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DraftKings Sportsbook launched in New Jersey on August 6, 2018 after a soft launch period, becoming the first sportsbook to go live in NJ and the first legal online sportsbook in the U.S. outside Nevada. It’s available on apps for both Android and iOS devices (Apple) and also as a web-based platform. It’s legal and licensed, operating through its partnership with Resorts Casino in Atlantic City, where it also now operates a brick-and-mortar sportsbook.
After spending a lot of time using the mobile app and web platform, Sports Handle submits that the product is good according to our criteria explained in greater detail below. Overall, we grade the sportsbook a B. Meaning it’s pretty decent but has some key deficiencies and areas for improvement, particularly in its pricing, as explained below.
Bonus/welcome package for new customers
The first to market in New Jersey, DraftKings set the bar for bonus and welcome packages in the NJ online sports betting market, offering a generous free bet offer in the amount of up to $500. It’s available to both new registrants and existing DraftKings DFS account holders.
How the free $500 “match bet” works
As either a new registrant or an existing DraftKings DFS player, first decide how much you want to deposit (details on deposits and withdrawals below). Then, based on the amount of your first wager, you will receive a credit or “free bet”equal to that amount.
Your wager can be on anything — a game spread, total, moneyline, prop, etc., for any sport on the board. So let’s say you take the Warriors -11.5 for $300, you will receive a credit in your account for the $300 free bet. It should be displayed under “free bets” under “my account.” If you wagered $500 on your first bet, the free bet credit will be in the amount of $500. If you wagered $525 or $750, the free bet, will still be for $500 because the offer is for up to $500 and not more than that.
DraftKings has offered the option to break down the free bet into smaller increments; suppose you earned the full $500 free match bet, you may have the option to divide into thirds ($166.67) or quarters ($125) to make separate bonus bets in these increments.
Important! The free bet expires after 30 days. So be mindful of the sports betting season. If you’re reading this during the winter months and you like betting on basketball and football, great. You’ll have plenty of options and opportunities to evaluate the right play on another basketball or football game.
When it comes time for you to put the free bet in play, select a bet and from your bet slip and choose to fund it with your bonus bet. If you have elected to split your bonus into halves or otherwise, you should have the option to apply that increment rather the entirety of your bonus. Also keep in mind that if you win your free bet, only the winnings are retrievable. In other words, if you wager the $500 free bet at a -110 vig to win $454, you’ll scoop $454 into the account after the score, not $954.
DraftKings NJ sportsbook basics: Registering, game formats, software
For starters, you must be located in New Jersey to use any version of the sportsbook (pending DraftKings’ official online launches into other states, which is forthcoming). NJ requires that DraftKings Sportsbook (and others) use geolocation (geo-tracking) technology to make sure players are in the state. You must also be 21 years old to use legal NJ sportsbooks.
The DraftKings Sportsbook offers a robust menu of sports betting options — for the most part, similar kinds of wagering as in other legal U.S. sports betting states, with some added creativity:
- Live and in-game wagering (sides, totals, player props, first to 10 points, etc.)
- Moneyline wagers
- Spreads and totals (fixed odds on team and game totals, quarters, halves, etc.)
- Alternate spreads and totals
- Props: player, team and scoring props: for example, “which player scores the most points in this game”
- Futures: such as who will win the World Series, NBA MVP, over/under NFL win totals
- Bets on daily fantasy sports production: for example, the Chiefs tight end’s DFS points for a certain NFL week: over/under 14.5)
- Entertainment: Academy Awards, possibly others coming
Overall it’s a good/decent selection and by our estimation was designed to be mobile-first, with the web platform a second priority. For those who have used the DraftKings app for daily fantasy sports, the look and feel will be quite similar. Stability-wise, it’s mostly good, but we’ve encountered a fair amount of instances of page unresponsiveness and crash outs.
Upon login, you’ll see promotional banners at the top of the screen and the more popular events down the center. There’s ample but not an overwhelming amount of displays and information on the screen.
The platform has clear displays and tabs, and utilizes white and neon green text for prices fixed on a black background. The font is adequately sized (mileage on your eyes may vary), but there are some navigation and organization issues. DraftKings uses the U.K.-based Kambi Sports for its software, pricing, trading, and risk management. (Play SugarHouse and 888sport also use Kambi).
DraftKings online sportsbook mobile app: B
- Availability: The app is available on both semi-modern to modern Android and iOS devices.
- Speed: Pretty fast, with rotation or toggling between windows and fields speedy and seamless.
