FanDuel on Wednesday announced it had successfully completed a soft launch of a wallet system that allows its bettors to place online sports betting wagers and online horse racing wagers from the same account.
The Flutter Entertainment brand is the first American operator to have such a capability. It had been expected since FanDuel and Churchill Downs Incorporated announced a partnership in September. That deal gave FanDuel rights to CDI content and made it a non-exclusive sports betting sponsor for the Kentucky Derby.
Before the horses break from the starting gate at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May, FanDuel users in at least nine states will be able to make parimutuel wagers on the race through FanDuel’s sportsbook.
The moves are an effort to “introduce a new generation of audiences to horse racing,” FanDuel said in a release.
Horse racing is a big part of our DNA” said Amy Howe the CEO of FanDuel Group. “This is a significant opportunity to expose a broader, engaged audience to the sport in a familiar environment.”
Besides the Churchill deal, FanDuel earlier this year also rebranded Flutter-owned TVG, a network that showcased horse racing around the clock, into FanDuel TV. While FanDuel has expanded the network’s coverage into other sports, racing remains a key component of its daily broadcasts. The network’s broadcast coverage includes races from several major tracks, including Churchill, Del Mar, Gulfstream Park, Keeneland, and Santa Anita.
Where It’s Available
For now, what FanDuel calls a “merged wallet/single account” is available to users in Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, New York, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
The company does plan to add more states in 2023.
In addition to wagering on the races, bettors will be able to watch them on the app.
As one of the leading operators in the US, FanDuel introducing racing to online sports bettors who wager on other sports could help create a new revenue source for a sport that saw its best yearly handle totals two decades ago. In 2021, US tracks reported a total handle of $12.2 billion, their best year since 2009. But that handle still falls nearly $3 billion short from what bettors wagered in 2003.
As FanDuel and other sportsbooks (more on that in a moment) expand into racing, it should also help boost the handles for major events like the Derby and other Triple Crown races. This year, bettors wagered a record $179 million on the Run for the Roses. With more bettors having access to the race, that figure may go up significantly next year.
As FanDuel promotes its new feature, it also will provide some bettor education on pari-mutuel wagering. That will be critical in order to retain a new audience that’s accustomed to fixed-odds wagering on other events.
DraftKings, PointsBet Making Moves, Too
As noted above, FanDuel’s not the only sportsbook looking to expand into horse racing.
DraftKings, FanDuel’s primary rival, also has deal with Churchill Downs to create an advanced deposit wagering (ADW) platform for racing. However, that deal does not include – for now – immediate plans to offer races directly on DraftKings’ sportsbook.
PointsBet also has a deal in place with 1/ST Racing, whose tracks include Pimlico Race Course, Santa Anita, and Gulfstream. Under terms of that agreement, PointsBet expects to integrate an ADW into its online sportsbook where its licensed.
While some argue that racing is a slowly dying sport, the interest in it from sportsbooks is a natural one. With tracks around the world, horse racing can provide sportsbooks with round-the-clock content and new events that happen every few minutes.
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