Daily fantasy sports (DFS) has been a popular game in Pennsylvania for a few years now, even though its legal status lay in limbo for most of that time.
That all changed in October 2017 when the state moved forward with legalizing and regulating DFS as a part of broader PA gambling expansion initiative that included the authorization of various forms of online gambling.
The first legal and regulated fantasy sports contest ran in PA in May 2018.
PA DFS revenue numbers
Ahead of the NFL season, the first four months of legal and regulated DFS in the state have seen operators average around $1 million in revenue.
Handle numbers are a bit more impressive looking. DFS operator revenue is typically 10 percent of gross revenue. That means Pennsylvania DFS players spent approximately $10 million a month on DFS contests in the first four months of legal and regulated DFS in PA.
Of course, those four months represent a bit of a dead patch for pro sports. The NFL returned in September, plus the NBA and NHL come back in October. As a result, DFS numbers in the state should pick up substantially.
Pennsylvania has 13 million residents, making it the sixth-most populous state in the country. Plus, it’s a hotbed for pro sports. As a result, the state is estimated to represent close to four percent of the national DFS market. That puts Pennsylvania among the top ten DFS states.
PA approved DFS operators
The state lists nine approved DFS operators, but at least a couple haven’t posted any revenue just yet. That means they’re not running contests just yet, and with names like Fantasy Football Players Championship, it’s easy to see why.
Things will change come the start of football season, but regardless, small football-only DFS operators are bound to have difficulty competing with the industry’s national and year-round big boys. These two operators headline the list of the top five regulated DFS options in PA:
DraftKings and FanDuel
New York-based FanDuel launched in 2009 and Boston-based DraftKings began operations three years later, in 2012. Since that time, the pair has helped grow the US DFS market to new heights and dominated it completely.
In 2016, the two companies sought to merge, but the merger was blocked by the Federal Trade Commission a year later. Mostly because a single FanDuel-DraftKings entity would have been left with control of 90 percent of the US DFS market.
FanDuel and DraftKings’ control of the PA market right out of the gate has proved even stronger. In fact, in May 2018, FanDuel and DraftKings represented 97 percent of statewide DFS revenue. FanDuel and DraftKings combined to post $1,305,022.56 in revenue. The rest of the market only posted a combined $26,683.78.
The domination has held through August, where FanDuel and DraftKings represented 98 percent of statewide DFS revenue. Together, the two operators posted $926,511.11 in revenue throughout the month. Other operators posted under $18,000 combined.
In terms of competition between the two, FanDuel led the revenue race in the first month and DraftKings has taken it for the past three. Overall, the pair sits close to even. However, with combine numbers showing control of almost 100 percent of the PA DFS market, it’s clear these two represent the top two regulated DFS options in PA by a huge margin.
A heads-up comparison
A heads-up comparison between the two reveals DraftKings offers a wider variety of sports, with MMA and eSports not available on FanDuel.
The software platforms are virtually identical. The difference between the two really boils down to personal preference.
Both are also quickly moving into the legal sports betting market, launching mobile sportsbooks in New Jersey and eyeing other markets, including PA.
These days, DraftKings does offer more in terms of guaranteed prize pools. That probably gives it the slight edge as the most attractive option for players in PA.
The race for third-place in the PA DFS market is currently being led by DRAFT. New York-based DRAFT has been averaging around $10,000 a month in revenue in PA since launch.
DRAFT presents itself as an alternative to DraftKings and FanDuel by focusing more on head-to-head action as opposed to the huge multi-entry tournaments the other sites offer.
FantasyDraft is really the only other DFS operator that has consistently posted four-figure revenue numbers in PA since the legal and regulated market launched.
The Charlotte, North Carolina-based operator promises to put players first. It does so by:
- Paying out a minimum of 25 percent of players in all paid contests
- Offering lower contest fees and rake
- Capping fields by limiting the number of lineups players can enter
- Providing a lucrative player referral program
Yahoo Fantasy Sports
Yahoo Fantasy Sports makes the list of the top five regulated DFS options in PA for two reasons. The first is the fact it is one of the only remaining approved DFS operators in the state that has posted over $1,000 in revenue in a single month. The second is name recognition, as this operator is associated with one of the early pioneers of the internet.
The truth is that Yahoo is probably better known as a place for DFS research than DFS contests. However, the total package available here makes Yahoo Fantasy Sports one of the top five regulated DFS options in PA.