His efforts were boosted by the emergence in the 2010s of daily fantasy sports games in which people choose fantasy teams across various sports but win points based on the real-life performance of the players. For many it was a way to take punts on sport in a legal grey area outside of PASPA’s reach.
DraftKings and FanDuel, the two biggest daily fantasy sports sites, came to the attention of regulators in 2016 after advertising by the two companies caused a backlash. Some asked whether fantasy sports was merely sports betting under a different guise but the companies successfully argued that fantasy sports are games of skill not chance and therefore did not constitute gambling. Their combined customer base of more than 13m players, however, showed that there was an appetite for the betting-like activity they offered.
The sportsbook at Monmouth Park is under the management of William Hill, the UK bookmaker which has had a presence in the US since it bought a Las Vegas counterpart for $50m in 2012. Late on a Saturday afternoon at the tail-end of the racing season, few punters are watching the horses. Yet the sportsbook — where they can bet on everything from basketball to golf — is packed.
FanDuel, bought by Flutter in the same month as the Supreme Court decision, and DraftKings have both launched full-scale sports betting websites and apps in New Jersey. According to figures from the New Jersey Gaming Board, the pair accounted for more than 75 percent of the total sports betting market in August. Total revenue from sports betting that month reach $25 million.
But that market lead is threatened by an influx of experienced European operators, equipped with the technology and keen to diversify away from highly regulated markets such as the UK and Australia. William Hill has worked with the casino group El Dorado to get the results of accessing to 15 states as they legalise. GVC, owner of Ladbrokes Coral, and Stars Group, the Canadian owner of SkyBet, have also done deals with, respectively, casino giant MGM and media company FoxSports, to enter the US.