Published: December 17, 2023

DraftKings Not Feeling Heat from New Competitors

DraftKings and Flutter Entertainment’s FanDuel amount to a duopoly in US online sports betting, controlling more than 70% of the market.

The US sports wagering landscape is awash in new, well-heeled competitors, but DraftKings (NASDAQ: DKNG) isn’t feeling adverse effects from those fresh entrants.

DraftKings and Flutter Entertainment’s FanDuel amount to a duopoly in US online sports betting, controlling more than 70% of the market. Rivals believe they can pilfer some of that share, and there’s evidence to suggest Fanatics and Penn Entertainment’s (NASDAQ: PENN) ESPN Bet are off to solid starts, but that’s yet to be a headwind for DraftKings.

DraftKings cited no immediate impact from the ESPN Bet launch, and sees potential for the offering to grow the market,” Stifel analyst Jeffrey Stantial wrote in a report to clients.

The analyst recently met with executives from the gaming company. He rates the stock “hold” with a $40 price target, implying upside of 13.1% from today’s close at $35.35.

DraftKings Proving Resilient Against ESPN Bet

Fanatics and ESPN Bet are the two most ballyhooed new entrants to the sports betting landscape, with the latter debuting last month. The reasoning is simple: The operators have the resources to compete with behemoths DraftKings and FanDuel.

As more states have embraced regulated mobile sports wagering, some operators have opted against profligate spending simply for customer acquisition. As a result, some gaming companies scaled back US sports betting ambitions or left the market because it became difficult to generate profits after spending to gain mere market share scraps.

Fanataics and ESPN Bet could experience different outcomes over the long term, and while the latter appears to be off to a fast start, it’s not yet been a drain on DraftKings in the states where the operators compete against each other.

“Encouragingly, DraftKings has seen little impact to their customer base, noting comparable user churn & spending patterns during November and early December in states where they compete against ESPN Bet vs. states where ESPN Bet is not yet live,” added Stantial.

That could signal that ESPN Bet is taking share from other companies or growing the overall sports betting market.

iGaming, Product Development Could Boost DraftKings in 2024

Though the stock declined this week, DraftKings has more than tripled on a year-to-date basis. Demanding investors are asking, “What’s next?” meaning there’s a burden on the operator to deliver catalysts for market participants to remain engaged with the stock in 2024.

Those include new product offerings such as the Pick6 fantasy game and progressive parlays and gaining more iGaming share, which could be aided by favorable legislative outcomes next year.

“We remain constructive on the fundamental outlook for DraftKings, as same-state online sports betting & iCasino growth remains healthy, product mix drives net gaming revenue & margin upside, 2024 shows promise for new state legislation, and DraftKings continues to demonstrate resilience to new competition,” concluded Stantial. “However, valuation is demanding, and we remain cautious on potential iCasino market share deconsolidation. Hence we reiterate Hold, though remaining opportunistic on pullbacks.”

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