FanDuel Inches Closer to Sin City

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Exterior photo of the Fremont Hotel in downtown Las Vegas, Nevada. Ethan Miller/Getty Images/AFP

FanDuel has not been seen in Nevada since they were exiled in 2015, but in a collaboration with Boyd Gaming, the sports betting titan is poised to reemerge as the downtown casino’s branded sportsbook.

FanDuel Wins Approval

Boyd Gaming has casinos in nine states and FanDuel operates the sportsbooks in eight of them with the exception of Nevada. But that could be changing, at least at the retail level, as the company recently won tentative approval by the Gaming Control Board to operate Boyd Gaming’s sportsbook at Boyd’s Fremont Hotel Casino under the FanDuel name.

Back in 2015, FanDuel and DraftKings were both told to pack their respective bags and head on out of the Silver State because Nevada gaming regulators determined that daily fantasy sports (DFS) are a form of sports betting and any entity engaging in the industry had to be licensed as sports betting providers.

FanDuel and DraftKings were both unlicensed sportsbook providers and thus their operations were shut down.

But since that time both companies have pivoted quickly to sports betting once PASPA was overturned in 2018, paving the way for states to legalize and license online sports betting.

The Biggest in the Game

FanDuel is currently the biggest sportsbook operator in the United States, while DraftKings owns the No. 2 spot.

FanDuel will control the odds and line moves at the Fremont and the sportsbook will have all the trappings of the FanDuel brand but the employees will still be Boyd’s.

FanDuel CEO Amy Howe and the company’s Las Vegas attorney, Erica Okerberg, had to assure the board that there would be no confusion between the FanDuel branded sportsbook and the casino being run by Boyd’s Gaming at the Fremont.

However, they were quick to point out that this is the blueprint used at dozens of tribal casinos throughout the nation. “The company is very familiar with this operating model,” Okerberg said.

Fremont Undergoes a Facelift

Boyd Gaming is sinking $50 million into the Fremont and part of that is the expansion of what will be the new FanDuel sportsbook with seating for 76 customers and more casual dining. The FanDuel name alone is expected to generate increased foot traffic and thus more revenue.

Boyd Gaming also owns 5% of FanDuel and its CEO, Keith Smith, declared FanDuel “a great partner,” and said it was an “important strategic asset that will grow more valuable as sports betting expands and FanDuel continues to build on its position as the nation’s leader in online sports betting.”

Smith also stated, “This project will help us capture a larger portion of pedestrian traffic throughout the Fremont Street Experience.”

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FanDuel CEO, Amy Howe, is treading cautiously knowing that it wasn’t long ago when her company was persona non grata in Nevada, and wants to make sure the Gaming Control Board is at ease with the reintroduction into the market.

Howe said: “The intent is not to bring in the FanDuel app at this time. There may be a future time when the app might be brought in, but the (Boyd) app will continue to appear to the patron as it does today.”

Control Board Chairman Brin Gibson told Howe, “Stay within the confines of your licenses. If you want to move beyond that, then work with us.”

A final vote is expected on August 25th and Bookmakers Review will continue to monitor this story and report back to our readers as events unfold.