000 deposit is made, if that bet is lost, the sportsbook loads up $1,000 in site credits to be able to make more bets.
“We want to launch first or be tied for first getting into a market,” Matt Kalish, co-founder and president of DraftKings. “A fast start is always one of our big internal goals.”
Kalish said he said he feels DraftKings reputation for customer service, including a quick resolution of any issues, is one of many things that he feels will lead to New Yorkers adopting DK.
Caesars is the greenest of the entrants to be in the launch position. The brand has been moving at warp speed since completing its $4 billion purchase of William Hill in April. Part of the playing the catch up game is clearly bombarding the airwaves with television and digital advertisements starring J.B. Smoove that pitch its Las Vegas-like loyalty program that rewards bettors the more they bet.
Hoping to “caes” the moment, the brand is taking a huge swing with the biggest promotions of any book. There’s a $300 registration bonus and then they’re promising a match of funds up to $3,000. Caesars is also hoping to appeal to those who want to start with a smaller bet — offering an NBA jersey for the first $100 bet they make.
“We aren’t a one-trick pony,” said Ken Fuchs, head of sports for Caesars Entertainment. “We’re an aspirational brand in the hospitality, event and gambling space and the customer has an expectation that we will deliver.”
Fuchs would not publicly disclose the calculations Caesars made to offer the boffo bonuses they are doing at a time when the public markets are paying attention to sportsbooks ability to become profitable through the war of consumer acquisition, but said they are confident that their offerings would pay dividends.
Caesars already has one advantage. The brand’s top competitor right now is its Vegas name enemy BetMGM. They’re approved for New York, but they haven’t been approved to launch on the first day.
For Raffensperger, becoming No. 1 in New York, he says is personal.