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DraftKings’ mobile sportsbook exceeds expectations in New Jersey

Jamie Shea is head of digital sportsbook for DraftKings, the first company to operate a mobile sportsbook in the state of New Jersey after it legalised betting. She spoks at the recent SportBusiness Summit about the company’s experiences in the state.

• Company went to market three weeks earlier than anyone else
• Revenues are 300 per cent over expectations
• Mobile sportsbooks reduce the intimidation factor for fans

You had the first mobile sportsbook in New Jersey. Tell us what has happened in that market and your experiences there.

We were first to market, which was our goal. We were in there about three weeks earlier than everyone else. There has been a lot of hard work over the last year building our own platform, getting it out there, really finding out what the consumer wanted and using the best of the European market and the US market to build that platform. So far, we have beaten expectations by over 300 per cent. We’ve taken our two millionth bet, so it’s been going very well.

Mark Cuban said the value of his NBA franchise (the Dallas Mavericks) doubled overnight as a result of the legalisation of sports betting. New Jersey was one of the first states to open up. What has the impact been there in terms of engagement with the teams and the state?

The revenue take in New Jersey is $4m which is the figure that the state has taken. I see what Mark Cuban is talking about in the sense that viewership goes up. Let’s say you have a team that’s going to wipe out the other team and you have a 42-point spread, that makes it an even game. In New Jersey you’re seeing some home team [betting], you’re getting lots of action on the Giants, you’re getting tonnes of action on the Yankees. We always say if the Yankees win, it’s probably not a great day. We’re just really impressed with how the market has done and how it’s exceeded expectations because we put some high numbers in there and the bar has definitely gone up. We were alone in the market for about three weeks and now you’ve got competitors coming in and that’s good for all of us to improve our game and up the offers.

At the moment there are eight mobile sportsbooks in New Jersey and there could be over 30 in total by the time digital skins are in operation [an online book in partnership with a casino or racetrack]. Only New Jersey and Nevada are fully mobile across the state whereas for Mississippi it’s mobile-only on premises. From a technology perspective, what issues does that present?

I think with geofencing and geolocation, a lot of that is taken care of for us. I think we have great technology now to make sure we follow what the legislation dictates. As far as Mississippi is concerned, I can see that opening up at some point, once they see we can geofence certain counties.

How important has mobile betting been to your success in New Jersey?

We’ve found through different focus groups and research that you have a demographic out there that wants to learn on their own and that’s where mobile devices come in. There’s an intimidation factor when you walk up to a window and you go to make a wager and you get a little intimidated by the guy behind the counter. You don’t have any of that with a mobile device, so I think that’s going to allow us to scale quickly.

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