How FanDuel Became The Early King Of Sports Betting At Virginia Sportsbooks

Written By Dann Stupp on April 27, 2021Last Updated on June 1, 2021
With a key partnership and a big pocketbook, FanDuel Sportsbook has taken the crown as the early king of Virginia sports betting.

With a key partnership and a big pocketbook, FanDuel has taken the crown as the early king of Virginia sports betting.

Through the first two-plus months of legal wagering at Virginia sportsbooks, FanDuel has processed more than half of the market’s sports betting handle.

Virginia Lottery officials recently discussed the burgeoning sports-betting market as part of a virtual meeting and presentation to the Lottery Board.

In all, Virginians wagered $628.7 million from the market launch on Jan. 21 through the end of March. And FanDuel has accounted for 53% of those bets. Its chief rival, DraftKings, was a distant second with 24%.

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FanDuel leverages WFT partnership

FanDuel launched in conjunction with the Washington Football Team on Jan. 21. With that debut, Old Dominion became the 19th state (plus Washington, DC) to have an operational sports-betting market.

Since then, the Virginia Lottery has issued permits to 10 sportsbook operators in all, and six are now taking bets.

However, FanDuel got a crucial head start because of its relationship with the NFL’s Washington franchise, whose headquarters are in Virginia. That prompted the VA Lottery to give “substantial and preferred consideration,” as Virginia sports-betting legislation spells out regarding VA-based professional sports franchises.

The second VA sportsbook, DraftKings, launched on Jan. 23. It was followed by BetMGM (Jan. 27), BetRivers (Jan. 27), William Hill (Feb. 2) and WynnBET (March 11).

Here’s a look at the Virginia sports-betting handle by operator (Jan. 21-March 31):

In its monthly revenue reports, the VA Lotto doesn’t break down betting handle by operator. Therefore, we may need to wait for these Virginia Lottery Board meetings to get our next update.

Virginians snag millions of dollars in bonuses

Virginia hasn’t yet garnered the type of tax revenue that voters were promised. However, it’ll likely come in time.

As with any new sports betting market, sportsbooks’ chief priority is signing up new players. And they spend heavily to acquire these first-time customers.

For example, even before its official launch, FanDuel promised new customers a $100 sign-up bonus (no deposit needed). Once the sportsbook went live in VA on Jan. 21, those players already had $100 in bets to place.

So, perhaps not surprisingly, FanDuel has heavily outspent its competition. Among the $30 million in promos that VA sportsbooks handed out, FanDuel was also the leader in that category, with nearly $13 million spent:

  • FanDuel: 43% ($12.9 million)
  • DraftKings: 23% ($6.9 million)
  • William Hill: 20% ($6 million)
  • BetMGM: 10% ($3 million)
  • BetRivers: 3% ($900,000)
  • WynnBET: 1% ($300,000)

In all, from launch through the end of March, Virginia sportsbooks paid $1.5 million in taxes. However, taxes are paid on adjusted gross revenue. AGR is defined as total wagers minus total winnings and other authorized expenses, namely the value of player bonuses and other customer-acquisition promotions.

FanDuel gets creative with promotions

Speaking of promotions, FanDuel has been at the front of the Virginia pack with some creative options.

Sure, FanDuel has plastered much of the commonwealth with billboard, TV, radio and other advertisements. So, too, have the other sportsbooks. They all offer initial deposit bonuses of hundreds and even thousands of dollars.

But to cut through that clutter, FanDuel has also used some tried-and-true betting promos.

During the Virginia Lottery Board meeting, officials said that more than half of Virginia sports-betting wagers have been on NCAA and NBA games. FanDuel has tapped into that interest with, among other promotions:

  • Risk-free $1,000 bet for first-time depositors
  • Spread the Love for Washington Wizards games
  • Spread the Love for the 2021 NCAA March Madness Tournament
  • Refer-a-friend bonuses, $5 Dinger Tuesdays, parlay insurance and others

FanDuel also has a robust menu of betting options. From major leagues (NFL, MLB, NBA) to more niche organizations (PGA Tour, National Rugby League, WNBA), FanDuel has taken bets on them all.

In all, that combination of early market access, big promotional spend, creative betting promos and a wide array of betting options have given FanDuel a rightful spot atop its Virginia sports-betting throne.

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Dann Stupp

Dann Stupp is a longtime sports journalist who’s written and edited for The Athletic, USA Today, ESPN, and other outlets. He lives in Lexington, Virginia.

View all posts by Dann Stupp