By Hilary Russ
NEWYORK (Reuters) – U.S. bookmaker FanDuel has signed a deal with Switzerland’s Sportradar AG to allow sports fans to place wagers on a game while they are watching it on a mobile app, company executives said on Monday, a first for the nascent U.S. sports betting market.
The deal is set to be officially announced on Tuesday after the service was rolled out late last week in New Jersey, where FanDuel, a unit of Irish bookmaker Paddy Power Betfair PLC, has the largest market share of all sportsbooks.
The deal highlights one way the media industry and the sports betting market are colliding, blurring the line for viewers who want to place a bet from their livestream.
Last May, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a 1992 federal law that banned sports betting in all but a few places. That created a new market overnight, with eight states offering it and more expected.
So far, major U.S. media companies have trod cautiously, creating programming that includes sports betting content such as displaying odds – but without offering features to let viewers make bets while watching.
Most of the U.S. leagues staunchly opposed the legalization of sports betting until it became clear that consumer appetite for it had grown and the court was likely to overturn the ban.
“We’re trying to build the most engaging and entertaining sports betting experience in the U.S.,” said Niall Connell, general manager of the sportsbook at FanDuel Group.
The service will only be available in New Jersey for now, but FanDuel said it hopes to offer it in other states as they allow mobile sports wagering.
Being able to watch a match and bet on it from within a mobile betting app has been around in Europe for some time.
However, American football fans should not expect to be able to watch the Super Bowl and bet on it inside an app any time soon.
While that is something both companies said they might one day be able to consider, media rights for the big four U.S. professional leagues – football, baseball, basketball and hockey – are more difficult to manoeuvre than in Europe.
FanDuel will start with tennis and European soccer.
A live stream on the lower tier, non-core sports is expected to double the number of bets on those sports, Connell said.
And with matches from overseas, “the ability to watch 24/7 is a key aspect of this,” said Neale Deeley, Sportradar’s Vice President of sales.
Viewers will be able to see live odds displayed in one part of the screen, in a section that allows them to place a bet while never leaving the game’s livestream.
Neither company would disclose financial terms of the non-exclusive agreement.
(Reporting by Hilary Russ, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)