Fox Bet customers in New Jersey received a push notification at 6 p.m. Friday promoting a new product addition. It’s not another sports betting toy, though.
PokerStars Casino now exists as a tab in the Fox Bet mobile app, offering NJ online casino games alongside the sportsbook interface. DraftKings and FanDuel also offer similar all-in-one gambling apps in New Jersey, but casino games appearing under the Fox brand is especially eye-catching.
The addition comes a month barely after the sports betting debut of Fox Bet NJ.
Well, that didn’t take long.
Fox Bet is the old BetStars platform with new clothes on, the product of a “media and sports wagering partnership” forged between The Stars Group and Fox Sports earlier this year. There was no mention of gambling other than sports betting in the press release announcing the union.
Non-sports online gambling is big business in New Jersey, though; substantially larger than trendy sports betting, in fact. The NJ sports betting industry has generated about $250 million in revenue since launch last year, while online casino games have driven about twice that much to operators over the same period.
PokerStars Casino has created its fair share of revenue in the latter category, too, offering more than 150 slot titles and dozens of table games. It is also one of only a handful of operators that have stuck with the NJ online poker market through its years-long slump.
Adding casino games might make good sense from a numbers and logistics standpoint, but it comes as a bit of a surprise. To date, no US media network has been willing to embrace gambling to the extent Fox has, and certainly not beyond sports betting.
DraftKings and FanDuel deserve more than a passing mention for their aggressive use of cross-selling in customer acquisition.
DraftKings began life as a daily fantasy sports company, of course, building a nationwide database of customers interested in speculating on games. A percentage of those made easy converts to DraftKings Sportsbook when the time came for sports betting and a percentage of those were naturally drawn to — or at least curious about — DraftKings Casino.
The current flows in reverse too, with some casino customers now dabbling in sports amid expanded legalization.
The path was even more obvious for FanDuel, which was the subject of a post-PASPA acquisition by gambling giant Paddy Power Betfair. The UK-based company already operated an NJ online casino, and the timing was just right to team up for FanDuel Sportsbook. That app also includes an embedded version of Betfair Casino, which could be ripe for a rebrand of its own at some point.
Fox Bet, though, seems to represent a much larger leap. Its prior relationship with sports gambling was limited to fantasy tips and casual references to favorites during broadcasts, so the plunge into sports betting was surprising enough by itself. But by offering blackjack and roulette?
I mean, imagine telling someone two years ago, "Oh yeah, there's a Fox sports betting app where you're just a click away from playing blackjack for real money."
— Dustin Gouker (@DustinGouker) October 4, 2019
It’s not unfathomable to think a media company, like Fox Sports, putting its weight behind online gambling could help normalize and legitimize the activity to some extent. New Jersey is one of just three states with legal online casino gambling today, but that list is already poised to expand in the coming years.
FanDuel and Fox Bet are no longer direct competitors, though.
Earlier this week, the parent companies of each — Flutter Entertainment and The Stars Group — announced a $6 billion tie-up that will see TSG absorbed by Flutter. The new, combined company will have the inside track on US online gambling as a whole, including the broadest access and a handful of the strongest brands.
It’s far too early to understand how all the pieces will fit together, but Fox Bet will have a prominent role going forward. In the press release announcing the union, Flutter CEO Peter Jackson underscored the importance of both the Fox brand and the network-level partnership with Fox Sports.
Perhaps Fox Poker is next?