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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

NFL Season Start Heightens Sportsbook Battle For Customers

  • Sportsbooks get aggressive with promotions to attract new bettors
  • Arrival of Fanatics Sportsbook, ESPN Bet to alter market dynamics
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The start of the new NFL season brings some big changes — perhaps most notably a new urgency for sportsbooks to attract new customers.

NFL-related betting is projected to soar this season to unprecedented levels — creating both opportunity and concerns for the league — and leading sportsbooks are elevating their promotional efforts to win those incoming bettors.

FanDuel has increased its signup bonus from last year’s $150 to $200 in return for a $5 NFL bet, and it’s also giving existing customers a $100 discount on an NFL Sunday Ticket subscription on YouTube. That new total matches the $200 bonus for a similar $5 bet on offer from DraftKings.

But those market leaders, which hold a duopoly on the current sports betting market, are also facing fresh challenges from Fanatics — which is offering $150 in merchandise credit for a $50 bet — along with the forthcoming ESPN Bet.

The arrival of the heavily backed Fanatics and ESPN Bet presents perhaps the greatest threats to the established market leaders since the landmark 2018 U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing states to set their own gambling laws. 

Other prominent incumbents include Caesars, offering $250 in bonuses for a $50 bet, and BetMGM, which is offering a dollar-for-dollar refund in bonuses for losing initial bets up to $1,500.

“This is the most important time of the year,” said Jason Robins, DraftKings CEO, chair, and co-founder. “This is when we acquire the most customers, when we have the biggest opportunity to gain more market share, and when we generate the most revenue and the most [earnings].”

Fanatics’ promotional effort extends its stated plan to lean into an existing database of more than 95 million customers following its acquisition of PointsBet’s U.S. operations. 

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