Fanatics Overtake of DraftKings’ New Jersey Revenues Reportedly Driven by One VIP Gambler

Although total sports betting handles in many states can reach billions, dozens of variables mean that even the biggest U.S. sportsbooks rarely make more than $50 million a month in revenues in any one state.

That market state means the activities of one or two big VIP bettors really can shift a single sportsbook’s fortunes. Which is what may have happened last month in New Jersey, as PointsBet: A Fanatics Experience shocked the market by overtaking national leader DraftKings at the Garden State’s second-favorite sports betting destination, behind FanDuel.

A recent newsletter from Eilers & Krejcik Gaming revealed the news. It quoted an unnamed source at Fanatics Sportsbook who told them that the operator’s $13 million rise in New Jersey revenues in March was mostly driven by one VIP player moving platforms. The brand secured 23.5% of the overall state handle in March, compared to around 2% nationally.

“I’m hearing this is all because of one player that moved over to Fanatics,” the source said. “He’s the biggest legal player by far.” 

Whale Chasing 

While headline grabbing million dollar bets from Dave Portnoy or Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale may represent a lot of money to most, there are high net worth individuals wagering those kinds of sums on a weekly or monthly basis. 

Since the true size of the VIP player that moved may never be known outside of DraftKings’ and Fanatics’ staff, the source did provide some estimation. 

They claimed that the “majority” of the $13 million in extra revenue that went to Fanatics’ New Jersey operation in March was from one bettor. 

The source compared the whale’s activities to that of Ippei Mizuhara. The former MLB translator is accused of stealing more than $16 million over four years from his employer, Los Angeles Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani, and gambling the proceeds. 

According to the source, the one New Jersey sports betting whale far outspent Mizuhara. They make Ippei look like child’s play,” the source said. 

The acquisition, if true, would be a big coup for Fanatics. It has yet to fully finalize the rollout of its Fanatics’ sportsbook in New Jersey after 2023’s $225 million purchase of PointsBet U.S.A.

The Eilers & Krejcik newsletter said the customer was the biggest-losing legal player at legal U.S. sportsbooks.

“But perhaps most remarkably, multiple channel checks said the swing was driven largely by a single customer, described to us as ‘the biggest-losing player in the regulated market by a mile,’” the report said.

DraftKings and Fanatics’ Battle 

The news comes also comes at a time when a recent court case put the VIP-chasing operations of U.S. sportsbooks in the spotlight.

Operators Fanatics Sportsbook and DraftKings are embroiled in a very public lawsuit over the career moves of VIP Operations head Jon Hermalyn. 

Hermalyn had been at DraftKings before leaving for a similar role at Fanatics in late 2023. DraftKings says part of that move was influenced by the transfer of trade secrets, including the contact details of VIP customers gambling millions of dollars. It is now suing Fanatics to try and stop similar moves in the future.

Either way, some claim that the biggest sports bettors in the U.S. avoid legal operations entirely. 

According to DraftKings’ former head of VIP Acquisition Dillon Borgida, the biggest whales in U.S. sports betting are almost all playing at offshore sportsbooks instead of legal sites. 

© Copyright 2024 -