Q&A: FanDuel's Adam Kaplan on betting, fantasy, New Jersey

Q&A: FanDuel's Adam Kaplan on betting, fantasy, New Jersey

As vice president of content business for FanDuel Group, Adam Kaplan has observed from close proximity the legislative and commercial judo daily fantasy sports encountered in establishing itself in the United States. Now also a sportsbook operator, one that ended 2018 as the leader in revenue and handle in the fruitful New Jersey market, the New York-based company is a key player in the growth of legal sports betting, a process which figures to follow familiar paths.

Gambling.com caught up with Kaplan after the annual Fantasy Sports Trade Association winter meetings, after which the group announced it would rebrand and retask its mission as the Fantasy Sports and Gaming Association.

GDC: How does the change at the FSTA in including sports betting impact the industry?

The FSTA is growing and evolving just like the industries it covers. The FSTA understands the overlap in fantasy users and sports bettors, so it’s no surprise that they now include sports betting. In years to come, we hope the FSTA will add horse racing and online casino to the mix, both FanDuel Group business lines, so more people from FanDuel Group can go and share their experiences.

GDC: How do you see legal sports betting and DFS evolving in the next five years?

FanDuel is well-positioned at the center of the viewer ecosystem to capitalize on the quickly changing sports landscape. As the sports landscape continues to evolve and grow, FanDuel is evolving and growing alongside to offer sports fans what they are demanding: an interactive media experience.

GDC: Where does FanDuel want to be in five years?

We are focused on building the best fan experience in the sports industry and have an ambitious vision for our product. Our customers and product innovation are at the heart of everything we do. It will be our commitment to innovation, a laser-focus on creating an incredible experience, building a passionate community that competes on a fair and dynamic platform – that will be the keys to the success of FanDuel in the future.

As sports betting and DFS continues to evolve, our goal is to be a one-stop shop for all sports gaming and content needs.

GDC: How similar are DFS and sports betting and its demographics?

FanDuel has one of the largest user bases of cord-cutting millennial sports fans who have an affinity to put money on sports. Unsurprisingly, we are leading the charge in the US sports betting market. We can also attribute some of our early success to sports fans’ familiarity with the FanDuel site and brand.

GDC: Will fantasy sports suffer when legal sports betting spreads to more states?

It’s always important to remember that, each year, a new group of sports fans wants to play daily fantasy after becoming frustrated with their season-long fantasy leagues. In fact, the FanDuel Sportsbook has not impacted FanDuel’s DFS business - both our fantasy business and sports betting business continues to exceed our expectations. Entry Fees from residents of New Jersey are up [year over year] each week both in total and as a percentage of nation-wide entry fees. Revenue and new customers joining FanDuel are both up [year over year].

We will continue to invest in innovating our fantasy product, in addition to sports betting products. In 2018, we launched single-game contests which have been extremely successful and a huge revenue-driver. Almost one million people have played a single-game contest since launch. For the Super Bowl, we will have a $2.3 million single-game fantasy contest with first place winning $1 million. We’re also introducing half and fourth quarter slate contests which will be available for the Super Bowl.

GDC: How do you mainstream sports betting without over-saturating the public?

FanDuel is a customer-first company and we have introduced promotions centered around our customers. An early payout of a major sporting event is a great example of what can be done in a legal and regulated sports betting market to benefit the consumer. Even though Alabama lost and didn’t win the national title, it was something that we wanted to do to celebrate our customers. Bad Bet Relief, odds boosts, an intuitive app experience, and 24/7 customer service will help us attract new customers and establish market leadership as the sports betting industry matures and enters more states.

GDC: What has doing business in New Jersey taught you?

We learned the importance of building both a retail and online sports betting experience that is simple, secure, and convenient. We also learned that the customer and innovation should be at the center of all that we do, the early Alabama payout is a prime example of that. We purposefully have more creative promotions and payouts than any other sportsbook, and we want consumers to place their wagers with us over other operators. We like it when customers win.

An early payout, odds boosts, bad beat relief, and parlay insurance are great examples of what can be done in a legal and regulated sports betting market to benefit the consumer.

GDC: Will the purchase of official data become industry standard especially as companies seek to offer products such as in-play wagering?

In-Play wagering is now 40 percent of our sportsbook business in New Jersey. We have great partnerships with SportRadar and official league partnerships with the NBA and NHL that allow us to offer best in class in-game wagering. There will be a great deal of future innovation with in-play and we are excited to see what our product development teams can create for fans.