- Stability: It’s mostly smooth sailing, although we’ve encountered some “DraftKings isn’t responding” displays here and there. The geolocation does fail on occasion (best to use WiFi), and it’s annoying that you have to log in to view the lines.
- View: No clutter complaints as there are displays and information on the screen that shouldn’t block navigation or your ability to get down a bet. You’ll notice there’s some online casino integration, which isn’t our cup of tea during sports mode, but if you want to jump over to blackjack while you’re in there, it’s a button away.
- What we don’t like: This isn’t exactly an aesthetically pleasing app. The white and neon green text on a black background comes off as ugly and antiquated.
- Navigation: On the navigational front, we don’t love having to swipe back and forth under “Quick Links” at the top. It’s a nitpick, but would simply prefer a vertical dropdown bar where everything is more easily accessible and visible.
- Bet Slip: Regarding the placement of bets, when you click a potential wager (such as “KC Chiefs +3”), you’ll get a prompt to enter a wager amount (with pre-sets amounts of $1, $5 or $20). Based on the odds and your wager, it will calculate and show you the potential win amount (with the stake included). The bet slip screen will also give you the option to “create parlay or add more bets.” If that’s what you want to do, hit it and you’ll go back to the menu of potential bets.
- More on the Bet Slip: At this stage in the bet slip, whether you’ve got one pick or several, you’re basically at the register at the grocery store. You’ve got them in the cart but haven’t committed to anything yet. If it looks good, hit the green bar “place bet” and that’s it.
- In-game: The in-game live odds functionality is nice. When the odds get updated, during gameplay, breaks or otherwise, the newest price or line flashes so you can easily detect the movement. If the line/odds change when you’ve got a pick in your bet slip, you will get a notice that “selection odds have changed.” And the app will display the latest odds. From there you can “accept changes and place bet” or move along.
- Funding an account: Multiple cashiering options are available, but did DraftKings have to bury the withdrawal option so deep?
In short, the app may not be the prettiest, and we did experience our share of stability hiccups, but the overall functionality is serviceable enough, the bet slip is easy to use, and the app is chock full of account management features.
Web-based platform: B+
All the same bets and tools are available on the web as on the app. One key difference and convenience, in our opinion, is that you can view the entire bet slip while navigating the book itself. And of course, you can keep up other windows, screens, calculators, spreadsheets, and fast food delivery menus open for optimal multitasking.
The bet slip will remain on the right of the page at most times — depending on the size of the browser window you’re using. If it’s scrunched, the bet slip may get shoved to near the bottom of the screen, indicated by a white bar. Click that and your slip will pull back up, or drag your browser window wide again and it will move back right. Or just click “my bets” at the top to see it.
Assuming you’re hooked up to a working connection, the pages move quickly with only occasional, very minor lagging. Another small advantage of the web platform the ability to easily switch between the DFS portion of the site and the sportsbook. On your phone, you’ll need to have two separate apps. Only takes one click to go back-and-forth between them on the web.
Our biggest gripe with the web platform is navigation. As you can see from the screencap above, the layout relies on a lot of sub-menus and they aren’t organized consistently, nor is it always obvious what markets you’re going to see in certain areas, based on the labels such as “game props” or “innings,” for example. If you’re looking to bet on which team wins the first 5 innings, are you positive where to go?
And rather than filing all of one separate game’s props, sides, and alternative lines into one window/screen, you have to go to one of the various menus or sub-menus where all the games for that league are grouped together. We’d love to have the option to see all the bets for a single game housed under one roof.
During Super Bowl LIII, it was a disaster trying to find desired props amongst a sea of menus and sub-menus, and no search term bar to sift through. In one word: sloppy organization. This is a theme at Kambi-run sportsbooks that we’ve examined.
Pricing and betting options at DraftKings NJ: C
Just about everything you could want from popular sports in the U.S., or at least all the options that New Jersey regulators will allow. You’ll have to look elsewhere for bowling or cock fighting. But poke around and you’ll probably find what you want or perhaps a spicy option you weren’t looking for.
Key markets offered:
- Rugby Union
For props and futures, DK Sportsbook offers a truckload of different futures and team/player prop bets, both pre-game and in-game, particularly on the most popular U.S. sports and leagues, namely NFL, MLB, NCAA men’s college football and basketball. Many of them are what you’ll find elsewhere — MVPs, champions, season total O/U — while some are pretty creative and not available elsewhere.
Just a small sampling:
- Baseball: what will be the result of the next at-bat: hit, walk, strikeout, home run, etc.?
- Basketball: what will the next field goal be? Two-pointer or three-pointer?
