Needing only five months after the launch of its first legal sportsbooks in the state, Virginia became the fastest state in the post-PASPA era to reach $1 billion in handle. And according to data obtained by Sports Handle via a Freedom of Information Act filing, almost exactly half of the entire betting volume came via FanDuel Sportsbook alone, which also leveraged that into 63% of the combined adjusted gross revenue among sportsbooks currently active in the state.
Through the 4½ months of live operations in Virginia from January through May, FanDuel generated a whopping $542.7 million handle and $21.7 million in gross revenue after adjusting for promotional play and other deductions. That’s nearly double DraftKings’ $280.9 million in handle over that period, and quadruple DraftKings’ revenue of $5.4 million. BetMGM, though it accepted more than $100 million less in wagers, held nearly 10% of bets, versus 5.9% for DraftKings, which enabled BetMGM to slide in at second in revenue with $9.8 million.
Here’s the full breakdown for the seven active operators in the state. Note that the three leaders (in handle, at least) launched during the NFL playoffs and also prior to March Madness:
|Launch Date||Handle||Payouts||Hold %||Promotional & Other Deductions||Adjusted Gross Revenue|
|FanDuel||Jan. 21, 2021||$542,713,809||$498,679,139||8.1%||$22,325160||$21,709,509|
|DraftKings||Jan 24. 2021||$280,924,340||$264,357,346||5.9%||$11,126,029||$5,440,964
|BetMGM||Jan. 27, 2021||$172,119,369||$155,244,835||9.9%||$7,035,496||$9,839,036|
|BetRivers||Jan. 27, 2021||$11,859,098||$10,741,440||9.5%||$1,515,792||-$398,134|
|William Hill (Caesars)||Feb. 3, 2021||$79,361,887||$73,401,250||7.5%||$7,852,384||-$1,891,747|
|WynnBET||Mar. 12, 2021||$3,099,894||$2,657,059||14.3%||$385,478||$57,356|
|Unibet||Apr. 28, 2021||$2,058,911||$2,041,538||1%||$353,185||-$335,812|
FanDuel’s domination in the state is attributable at least in part to good timing and a strategic partnership with the Washington Football Team. Securing market access in conjunction with the WFT (according to undisclosed terms) afforded FanDuel the opportunity to get a three-day head start on DraftKings, and about a one-week jump on BetMGM and BetRivers.
In January, the Virginia Lottery, tasked with regulatory authority over legal sports betting in the state, said FanDuel was “granted ‘substantial and preferred consideration’ by the Virginia General Assembly.”
This is a reference to provisions in the enabling legislation that advise the agency to give such treatment to professional sports organizations headquartered in the Commonwealth “that remitted personal state income tax withholdings based on taxable wages in the Commonwealth in excess of $200 million for the 2019 taxable year,” which WFT did. Casinos making capital investments of at least $250 million also earn preferential treatment under the law, a boon for Rush Street Gaming, which the city of Portsmouth selected to construct and operate a new casino in its borders; Rush Street’s BetRivers Sportsbook launched on Jan. 27 alongside BetMGM.
Not just any three-day head start
The timing was such that FanDuel Sportsbook was the only legal sportsbook show in town for the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday ahead of the NFL’s Conference Championship weekend, when NBA and NHL were also in full swing. In other words, FanDuel had about 72 hours to bring bettors and bankrolls aboard before DraftKings got the green light to enter the highway. As we have seen in other markets, first-mover advantage has proven quite valuable.
Nationally, FanDuel’s sports betting market share is approximately 36% against DraftKings’ 25%, according to Gambling Compliance. Comparatively, the action in Virginia so far is much more lopsided in favor of FanDuel, although the competition leveled out a bit in April and May, two slower sports betting months after March Madness wraps and makes way for Major League Baseball.
Here are complete figures for January through May for the each of the three leaders:
FanDuel Sportsbook: Virginia
|Adjusted Gross Revenue||-$3,318,667.92||-$1,367,331.04||$8,338,636.75||$6,896,279.69||$11,160,591.75||$21,709,509.23|
BetMGM Sportsbook: Virginia
|Adjusted Gross Revenue||$264,735.37||$2,003,959.41||$2,398,109.06||$2,713,006.86||$2,459,226.21||$9,839,036.91|
DraftKings Sportsbook: Virginia
|Adjusted Gross Revenue||-$158,765.22||-$1,476,677.15||$3,474,900.79||$1,377,890.03||$2,223,616.25||$5,440,964.70|
As is customary under regulations in most states, sportsbooks are permitted to deduct as non-taxable revenue a percentage of bonus or promotional dollars used to incentivize users to sign up. Sportsbooks offer a variety of these promotional bets, and some sportsbooks are much more giving with these bonus dollars than others. FanDuel and DraftKings have proven among the most aggressive.
The Virginia Lottery is expected to release its June sports betting figures in the coming days, albeit in aggregate form without the individual operator breakdown presented here.
Losses off the podium
You may have noticed the minus signs before the AGR posted by three of the seven sportsbooks that became active in the measured period: BetRivers, William Hill (Caesars), and Unibet. William Hill led the pack that entered the red after deductions, with losses of $1.8 million.
In terms of betting volume, William Hill actually fared well compared to its national average in online market share, which is about 4% in New Jersey and Michigan, for example. William Hill, which has announced that it will be sunsetting that brand name in favor of Caesars, owner of William Hill US, out-handled BetRivers by an order of seven, despite launching a week later, shortly before the Super Bowl on Feb. 7; William Hill also spent healthily in the promotional department, actually about $800,000 more than BetMGM, which handled about $100 million more, held a slightly higher clip of wagers, and nearly pulled in $10 million over the five-month stretch.
None of this necessarily forecasts what the 2021 NFL and college football seasons will deliver for the sportsbooks beginning in late August. The name of the game right now is acquisition, and William Hill did a lot of that in these early days. (So did FanDuel, DraftKings, and BetMGM, of course.)
More competitors are on the way, including Barstool Sportsbook, Bally’s Bet, and Golden Nugget, which all gained temporary permits in March but have yet to launch.