DraftKings Starts Taking Mobile Bets in New Jersey

(Bloomberg) -- Online sports betting has arrived in New Jersey. DraftKings Inc. announced that it will begin taking bets in the state Wednesday afternoon through its new mobile app, making it the first legal online sports wagering offered in the Garden State.

Sports betting became legal in the state in May after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal law barring the practice in most of the country. Brick-and-mortar operators began taking bets in June, after New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed a state law regulating the industry. The bill put a 30-day waiting period on online and mobile betting, allowing state regulators time to begin the licensing process.

Globally, mobile betting is the most popular type of sports wagering, and is critical to helping legal U.S. operators compete with illegal bookies and established sports books. Without online offerings, sports betting is expected to generate $279 million in annual revenue for New Jersey operators, according to research firm Eilers & Krejcik Gaming LLC. With broad access to mobile betting, that estimate almost doubles to more than $500 million.

Though the 30-day window in the original law has come and gone, operators in New Jersey have been waiting on the state’s Division of Gaming Enforcement to approve mobile offerings. Daily fantasy sports giant DraftKings said its soft launch is one of the final steps in the certification process.

The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement didn’t respond to requests for comment.

For now, customers who want to join the opening wave can apply for an invite on the DraftKings website. The company didn’t disclose how many users will be included initially, but said it expects to launch statewide within “a few days.”

DraftKings Starts Taking Mobile Bets in New Jersey

Other operators are also expected to implement online gaming in the coming days. MGM Resorts International Chief Executive Officer James Murren said Tuesday that his company, which owns the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, would begin taking mobile bets in New Jersey “at the end of this week.”

DraftKings, the market leader in daily fantasy sports, has been preparing to branch into betting since last summer, when the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would hear New Jersey’s challenge to the now-defunct federal law. The company hired a head of sports betting operations in February and in June formed a licensing partnership with Resorts Casino Hotel in order to be able to operate in New Jersey.

The DraftKings sports book app will be available for Apple and Android phones. Though the gambling app is different from the company’s fantasy product, customers will be able to use both from the same account. DraftKings will also use a customer’s activity in fantasy contests to tailor the offerings they see in the sports betting app. For instance, a daily fantasy player who has entered a line-up full of New York Yankees hitters might be offered a custom wager on the total runs scored in that night’s Yankees game. The minimum bet will be 10 cents. Maximum bets will vary by event and the type of wager.

Customers will only be allowed to place bets while in the state of New Jersey, though they can open an account and deposit or withdraw money from anywhere. DraftKings said it uses a third-party geo-location service approved by New Jersey regulators to enforce the state boundary.

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