- Basketball or football: Race to 10 points in every quarter (which team scores 10 first)
- Football: over/under player’s receiving yards for season?
- Football: last NFL team to lose a game (regular season)?
- Hockey: who will score the next goal — team or player?
- MMA: the fight will end with a submission in the third round?
Like most of the legal NJ online sportsbooks, DraftKings regularly offers/promotes different “odds boosts” for higher-profile or nationally televised games/events. Typically the offers are for prop bets, such as “Saquon Barkley to score first touchdown” in a Giants game, and they might boost from +150 to +200. Another example:
The King returns to The Land, so of course we have LeBron-specific odds boosts.
Score 29.5+ points & win (+115 ➡ +145)
Triple-double (+650 ➡ +780)
Make three 3-pt FGs (+115 ➡ +140)
Score first FG of game (+400 ➡ +480)
Miss 2+ FT in the 4th (+600 ➡ +720) pic.twitter.com/fRlCNWFdBR
— DraftKings Sportsbook (@DKSportsbook) November 21, 2018
We can’t definitively say if the odds in the past were what they say they were, but they appear to be in the right range. These boosts are nice, but generally the offers are on wagers that aren’t great bets for the long-term and by that we mean EV+ bets that will sustain profitability. That said, if these are bets you might have grabbed anyways or simply want the entertainment, have at it.
One last note on correlation parlays: You can’t make “correlation” parlays or teasers. In other words, you can’t parlay or tease sides/totals in the same game. This limitation has appeared at the other sportsbooks we’ve examined, so it’s not unique to DraftKings. That said, DraftKings posts/offer lots of homemade “game parlays,” combining same game sides and totals. However, the prices offered are typically a bit below what you would get if you could parlay them as separate units. Also, the lines in these homemade editions might be skewed a bit.
Why a correlation parlay? If your theory of the game or analysis tells you that underdog Team A’s defense will stifle Team B’s offense, you may want to parlay Team and the Under. If your theory is right, bada-bing.
It’s a real mixed bag here.
In the days and first several weeks after launch, during baseball season, DraftKings faced a lot of criticism over its pricing. The prices were high and well above industry norms. For example on baseball sides, rather than lines with 10, 15 or 20-cents total (i.e. -110 both sides), some lines were in the 30-cent range. Not all, but some.
But before we return to the usually higher pricing that remains the main DraftKings Sportsbook negative, let’s review the good: Their pricing on teasers is top notch.
DK and the other Kambi sportsbooks use what they call “Teaser+” to price teasers in a different way than it’s done traditionally with a static odds table.
Here’s how they explain it (emphasis added):
Teaser+ differs from the traditional teaser due to the fact Kambi’s in-house trading team generates a price based on each individual leg of a player’s chosen parlay. Traditionally, parlays have been allocated a predetermined price according to an operator’s static odds table. For instance, a three-team parlay gaining seven points on the spread will be allocated the same odds each time, no matter the identity of the teams involved.
In reinventing the product, Kambi’s Teaser+ format swaps the odds table for its wide range of in-house generated alternative lines, thereby ensuring the teased parlay accurately reflects the players’ selected teams, match factors and related probabilities.
As a result of this more precise and fully automated process, Kambi’s Teaser+ not only gives players the price they would receive if they selected the teased spreads individually, but in almost every instance generates a more generous price when compared to the odds tables used by other operators and suppliers.
We’ve tested the Teaser+ and it’s true — in the vast majority of cases, it results in better prices on teaser bets (regardless of the number of legs).
Here’s one example with a 4-point, two-team teaser, with all legs at each of the three NJ online sportsbooks priced at -110.
DraftKings (at left) came up with +146, and both FanDuel Sportsbook (middle) and playMGM sportsbook (right) at -110, obviously according to static tables for the latter two books.
So if you made the same $10 bet at each, you’d get $14.60 profit from DK, versus $9.10 at the other two books. That’s an incredible difference.
The gap is not always nearly as big, but it’s become clear now unless something changes, you’ll probably find betting teaser pricing at DK compared with competitors. Or at least it’s always worth checking to see what you might get before you look to put in a teaser bet elsewhere.
One caveat, though: to our knowledge, the Teaser+ is not available on games that aren’t completely priced out (with multiple alternative lines), which means you may not be able to use it for some (or a lot of) college basketball or college football games. Or perhaps not until closer until game-time when those do get priced out.
And in the bigger picture, while the teaser pricing is great compared to the competition, sportsbooks across the country have a much higher hold percentage on them — in the 15-30 percent range, versus around 5-6 percent overall. They’re hard to hit, especially when you go beyond two-leg territory. So bet them wisely. It’s a nice attraction that the DK people don’t advertise enough, so you’ll stick around for the frequently terrible pricing on regular single-game sides and totals.
