FanDuel executives talk Nevada sports-betting prospects

April 3, 2024 8:37 PM
Photo: Shutterstock
  • Buck Wargo, CDC Gaming Reports
April 3, 2024 8:37 PM

FanDuel executives raised the prospects that the sports-betting and fantasy-sports operator could have a greater presence in Nevada beyond its current minimal role, but that it would take an acquisition within the state to do so.

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Currently, FanDuel provides branding and oddsmaking at the Fremont Hotel & Casino, a property of Boyd Gaming in downtown Las Vegas.

Executives made the comments Wednesday at a Nevada Gaming Control Board meeting, where they were up for licensing review. FanDuel is licensed in Nevada to provide information services, which it does for Boyd Gaming; Boyd holds a 5% stake in the company.

The comments provided more information about the future of FanDuel in Nevada, after FanDuel CFO David Jennings was about it during an appearance before the Board during Super Bowl week. Jennings said only that there was nothing to announce at that time.

Paul Edgecliffe-Johnson, chief financial officer for Flutter Entertainment, FanDuel’s parent company, said FanDuel is looking at building its business in each state, including Nevada.

If FanDuel can expand in any state that makes “good commercial sense, we will.” He added it’s more complicated in Nevada without a merger-and-acquisition transaction to effect that. “We keep everything under constant review.”

FanDuel’s relationship with Boyd Gaming at the Fremont is going well, Edgecliffe-Johnson said. It partners with Boyd in other states as well.

The Board recommended Edgecliffe-Johnson’s licensing, as well as for Conor Lynch, chief information officer who manages Flutter’s technology division. It also recommended Padraig O’Riordain as a director and chair of the compliance committee, who also weighed in on the prospects in Nevada.

“Our challenge in relation to Nevada is we have very developed risk and trading from a sports perspective globally,” O’Riordain said. “Without acquiring something and having different licensure here, we can’t bring that in. For us, we need to work out how we’re going to solve that issue. It’s under consideration.”

To operate a sportsbook in Nevada, a company must have a brick-and-mortar property, since the state doesn’t allow remote registration, which FanDuel uses in other states where allowed.

Board member George Assad said Nevada is the gold standard and one of the biggest markets for online sports betting and urged setting up in the state.

Casino consultant Brendan Bussmann, managing partner of B Global, said in an interview that FanDuel has the same problem that keeps DraftKings and Fanatics from setting up in Las Vegas.

“The system in place favors a brick-and-mortar, in an age that’s going digital,” Bussmann said. “You have two of the largest players in FanDuel and DraftKings, which has an office in Las Vegas, but they don’t play here. You can have DraftKings, Fanatics, and FanDuel but because of how it’s structured you don’t have your largest online sportsbooks and online-gaming opportunities in Nevada. Frankly, we’re not the gold standard anymore. We need to modernize and we’re leaving money on the table by not doing it.”

Bussmann noted that many people in town to attend the F1 race in November and Super Bowl in February said they won’t bother betting in the future when they come, because it’s difficult to get their money down by having to go in person. It’s difficult to make the in-person registration process work, as those companies would need a presence on the Strip to make it worthwhile, Bussmann said.

“Look at Penn Entertainment,” Bussmann said. “They own the M Resort and there are two reasons why ESPN Bet isn’t here. One is the tech to redo your system and make it work and two, it’s the access points. You have to figure out how to be on the Strip. If you land in New York City or Newark, people can bet within five minutes of setting up an account. In Nevada, it takes 45 and they have to walk into a place to do it.”