DraftKings’ Johnny Avello: “Our Company Is In A Position To Take States To The Next Level On A Sports Betting Experience”
Tuesday, May 14 marked the one-year anniversary the Supreme Court of the United States struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), opening the door to the legalization of sports betting in the United States. Since that historic day, seven states outside Nevada have legalized sports betting with more on the way this year.
We spoke to DraftKings Director of Sportsbook Operations Johnny Avello to get his thoughts on the first year of legalized sports betting in the United States and where the industry is headed in the future.
RotoGrinders: What are your thoughts on the first year of legalized sports betting and how things have gone at DraftKings?
Avello: It’s been a learning experience for everyone but I think it’s gone well. I think our digital app is the best in the market and it’s been doing really well in New Jersey. The customers have certainly embraced the mobile wagering. I’ve been in the business a long time and there’s always a learning curve with something new, no matter how many years been doing it. What I really like is the way we are approaching games. We’re giving customers a lot to choose from and many different ways to bet on games.
RG: What’s been the challenges of running DraftKings Sportsbooks in a state like New Jersey that’s new to sports betting?
Avello: I think New Jersey has been great to work with so far. Coming from Nevada, we were restricted on a lot of things. The gaming enforcement in New Jersey has just opened it up and allowed us to do things we were never able to do in Las Vegas. We did the Oscars this year, which is a cultural event that reaches out to not only sports bettors but other people who may not wager on sports but who have a passion for movies. New Jersey has been absolutely great.
RG: DraftKings has done very well in its first year in New Jersey. Has the first-year revenue with mobile wagering exceeded your expectations?
Avello: I would say it has exceeded expectations and we had high expectations to start. We’re a company that doesn’t just sit still either. We’re constantly trying to be innovative and come up with new ideas. But what we’ve seen so far, we like and we’re very happy after one year. We’re still looking to raise the bar and go even higher this year.
RG: Where do you see DraftKings going in the next couple of years?
Avello: As more jurisdictions pass legislation, our company is in a position to take states to the next level on a sports betting experience. We have more than $11 million customers in states where we operate. We have already had success and we expect that to grow immensely in the next couple of years.
RG: What are your thoughts on offshore sportsbooks? Do you see them as being big competition?
Avello: I really don’t think so. I believe the American public can see that we already have sports betting in New Jersey and other jurisdictions. I just think people are already embracing it and they will continue to do so. The thing with offshore books is they’re risky. When you bet inside the United States, you can withdraw money from your account easily. Offshore, who knows if you’ll ever get paid. I think it’s a big deal for sports bettors to be comfortable when it comes to their money and that’s a big thing we’ve done at DraftKings.
RG: Is DraftKings planning to offer more odds in the future that may not have been available to bettors in the United States previously?
Avello: We’re aggressive and we’re looking at new things but we need approval. So far, we’ve been able to get many of the things we’ve asked for, so I’m confident we’ll continue to be able to offer different odds in the future. I’d like to see us be able to add odds for the Presidential election and possibly more entertainment odds. We’ll see what the future brings but I have high hopes.
RG: Is there any challenges working in a state with new regulations in terms of offering markets like the Oscars that aren’t available in Nevada?
Avello: Just abide by the rules and you’ll be fine. If you want something, ask for it. If not, leave it alone. Whatever you have to work with you do the best with the products you have to offer.