Straight bets pricing:
Contrasting with the teaser/parlay pricing, the moneyline pricing and in a lot of cases the spread pricing is inferior to the competition. The football standard is 20 cents, or -110 on both sides. On DraftKings, often you’ll see something like -117 and -105, or -110 and -112. So that’s 21 or 22 cents. These small numbers add up, and it’s kind of baffling why they simply won’t post -110. Eventually, perhaps, recreational bettors will notice.
Compare the moneyline pricing with other sportsbooks. This pricing is for the Thanksgiving 2018 slate of games. In some cases, depending on the side you want, you could grab a price that compares favorably to a competitor (for example the Redskins at DK vs. FD), but in every single case, the overall pricing is worse, to varying degrees:
For some bets, the pricing is further out of whack. Consider prices on totals for halves for an NFL game. This should be at, again, a combined 20 cents vig, but we’ve seen them between 30 and 34 cents at DK. That’s just egregious.
In-game pricing, based on regular observation in various sports, is likewise almost always worse than the competition’s pricing. Take a look here at in-game pricing during the 2019 NCAA Basketball Tournament Elite Eight game between Virginia and Purdue:
On the same 2.5-point spread, FanDuel has -110 on both sides versus -110 and -121 at DK. DraftKings is charging an extra 10 cents on the game total over. And regardless of which team you may have wanted on the moneyline, you’re getting a worse price at DraftKings.
Discrepancies like this is the norm for DK’s in-game pricing. Govern your bets accordingly.
User experience: B+
Some of the user experience pros and cons are discussed in the mobile app and web sportsbook sections. The main item on both is navigation, which could use a lot of improvement on both platforms. Put simply, it’s unnecessarily difficult to find certain markets at times. The remainder of this section will speak to other points about the DK online sportsbook experience.
One feature we really like is the “stats hub” (available on the top nav bar), which shows player and team stats, betting statistics (ATS on over/under, as favorite/underdog), H2H record, scoring stats, and much more.
This is powered by iSportGenius, and it also offers information on “line moves.” Not as valuable as line movement providers across a multitude of books, but we’ll take more information than less.
iSportGenius also offers a “customizable predictor,” which factors in injuries, ATS trends, home field advantage and more. We truly have no idea what’s the special sauce in their modeling, where the data comes from and so forth, so you may want to refrain from putting much weight into it. That said, it’s a nice feature that warrants some further testing.
One other nice thing — you can set your account so that if a price or line changes while you have it in your bet slip, the system will ask you for approval on the adjustment. That way you aren’t surprised later and if you don’t want to make the bet anymore, you can X it out.
Here’s another positive: by going to account settings, you can set up a “fingerprint login” function or “PIN code” login that’s four digits. Or both, assuming your phone includes fingerprint technology, and both potions are more convenient than using the traditional login/password option.
And one more positive: the “cash out” feature now also available at a bunch of other NJ online sportsbooks. If you check out your “open bets” within “my bets,” you may see an offer to “cash out” your ticket before the game/event/prop has been decided. We can provide one such example of an offer (made prior to the Rams’ 54-51 victory over the Chiefs) on a ticket for the Rams to win the NFC West — a wager made in August.
Why the offer? Because you’re being offered less than the implied odds of your bet winning. For example, the likelihood of the Rams winning the division at the time of that offer (above) was about 98.7%, and they were offering about 82% of the potential $100 winnings. Professional bettors would never, ever take that (nor would or did we), but there may be instances where you may believe that circumstances have changed and you don’t love the chances of your bet hitting anymore. Perhaps you’re getting close to the implied odds and you just want the liquidity. Surely some people will take that. It’s a creative option but one you should examine carefully in each particular situation.
We have seen these cash out offers available both pre-game (if it’s a future bet) and in-game on straight or moneyline bets, updated pretty regularly based on the flow of the game.
Overall, pretty good support and service. DraftKings representatives are available to chat and troubleshoot 24/7 — on both the app and web. Go to your account and look for the chat window in the bottom or at right.
You can also email them anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org, and usually will get a prompt response, and you can continue the conversation via email. Alternatively, you can send a message using the form on the help page.
You can’t actually call a number to get help, unfortunately, but you can fill out a form to request/receive a call. FAQ, rules & scoring and “how to play” pages are also available.
