FanDuel CEO Matt King joked with MarketWatch that the Super Bowl should fall under the CDC’s “essential travel” recommendations. King, the director of the New York-based sportsbook and fantasy sports daily site since 2017, is an annual gambling attendee, but this year he decided it “didn’t make sense” to go. Like millions of other NFL fans, King will see the Chiefs take on the Bucs on television.
In an interview with MarketWatch, King weighed in on how the pandemic is accelerating sports betting, FanDuel’s interest in going public, and whether legal sports betting in New York State is a “game changer.” MarketWatch: Will FanDuel hold a physical event for the Super Bowl this year? King: It is quite limited this year. Last year we did a lot of player events and some events with some of our partners who are there. A number of smaller things. MarketWatch: Do you anticipate more money being wagered on the Super Bowl this year than in previous years? King: Yes, there will be much more. Obviously we’re in a lot more states, that’s the tailwind, but even the states we’ve been operating in the last two years have increased significantly this year. See also: Here’s everything you need to know about betting on the Super Bowl legally MarketWatch: What are your total betting projections for the game? King: Our business has grown spectacularly. I’m not sure we’re releasing our specific projections, but it will be by far the most important game on record for us. Many orders of magnitude increase year after year. The statistic that I can give you because it’s on the tip of my tongue is that in the first 28 days of 2021, we’ve made $ 1 billion in control of the bookmaker. We didn’t get to $ 1 billion in control in 2020 until the fourth quarter. MarketWatch: Any particular growth areas in your business that you are looking at? Something like live betting, for example? King: Live betting has been quite popular from day one. I’d say the big story this year will be our same-game parlay product. This is where you can bet on multiple things happening in the same game and we really are the only ones on the market to offer it. The Super Bowl is perfect for parlay betting on the same game. It lets people say “here are the three guys that I think are going to score a touchdown.” The acceptance of the product by customers so far this year has been outstanding. See Also: 10 Super Bowl Props Bets Including ‘Doink Special’ and ‘Fat Man TD’ MarketWatch: Florida, the state where the Super Bowl is located, came close to legalizing sports betting in 2020, but it never happened. How closely are you watching the new states trying to legalize gambling? King: Our lead attorney once gave me some good advice saying “the chances of passing any law are 50/50 until it is passed.” Either it will happen or not and I have taken it seriously. The way we look at the world is that we think of the total number of states that are considering sports betting and we assume that some percentage of them will pass. It is difficult to predict which ones will exceed the goal line. We are sure you will see several states passing it this year, but we don’t know which ones. MarketWatch: The four most populous states – California, Texas, New York and Florida have yet to legalize sports betting, do you think those states will change the rules of the game for your business? King: We certainly see every new state as a market opportunity, and obviously the bigger the state, the greater the market opportunity. But the real change is what is already happening. Sports betting is becoming part of the narrative around sports. It’s embedded in the way we talk about sports and even in those big states it’s a question of when, not if, because people are understanding the size of the scope of the illegal market and the fact that it’s just common sense legislation to try and put it out of business. I don’t necessarily see them as a game changer because the reality is that we are already in the middle of the game. Certainly a great state will speed things up. MarketWatch: Do you think the pandemic will force states to legalize sports betting faster? King: I think that will be the case. I think it will be the case for sports betting and igaming. You have two things going. One is that the fiscal pressures for any individual state are greater than ever. I think states will look for ways to help them get out of the fiscal holes created by the pandemic. But the other thing is that more states passed laws on sports betting and igaming and showed that they are common sense laws in which everyone wins. It enables consumers to do what they love, generates tax revenue for the state, and leaves an illegal market out of business. It is a fairly easy choice to make. MarketWatch: Are you advertising during the Super Bowl this year? King: We won’t be during the game. We didn’t think it made sense to do a Super Bowl ad this year. MarketWatch: Do you think the NFL would like a sportsbook ad during the game? King: The NFL approves of all game ads, (laughs) so they’re not going to miss a sports betting ad during the game right now. MarketWatch: FanDuel is not a public company, but when you see great growth from other public betting companies like DraftKings DKNG, + 1.12% and Penn PENN, + 8.93%, do you feel jealous or feel that it is good for the industry? ? King: Our focus is on the fan, and where we focus on winning is on delivering the best product and the best fan experience on the market. When we receive customer feedback and look at the market share reports, it becomes clear that we have the number one business. And that makes us very proud. Stock prices, as we’ve seen in recent weeks (laughs), can be a bit short-lived. See also: Mark Cuban to WallStreetBets Traders: ‘Thanks for changing the game, thanks for taking on Wall Street‘ MarketWatch: What about a “high tide raises all boats” line of thought? King: From the perspective of people understanding more about the industry and how it adds to the sports ecosystem, that’s a good thing. So whatever it does that is a good thing. It is also a great market. We don’t see things as a zero-sum game; we see it as if we were in the first innings of a great business game. That competition generates innovation. MarketWatch: In our interview last year, we discussed the idea of FanDuel as a public company. Go public with something you’ve discussed with your team? King: Our focus is simply trying to build the best business possible. There is a lot to do to grow the business and innovate the product. We are well funded by Flutter FLTR, + 0.11% and we have all the resources we need. We are just trying to grow the business. MarketWatch: Election betting is something that interests you? King: I think clearly people find electoral betting an interesting way to participate in politics. There are many legal restrictions in the US that do not exist in Europe. Our focus has been to offer free games in the presidential debates. We can see that there is a lot of interest in him. But I think it will be a long time before we see a huge electoral betting market here. MarketWatch: So the presidential elections of 2024 and 2028, you don’t anticipate the electoral stakes by then? King: I don’t think it’s a big deal, mainly because regulations will continue to restrict the market and I don’t see those regulations changing. However, the demand is definitely there. MarketWatch: Who do bookmakers need to win? King: The Super Bowl is not about making or losing money like we talked about last year. It’s about giving fans a phenomenal experience. Most of the bets are on the Chiefs, so if the Chiefs win and cover the margin, we will lose a few dollars. The same is true if it is a very high scoring game, which is quite typical. See also: Tickets to this year’s Super Bowl are more expensive than they have been in more than a decade MarketWatch: What will sports betting look like 10 years from now? King: I think it’s less about sports betting in isolation and more about the convergence of things like sports betting and gaming in general with sports and sports media. It’s safe to say that all sports rights owners are trying to find new ways to engage fans. I think you will see cool stuff for the next generation fan experience. You may see new ways of watching sports, a more personalized experience. MarketWatch: A gamification of real games? King – The ability to get in and out of games more easily based on important moments. Reduced latency in streaming feeds. You’ll see some alternate broadcasters, either your favorite Twitch personality advertising the game or someone who can give you a more gambling-oriented look at the game. A more personalized experience instead of having to consume the same stream that 20 million more people are watching.