The big boys are taking over the online end of legal sports betting in the United States.
Data from states with legal wagering show that three — but increasingly more like two — operators of online sports betting sites are controlling more and more of the mobile gambling market, which could ultimately be bad news for line shoppers and fans of corporate competition.
In Indiana, for instance, FanDuel claimed 46.7% of gross gaming revenue (GGR) from online sports betting during June, or $8.4 million, according to VIXIO GamblingCompliance Data. DraftKings, meanwhile, accounted for 32.1% of the online market in June, while BetMGM claimed 10.6% of GGR to round out the top three in the state.
In New York, the country’s largest online sports betting market, FanDuel claimed 45.5% of gross gaming revenue during June, while DraftKings accounted for 35.8%. BetMGM, which has been vocal about the challenges of doing business in the state given the 51% tax rate on New York sports betting, still grabbed a 6.8% market share, finishing just off the podium behind Caesars Sportsbook and its 8.3% cut of GGR.
Consolidation has arrived
A report released this week by investment banking firm Jefferies showed FanDuel possessed 45% of the online sports betting market in the U.S. by GGR, followed by DraftKings at 30% and BetMGM at 9%. The "others" claimed a 16% share, but that number has been shrinking, falling from 31% for the first quarter of 2021. BetMGM saw its market share in U.S. online sports betting fall from 16% to its current level over the same period.
The growing market share for a few bookmakers, and the decline of others, come as the legal sports betting industry has seen several operators throw in the towel over the past few years. Fubo, MaximBet, and the online sports betting arm of Churchill Downs Inc. either shuttered or curtailed their mobile event wagering operations.
"We do think there's going to be consolidation at some point," FanDuel CEO Amy Howe predicted during the SBC Summit North America conference in New Jersey last July. "When that occurs, how that occurs, is still to be seen. I think the big question is, if you look at some of the operators right now, to what degree are they going to need financial backing and capital to continue to get them through this period of time?"
Whither the little guy
Some sportsbook operators may need to pull back, merge, or sell to survive if they aren't seeing enough business, but doing so will leave bettors with fewer places to wager. That means fewer differences in opinion between mobile bookmakers when it comes to setting odds and lines on which bettors can try to take advantage.
In Maryland, lawmakers put provisions in their legal sports betting legislation designed to foster the participation of smaller businesses in the state’s wagering market. This week, start-up Crab Sports officially launched its mobile wagering operations in Maryland, becoming the 11th online bookmaker in the state. Even so, Maryland's online sports betting scene, like others, is still dominated by FanDuel, DraftKings, and, to a lesser extent, BetMGM. The three operators took almost 90% of all online sports bets in Maryland during June.
There are reasons why online sports betting is becoming a competition between just a few operators. DraftKings and FanDuel are already well-known for their daily fantasy sports products, and those customer databases can make it easier for them to acquire customers when a state launches event wagering. BetMGM, as well as Caesars Sportsbook, have leaned on their reputations in casino gambling, while all of the bigger operators have spent large sums on advertising campaigns to attract bettors.
The Pepsi Challenge, but make it sportsbooks
But are they good? If all U.S. sports betting sites were scrubbed of any identifying feature, would bettors still overwhelmingly choose DraftKings or FanDuel? With that in mind, greater market share may eventually put greater emphasis on the product more and more people are using, which may be because they have nowhere else to go.
Recent research conducted for the Fantasy Sports & Gaming Association (FSGA) indicated that 66% of sports bettors “claim their primary betting platform as one of the two most popular operators,” which the advocacy group said highlighted the importance of customer retention. Smaller operators may need to showcase superior wagering platforms and offerings to win business for themselves.
“With market maturation/consolidation, the new battle is now over making players’ and bettors’ lives easier when using the platform,” the FSGA said in a press release. “Investing in user experience (UX) will be a key for companies moving forward.”