Limits, approvals and “sharp action”
Kambi/British/European sportsbooks have a reputation for evading sharp action and being very risk-averse. The primary reviewer here had his own experience with getting a relatively small bet flagged for approval.
I attempted to make a silly Nat'l Champ bet at @DKSportsbook on TTU's Davide Moretti to win FF most outstanding player at 25-1.
I was "pre-approved" to bet $12.82 and opted to send the other $7.18 to for "approval."
After a minute, the entire $20 whale bet went through. pic.twitter.com/9d1LxhODHB
— Brett Smiley (@brettsmiley) April 8, 2019
It appears the “win limit” flag in the above instance was set around $320, so the bet win up to that amount went through, the rest needing approval. Limits vary from book to book, and in-game and prop/futures limits can often be smaller. But it seems that these stoppages for approval, which is no guarantee to get approved, is fairly common at Kambi-books, which are numerous in Pennsylvania.
Some bettors may also get their accounts “profiled,” particularly if your bets are performing well against the closing number, which is one way sportsbooks monitor their clientele. No clue if that’s what happened here, but it’s not a good feeling to have a $20 wager with just a $500 max win scrutinized like this.
Wager and transaction history
This is a very highly visited area at sportsbooks so it’s important to get it right.
Under “transaction history” or “account statement transactions” within “account information” you can view a ledger of bets over a desired time period. However, in this area, the ledger doesn’t indicate the actual bet made, just the date, bet amount and balance after. Also you can’t get a profit/loss figure generated over that span. So you will have to manually calculate settled bets, which pros will do but is laborious. We hope to see DraftKings upgrade their functionality in this area.
If you go to “my bets” you can see the full information, including what the bet actually was. That’s viewable only as a scroll. Ideally, we’d like to see a tool to show profit/loss over a particular span. This should not be terribly difficult to implement.
You can also contact customer support to request a complete transaction history in the form of an excel file. We made this request and received it promptly, however, the file doesn’t indicate the actual bet (for example, Patriots -6.5, just the transaction number). It’s useful to calculate total credit and debit amounts, but it would be nice to have the full picture in one place.
Promotions and loyalty program
DraftKings has been aggressive offering a variety of promotions across all sports. Examples have included:
“Profit boosts” for NHL overtime winnings: opt-in and place a money line bet on any NHL playoff game and if your team wins in overtime, DK will double your winnings as a free bet (up to $25).
“MLB money back 9th inning insurance”: place a pre-game singles money line bet on any MLB game and if your team is leading into the 9th but then loses the game, they’ll refund your bet as a free bet up to $50.
“NBA playoffs 35+ points double winnings”: opt-in and place a money line bet on any NBA Playoff games, and if one of your team’s players scores 35+ points helping the team towards a big win, DK will double your winnings as a free bet (up to $25).
As of present, the DraftKings Sportsbook does not offer a player rewards system. We probably will see this in the future, possibly resembling the DFS Crowns, which add up based on dollar participation in real-money contests. Players can use crowns for tickets into contests and merchandise. For sports betting, loyalty points probably would come in the form of free bets.
Deposits and withdrawals: A-
The current complement of options for depositing:
- Bank transfer — log into your bank online and process transactions
- Play prepaid cards
- Visa/Mastercard which may work for DFS but may get rejected for sportsbook deposits, depending on the bank issuing the card
Your options for withdrawing:
- Bank Transfer (ACH)
- Withdrawal at the casino cage — depending on your state and DraftKings’ relationship with the licensed casino. In New Jersey, you can redeem funds at the physical cage in the Resorts Casino in Atlantic City.
We’ve deposited with PayPal and ACH and withdrew funds through both, which in both cases hit the accounts in under 48 hours. We’ve been using DraftKings DFS games since 2013 and have never encountered a problem making a withdrawal or deposit.
DraftKings deposit/withdrawal options overall are pretty good, safe and reliable, on par or favorable to the competition’s option.
What’s next for DraftKings Sportsbook NJ?
DraftKings is looking for an entry into Pennsylvania, which allows only one skin per licensee. The company has partnered with entertainment/gaming giant Caesars Entertainment, a deal designed to give DraftKings Sportsbook access and a chance to compete in various jurisdictions where Caesars operations hotel/casinos, which are numerous, in such states as Illinois and Ohio.
DK Sportsbook has a physical shop in Mississippi and a deal to go online in West Virginia. They are busy lobbying and activating players to encourage legislation, particularly in Massachusetts, where the company is headquartered. They will be a big player across the U.S., and also an innovator. Just look at its high-stakes contest, DraftKings Sports Betting National Championship.
Follow along at @sports_handle for the latest news.