21ST JUL 2017 | WRITTEN BY: CHRIS SIEROTY
Resorts Casino Hotel has become the first property in Atlantic City to offer its customers a chance to play real-money daily fantasy sports (DFS) contests, even as a bill regulating and taxing the industry sits on Republican Governor Chris Christie’s desk.
Offered by Resorts Digital Gaming, FastPick is an online fantasy game that pits the contestant against the house, not other players.
Ed Andrewes, CEO of FastPick, told GamblingCompliance that FastPick was created to provide an alternative to traditional DFS sites and eliminate the advantage held by expert DFS players who are thought to be winning the majority of money on sites such as DraftKings and FanDuel.
One of the company’s chief findings was that players lose interest when they realize they are competing against “professional” DFS players with far more time, knowledge, and in some cases, the benefit of assistive technology.
“We wanted to offer something that was simple and enjoyable for customers to play against the house,” Andrewes said, calling FastPick “the next generation of fantasy sports.”
In FastPick, DFS players compete in a series of head-to-head match-ups of real-world athletes.
For example, a customer can choose whether New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers will have a better statistical performance on an average NFL Sunday.
FastPick also offers DFS games associated with basketball, baseball, hockey and soccer.
The contestant’s selections are then put up against the casino’s and if the customer’s team of players gains more points than those assigned to the casino, the customer wins.
Andrewes said FastPick is designed to fit into fantasy sports regulations approved in New Jersey several years ago.
Andrewes said the DFS contests are currently only available online, including Resorts’ online casino, and not yet in the Android or Apple app store. He expects to have kiosks on the casino floor by the fourth quarter.
The move into Atlantic City is the latest expansion of DFS into casino markets. USFantasy Sports, which uses a pari-mutuel system, is licensed and offered by casinos in Nevada.
Robert Ambrose, a gaming consultant in Philadelphia, believes adding DFS is a positive and timely move for Resorts.
“It’s a model that offers more opportunity to the masses and less skilled DFS player,” Ambrose told GamblingCompliance in an email. “This is also another way to connect the online gaming community with the physical presence of the host casino.”
At the moment, FastPick is only available to people physically located in New Jersey. Andrewes said FastPick is taking a conservative approach when it comes to expansion, with a rollout into New York casinos next on the list.
A New Jersey bill, A 3532, currently sits on Republican Governor Chris Christie’s desk that would regulate and tax DFS contests, but gaming regulators say DFS is already legal for casinos in New Jersey due to the state’s internet gambling laws.
The DFS bill, sponsored by state Senator Jim Whelan, a Democrat from Atlantic City, would require companies such as FanDuel and DraftKings to obtain operating permits and pay 10.5 percent of their gross revenue to the state.
The release of FastPick comes as the DFS market deals with the fallout from the failed merger between DraftKings and FanDuel, and as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to hear New Jersey’s appeal to legalize sports betting within its borders.
New Jersey is asking the Supreme Court to overturn the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which bans sports betting in all states except Nevada, with partial exemptions in Delaware, Montana and Oregon.
“We are very supportive of New Jersey’s effort to [legalize] sports betting,” Andrewes said. “I believe that PASPA will be repealed. But, this gives us an opportunity to establish a brand [as we] build up expertise and a customer base.
“I think this product stands on its own two feet … with or without sports betting.”
Ambrose also said he thought it would be “a while before you see a turn-over or modification to PASPA.”
“Remember it does not reference DFS,” Ambrose said of the 1992 federal law. “However depending on the outcome here in New Jersey you will see state by state challenges. If New Jersey is successful in their sports-betting initiatives there will be a testing of it nationwide.”
Ambrose added that as far as the current DFS model offered by Resorts is concern, “some may go back to the debate of skill vs. chance. The current Resort game being offered is a positive and good for Atlantic City gaming.”
According to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, there are 59.3m people playing fantasy sports in the U.S. and Canada. Last year, players spent more than $3.26bn on DFS.