In a stunning coup for the daily fantasy sports (DFS) industry leader, DraftKings has beaten all comers to market by offering the first online and mobile sports betting services in New Jersey.
After a successful five-day soft launch period that concluded on August 5, DraftKings extended its existing DFS platform to include a comprehensive online sportsbook the following day.
That makes DraftKings the first operator in the Garden State – which legalized sports betting on June 14 and has MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment already in the sportsbook arena – to let bettors place wagers online through their computers, smartphones, or tablets.
In a statement issued to announce the launch of DraftKings Sportsbook the company’s chief executive officer and co-founder Jason Robins spoke to the “thrill” provided by online betting:
“I am excited to begin this new chapter in our story by officially launching what I believe to be the most innovative, mobile sports betting product in the U.S.
We have put immense thought and significant resources behind the development of DraftKings Sportsbook and I’m confident that sports fans in New Jersey will enjoy using it to make the experience of watching the games even more interesting and thrilling.”
DraftKings Sportsbook operates under an interactive gaming license held by Resorts Atlantic City, which also includes PokerStars NJ under its regulatory umbrella. The software used to power the site, including setting lines and odds, is provided by Malta-based business-to-business sports betting servicer Kambi.
While major gaming industry players like MGM and Caesars have moved quickly to have their brick and mortar casinos outfitted with sportsbook facilities, neither has launched an online component as of yet.
And while those delays certainly helped DraftKings become the market’s first mover, co-founder Matt Kalish told Legal Sports Report that the company has been working toward that goal throughout the year:
“We started building our sportsbook product at the end of last year.
That was sort of a big bet that the company was making, because we knew the Supreme Court was looking at the case that New Jersey had brought against PASPA. We wanted to be ready in the event that legal, regulated sportsbooks in the US became an option in terms of a product that we could offer.
We wanted to be ready to go as close to day one as possible with the launch of that product.”
In December of last year, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Murphy v. NCAA, which revolved around New Jersey’s years’ long effort to legalize sports betting in the state. Those oral arguments led most legal observers to believe that the Court would side with New Jersey, striking down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992 – the federal law which previously banned sportsbooks in every state except Nevada.
As Kalish confirmed, DraftKings began its preparations at that time under the expectation that PASPA would eventually be repealed. And when the Court issued a 6-3 decision forcefully rejecting PASPA as unconstitutional, DraftKings’ long-term gamble paid off.
DraftKings is the first to offer online sportsbook services in New Jersey, but it’s not the first DFS site to explore the state’s emerging market.
On July 14, rival DFS firm FanDuel opened its own brick and mortar sportsbook at the Meadowlands Racetrack. The venue quickly collected more than $1 million in bets during its opening weekend, a fact which hardly escaped DraftKings’ notice.
FanDuel plans to launch an online and mobile component in the imminent future, but for now anyway, DraftKings is the only place to place sports bets on the go.