HomeArizona Sports Betting NewsDraftKings Finally Edges FanDuel in Battle for Arizona Sports Betting Supremacy

DraftKings Finally Edges FanDuel in Battle for Arizona Sports Betting Supremacy

The August sports betting figures recently released by the Arizona Department of Gaming showed a virtual dead heat between FanDuel and DraftKings, the two dominant players overall in daily fantasy sports who in recent years have taken over the U.S. sports betting world as well.

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DraftKings Arizona claimed the crown for mobile sports betting for the month, which accounts for well over 90% of the total revenue in Arizona. Its $115.5 million in betting handle narrowly edged out FanDuel’s $115.1 million – marking the first time in 2023 that DraftKings held that advantage.

But FanDuel’s retail sportsbook at the Footprint Center – home of the NBA’s Phoenix Suns – took in another $2.1 million, giving FanDuel the overall edge in amount wagered by being the biggest player in the niche retail sportsbook space.

FanDuel AZ also had the edge in gross revenue at $12.7 million, compared to DraftKings’ $9.4 million.

There were four other sportsbook operators, out of the 16 total operators in the state, to exceed $10 million in handle for the month of August – BetMGM ($51 million), Caesars ($34 million), Arizona-based Desert Diamond ($15.3 million), and Barstool Sports ($11 million, and just rebranded into ESPNBet).

The $358.9 million wagered in August was up more than 10% over the figures for July, when bettors cashed 10.6% of wagers.

FanDuel did not need the modest retail sportsbook numbers in July to prevail, besting DraftKings by a margin of $113.7 million to $102.4 million on the mobile betting front.

The same was true of June ($146.3 million vs. $111.3 million) and of May ($152.3 million vs. $130.5 million), and each previous month of 2023 produced similar-sized edges for FanDuel.

BetMGM and Caesars, meanwhile, settled in as No. 3 and No. 4 in each month this year in Arizona sports betting handle.

The status quo has come fairly quickly, given that the first sports bets were not taken in Arizona until September 2021.

What’s Next for the Rest of the Arizona Sports Betting Field?

The entire U.S. sports betting industry seems intrigued by how ESPN Bet – which just launched on Tuesday in Arizona and numerous other states – will fare against the biggest players.

For instance, can ESPN Bet AZ seriously grow to challenge DraftKings and FanDuel within a year? Can they overtake BetMGM and Caesars in Arizona? Or do they perhaps merely outperform a mid-sized company like Desert Diamond?

Beyond those questions are how long the smaller competitors in Arizona can stay afloat, and if the addition of ESPN Bet – which figures to play a larger role in the betting marketplace than Barstool achieved – leads any of those competitors to close up shop even sooner.

ESPN Bet Arizona is offering those signing up $250 in “bonus bets,” which is not in the class of some of the most lucrative promotions in earlier-adapting states five years ago but likely enough to lure many gamblers to add them to their portfolio of sports betting apps.

Going by August figures, Rush Street Interactive ranked sixth with $3.8 million in betting handle – but the company paid out $3.9 million in winnings for the month. BetFred ($2.8 million) and Hard Rock ($2.7 million) each produced narrow profits in August, as did BetWay ($1.2 million) and WynnBet ($1 million).

Superbook, UniBet, Sahara Bets, Churchill Downs, and Golden Nugget all failed to take in as much as $1 million in bets in August.

DraftKings vs. FanDuel, DFS-style

The August “Fantasy Sports Contest Revenue Report” by the Arizona Department of Gaming offered unexpected numbers for those not familiar with a new wrinkle in the daily fantasy sports saga.

The majority of the DFS revenue – $471,000 – was produced by a company called Prize Picks, followed by DraftKings ($123,000), Underdog (82,000), FanDuel (a mere $21,000) , and Yahoo Sports ($6,000).

But that landscape seem to have changed quite a bit in November.

A letter sent out by the Arizona Department of Gaming on Nov. 7 clarified that “Pick ‘Em Fantasy” games can only be offered as sports betting – not as daily fantasy sports. That’s because DFS contests, by Arizona law, feature entrants who compete against each other – whereas Prize Picks and Underdog have been allowing players to compete “against the house.”

“A key piece of a fantasy sports contest is that participants create teams and compete against one another in simulated games,” according to ADG assistant director of compliance Andrea Milford. “The disputed wagers do fit squarely within the definition of event wagering. So, they may only be offered by properly licensed event wagering operators.”

The letter puts into question the continued existence of Prize Picks and Underdog in Arizona, just as a number of other states have cracked down on what had appeared to be a loophole in differentiating DFS vs. sports betting.

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