DraftKings Just Had What Could Have Been Its Biggest Weekend Ever

Seven-figure GPPs that filled, PayPal in the sportsbook, and a 1 millionth bet: DraftKings has a weekend to remember.
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To the surprise of no one, NFL Week 1 is high time for daily fantasy sports operators. Well, at least it is for those that have actually found a material amount of success in the space, of which there are exactly two: FanDuel and DraftKings.

But this NFL kickoff weekend was just a wee bit different, and undoubtedly better, for DFS market share leader DraftKings, thanks primarily to its venture into the NJ sports betting arena. Launched just over a month ago, DraftKings Sportsbook was already doing a ton of volume, before NFL began, and before it became significantly easier to place a bet on the site thanks to a recent expansion of its cashier.

The marriage of these two events, alongside some big risks that paid off on the DFS side, made for what might have been DraftKings’ biggest weekend in its six-year history. And that could just be the tip of the iceberg.

Fill ‘er up

DraftKings is known to be more aggressive than its rival FanDuel, and this aggressiveness was on full display from its DFS lobby this weekend, as the operator offered three separate seven-figure guaranteed prize pools (GPPs), with entry fees ranging from just $3 to $20, and prize pools topping out at a cool $5 million.

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Admittedly, it was just a few years ago that a $10 million GPP was par for the course during NFL Week 1, but this is a different DraftKings; one that has endured an array of legal difficulties, and one that has made a swift transition from unregulated to regulated in many states, but is still absent in some key markets such as Nevada. Furthermore, advertising is down, mass multi-entries are less of a thing, and the novelty of DFS has somewhat faded. So for the DraftKings of 2018, a $5 million GPP is aggressive.

On Sunday, DraftKings proved that there was still a strong enough appetite for the format, however, as its NFL $5 Million Roman Fantasy Football Millionaire filled up at the last minute, drawing 294.1k entries. The NFL $2M Play-Action also made the grade, drawing an astounding 792.7k entries, with each one costing just $3.

The filling of these events signals a bright outlook for the operator’s 2018-19 season, one which will culminate in the $10 Million 2018 Fantasy Football World Championships at Ft. Lauderdale on December 16.

The operator is hardly taking the foot of the pedal, with a $1,111,111 GPP scheduled for tonight’s Monday Night Football slate, and a $4.6 million GPP scheduled for next Sunday, along with two other seven-figure GPPs.

PayPal now a thing

Literally hours before the 1 p.m. NFL games, DraftKings announced that it has gone live with PayPal payment processing. The payment method, which now services over 250 million, will provide players with a trusted and viable alternative to the book’s limited depositing options, which before Sunday only included credit/debit card (declined at an approximate 50% rate) and bank transfers via checking accounts.

As much of a boost as PayPal provides on the depositing side, its impact is even more felt when it comes to withdrawals. Previously, there were just two ways to get money off of DraftKings Sportsbook. The first was check by mail, which while reliable, would leave players waiting 7-10 days for their cashout, and burden them with depositing the physical check at their preferred bank. The second was cash at the Resorts cage in Atlantic City — not really a viable option for New Jersey’s main population centers in the northern half of the state. PayPal withdrawals make it so players can receive their winnings quickly, and without having to leave the comfort of their home.

It should be noted that players must have a linked bank account or valid PayPal balance in order to transfer funds to and from DraftKings Sportsbook. Also, while the inclusion of PayPal on DraftKings is certainly a positive, it doesn’t exactly set the operator apart from the masses, as sportsbooks like Play SugarHouse, FanDuel Sportsbook, and newly-minted Caesars Sportsbook all offered PayPal from Day 1, alongside a bevy of other cashiering options still not available on DraftKings, like PayNearMe and a prepaid card option.

Still it’s undeniably a huge step.

1 million and counting

It took DraftKings all of 32 days taking bets from the public to reach 1 million bets, an average of 31,250 bets per day for all you math wizards. We know this because the sportsbook ran a promotion in which it paid out $35,000 in free bets to players who placed milestone wagers, starting at 900,000 and culminating with $10,000 gifted to the lucky player who placed the 1 millionth bet.

Remarkably, the millionth bet occurred on September 7, just one day after the NFL Kickoff game between the Atlanta Falcons and the reigning Super Bowl champs the Philadelphia Eagles, and before Sunday’s slate. Granted, for much of that 32-day period, DraftKings was the only NJ online sports betting site in town, but on the flip side, it did launch in August, generally regarded as a pretty dead month for sports betting.

Noteworthy was that the winning wager was a $3 run line bet, and that many other winning wagers were of the microstakes variety. This tells us something we pretty much already knew: that online bettors tend to place more bets at lower stakes. What’s more, we noticed that a lot of the winning wagers were on props, parlays, and other more “gambly” wagers.

DraftKings lends itself well to this kind of low-risk, jackpot-seeking sort of bettor, as that’s the mentality that’s promoted on its DFS side, where players are routinely given opportunities to parlay a few bucks into six- or seven-figure scores.

The question now is whether it will achieve its 2 millionth bet in even less time, as it will be facing a ton more competition. Then again, it is NFL season, so probably.

It wasn’t all roses

On a down note, DraftKings had a bit of a server gaffe on Sunday, presumably due to the high volume of traffic (although we’re not certain).

Can’t win them all.

On Wednesday, New Jersey’s gaming regulatory body will unveil revenue figures for August, giving us our first glance at how DraftKings is performing. In July, NJ books generated $3.83 million in sports wagering revenue, but that was just with a smattering of land-based books operating — most of them temporary facilities.

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