DraftKings was the sportsbook of choice among Massachusetts bettors in the first month of online sports betting.
That wasn’t necessarily a surprise. But DraftKings staying atop the Massachusetts market in the long run? That would be.
Earlier this week, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission released online sports betting handle and revenue totals for the first month of online sports betting in Massachusetts. DraftKings took the top spot in handle with $257.6 million, or 47% of the market.
The news was big for the Boston-based company, which devoted more resources than it usually would for a launch to be No. 1 in its own backyard. Whether that’s sustainable is another question entirely.
What led DraftKings to the top in Massachusetts
DraftKings has strong Massachusetts roots. The company was founded in the Bay State and has its headquarters in Boston.
It’s clear DraftKings wanted to capitalize on its home-field advantage. In just a short amount of time, we’ve seen DraftKings dedicate an abundance of resources to its Massachusetts launch, more than it has in other states.
Commercials were a big part of that effort. For example, DraftKings paid Boston legends Lenny Clarke, David Ortiz, Zdeno Chara and Brian Scalabrine to headline a “Bet Local” commercial that began airing in Massachusetts on March 10. So far, it’s been well-received.
DraftKings has bombarded airwaves and social media channels in Massachusetts with other ads, too. The Celtics vs. Rockets broadcast from March 13 featured nine sportsbook ads, including four from DraftKings.
In addition, the DraftKings welcome bonus is a big reason why the platform is off to a great start in the Commonwealth. It also shows the company’s dedication to Massachusetts success, compared to FanDuel.
At launch on March 10, DraftKings MA offered new customers up to $1,250 in bonus bets as a welcome promo. That’s down to $1,200 now, which is still a lucrative bonus. In contrast, FanDuel offered a bet $5 for $250 in bonus bets at launch, and that offer has shrunk to $150.
What DraftKings can do to stay at No. 1
Although offering a larger welcome bonus can lead to more handle, it isn’t the key to a permanent place atop a state’s market.
Look at March revenue compared to handle. Although DraftKings had 47% of the Massachusetts market in handle, it had just 34.5% of the market in revenue. FanDuel was No. 1 in revenue with 35.9% of the market.
This shows that, yes, DraftKings received more in total sports wagers in March. But it also ate more losses in the form of promo credits. And, in a mature market where the number of new bettors taking advantage of welcome offers reduces dramatically, promo credits matter for market share a whole lot less.
So keep an eye on what DraftKings does with its welcome bonus in MA moving forward. Will it pull back to maximize revenue? Or will it continue to blitz the market with bonuses and odds boosts to keep the DraftKings wildfire burning as long as possible?
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Beyond promos, continuing to bombard online feeds and airwaves in MA is going to be crucial to DraftKings’ success there.
Given the success of DraftKings’ Massachusetts-themed commercials, it would not be surprising to see new ads come into the mix. Boston has a rich sports history, and getting fan-favorite athletes into localized ads could continue to pay dividends for the company.
In addition, the new NBA collective bargaining agreement allows for current NBA players to be sponsored by sports gambling ventures. That could open the door for several Boston Celtics players to become sportsbook ambassadors for DraftKings. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are two names that come to mind.
DraftKings is currently the DFS partner of the Celtics.
DraftKings trying to fend off FanDuel
FanDuel is without a doubt the sports betting leader in the US. The company currently has the largest market share in 15 of the 19 states in which it operates. In Q4 of 2022, it had 50% of the US market.
Being the top dog in Massachusetts was big for DraftKings, even if it is just for the first 21 days. The MGC’s report features numbers from March 10-31.
But in the long run, FanDuel could take the No. 1 spot from DraftKings — especially as welcome bonuses lose importance.
Whether we see DraftKings’ March success replicated in April, the first full month of online sports betting, will be telling. The MGC will release that data May 15.