Nevada Recommends Approval Of FanDuel, Boyd Gaming Sportsbook Deal

August 11, 2022
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Flutter Entertainment has been recommended for licensing approval by the Nevada Gaming Control Board, along with its subsidiary FanDuel, to brand and provide line information to the retail sportsbook at Boyd Gaming’s Fremont casino in downtown Las Vegas.

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Flutter Entertainment has been recommended for licensing approval by the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB), along with its subsidiary FanDuel, to brand and provide line information to the retail sportsbook at Boyd Gaming’s Fremont casino in downtown Las Vegas.

Amy Howe, CEO of FanDuel, told the three-member board on Wednesday (August 10) the company does not plan to offer a mobile sports-betting app in Nevada. FanDuel will brand the sportsbook, provide wagering odds and offer advice on betting line movements.

Boyd Gaming, which owns the Fremont casino known for its 99 cent shrimp cocktails, will continue to operate the sportsbook. The company, which operates ten casinos in southern Nevada, will continue to operate its Boyd Sports retail and mobile wagering business.

NGCB chairman Brin Gibson cautioned Flutter to stay within its licenses and approvals.

“If you do want to move beyond that, just work with us,” Gibson said. “There are ways to satisfy the … licensing requirements and other things as well.”

The Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC) will make a final decision on August 25.

Pending final approval, the FanDuel Sportsbook co-branding at the Fremont would occur in late 2022. Boyd will receive an undisclosed percentage of the gaming revenue from the co-branded Fremont sportsbook.

During the 90-plus-minute hearing on Wednesday, Gibson asked Howe if she had any problems with what he called "truth in advertising."

“We could call it something else, call it intentionally misleading the consumer,” Gibson said. “Branding another license’s sportsbook, a FanDuel sportsbook when you are not a licensee yourself, does that bother you at all.”

Howe told Gibson the most important thing is that “we do a lot of diligence to make sure we feel good about our market access partners.”

“I don’t have any concerns around misleading the customers because the FanDuel brand is on the sportsbook,” Howe said.

Erica Okerberg, an attorney with Greenberg Traurig, who represented Flutter, told the NGCB that the arrangement with Boyd is similar to tribal gaming sportsbooks in several states that carry the FanDuel brand.

In December 2020, Flutter acquired 37 percent in FanDuel for $4.2bn from its private equity investors, which brought its ownership stake to 95 percent. The company bought a 58 percent state in FanDuel in 2018, while market access partner Boyd owns the remaining 5 percent.

Flutter CEO Peter Jackson told the control board that 23 percent, or $1.9bn of the company’s just over $7bn in revenue last year, came from its U.S. business. Thirty-five percent of revenue was generated in the UK and Ireland, 20 percent International, and 21 percent from Australia.

The decision by Flutter and FanDuel to seek licensure in Nevada marks a return to the Silver State by FanDuel, which operated daily fantasy sports (DFS) contests in the state until October 2015, when the NGCB ruled that DFS was a form of sports betting.

That meant FanDuel, DraftKings and other DFS companies had to be licensed as sports-betting operators if they wanted to offer their games in the state. The decision forced the companies to shut down their Nevada operators.

Gibson, who at the time was chief deputy of the gaming division in the attorney general’s office, said he wanted to note for the record that FanDuel did comply and “there were no challenges, no problems regarding compliance.”

Since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the federal ban on sports betting in May 2018, FanDuel and DraftKings have emerged as two of the largest sports-betting companies in the country.

DraftKings completed its $1.56bn acquisition of Golden Nugget Online Gaming from Fertitta Entertainment in May, which includes an agreement for DraftKings to rebrand retail sportsbooks at Golden Nugget casinos under the DraftKings name.

Golden Nugget operates two casinos in Nevada, one in downtown Las Vegas, and Laughlin. The company also has casinos in Atlantic City, Biloxi, Mississippi, and Lake Charles, Louisiana.

In a statement emailed to VIXIO GamblingCompliance late Tuesday (August 9), the NGCB confirmed it had received a license application from DraftKings.

“The application is being actively worked on by a team and will be on an agenda as soon as the investigation is completed,” the agency said.

Gibson also asked Flutter executives to assure the board they were not operating in “black or grey listed markets.”

Flutter CFO Jonathan Hill told the NGCB that there were three definitions for jurisdictions.

“There are regular jurisdictions, then there are black jurisdictions where it is illegal to operate and there are grey jurisdictions, which includes a subset of not regulating and regulating,” Hill said. “Most of our operations sit in regulated environments.”

Hill said there are some large markets that are becoming regulated, such as Canada, Brazil and the Netherlands. He said a lot of these markets were unregulated but not illegal to operate in.

“We do not operate in black markets. We do not operate where it is illegal.”

Board member Brittnie Watkins asked Hill if Flutter had ceased operations in China and the Philippines.

“We as Flutter never operated in China and when we did merge with [The Stars Group], we ensured we were not operating at all in China at any point,” Hill said.

He noted that after Flutter’s $12.2bn merger with The Stars Group they did “switch off a bunch of markets that we didn’t feel comfortable operating in at the time, which were markets that we inherited from the operations of TSG’s business.”

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