The struggling Finger Lakes casino has partnered with the leading daily fantasy sports company to provide wagering both on-site and across online/mobile channels. It’s the second sports betting deal for DraftKings and its first involving a retail location.
In addition to del Lago, three other NY casinos have a preliminary roadmap for sports betting.
- Tioga Downs partnered with FanDuel Group, the new subsidiary of Paddy Power Betfair.
- Rivers Casino is part of Rush Street Gaming, which recently partnered with Kambi.
- Resorts World Catskills does not have a public partnership, but it is “prepared to implement sports betting.”
These plans, however, still hinge on the ambitions of state regulators. NY sports betting is legal but not yet authorized.
DraftKings ready for del Lago
DraftKings and FanDuel both maintain offices in New York City, and both have been serving NY customers under DFS regulations since 2016. In the months since the US Supreme Court ruling in favor of sports betting. both have begun to pursue sports betting in earnest. New York was among their earliest targets.
As you might expect, DraftKings’ CEO Jason Robins is pretty pleased about the chance to enter such a big market.
New York is one of the largest revenue opportunities for future sports wagering operators and we are thrilled to partner with del Lago Resort & Casino to offer sports fans a unique and novel sports betting experience, both at a physical sportsbook and on mobile when permitted.
Land-based operations are part of the equation, but the long-term goal is to capture the online/mobile audience.
To that end, DraftKings has hired Kambi to provide the sports betting tech for its platform, which is in development. Robins and co-founder Matt Kalish recently teased the first screenshots of the sportsbook app on Twitter.
DraftKings has also secured a point of entry into New Jersey under a licensing agreement with Resorts Atlantic City. The company is seeking to raise $200 million to support a new staff in Hoboken.
Del Lago ready for DraftKings
If you’re not aware of the property’s brief history, suffice it to say del Lago is struggling. All four of the new commercial casinos are, but the one in Waterloo has issues that are especially acute.
In the 18 months since del Lago opened, owners have asked the state for a bailout at least twice. Initial revenue projections were off by more than half, leading to a cascade of financial worry. Response from lawmakers has ranged from unreceptive to downright appalled.
Sports betting wouldn’t solve all of del Lago’s troubles, but any increase in foot traffic would be useful right now. Co-chairman Brent Stevens seems just as eager about the deal as Robins.
We see DraftKings as a fantastic and strategic partner in our sportsbook operation at del Lago Resort & Casino, and this deal represents a tremendous move forward for our property in general.
Our partnership with DraftKings combines one of the most recognizable brands in sports with the top resort and casino brand in New York and represents an incredibly important moment for gaming in the Upstate region. We look forward to working closely with DraftKings to create a dynamic, engaging and innovative sports betting experience for New Yorkers.
Depending on the timeline, it might even be the first physical, DraftKings-branded sportsbook to open. That NJ partnership with Resorts is limited to an online/mobile implementation.
Regulators not ready for sports betting?
This is all well and good except NY sports betting is not an actual thing yet. Not legally, at least. Voters approved the activity for commercial casinos in 2013, but regulators have yet to move forward.
When exactly that will happen is anyone’s guess.
The most recent update from the NYS Gaming Commission is that it “continues to work on regulations that would effectuate sports gambling under existing statutory language.” That has been the standing update since May. When pressed for a timeline, a spokesperson declined to elaborate.
Acting Executive Director Ron Ochrym laid out a list of concerns during a recent meeting, including questions about online and mobile wagering. The existing law seems to lay out a clear prohibition, but regulators see room for interpretation. Ochrym also mentioned data rights as a lingering issue, a possible sign that the professional sports leagues are still lobbying for inclusion.
For that matter, it’s not even clear if the commission would approve a DraftKings-branded platform. Some states like Pennsylvania require a sportsbook to bear the property’s name. If that is the case, DraftKings could be in trouble. Determining the implementation of these so-called “skins” is also among the items on its to-do list.
Del Lago sports betting looks like an underdog for this year, but lawmakers should help move things ahead when they return to session in 2019.