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Xander Bogaerts of the Boston Red Sox is congratulated by teammates after scoring a J.D. Martinez two-run double in the fourth inning against the Kansas City Royals.
Xander Bogaerts of the Boston Red Sox is congratulated by teammates after scoring a J.D. Martinez two-run double in the fourth inning against the Kansas City Royals. Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images/AFP.

Two top sports betting sites came out swinging in the week leading up to the launch of online sports betting in the Bay State – and shockingly, Boston’s own DraftKings was not one of them.

With Massachusetts expected to roll out online sports betting Friday at 10 a.m. ET, FanDuel and BetMGM both just announced major deals to hit the ground running.

News broke on Monday of FanDuel partnering with New England Sports Network (NESN) in a multi-year sponsorship deal that designates FanDuel as the premier sportsbook partner of NESN’s Red Sox and Bruins game day coverage. The deal includes commercials, in-game sponsorship integrations, and pre-game features highlighting FanDuel, bringing the sportsbook’s odds, insights, and content directly to the homes of New England’s biggest sports fans.

In addition to the broadcast integrations, NESN and FanDuel will partner on NESN’s sports betting site where FanDuel will have prominent placement on a site that provides New England fans with odds, news, and information to enable a second screen experience and complement the live broadcast partnership.

This is FanDuel’s first media partnership in the Massachusetts sports betting arena, and comes on the heels of being named a co-exclusive official sports betting partner of Major League Baseball (MLB) – joining BetMGM as the other betting operator holding that label.

BetMGM made headlines this week, too, announcing on Tuesday an agreement to become the Official Sports Betting Partner of the Boston Red Sox, one of baseball’s most beloved franchises. Per the agreement, BetMGM signage will be featured at Fenway Park, including on the ballpark’s signature left field wall known as the Green Monster.

BetMGM will have a suite at the stadium to curate VIP fan experiences, including batting practice access with premium seats, alumni appearances, and ceremonial first pitches. Co-branded content will be integrated across the Red Sox’s and BetMGM’s digital and social platforms.

This deal is BetMGM’s first deal with a Massachusetts-based sports team and becomes the sixth partnership with an MLB team. Of the 6 MLB franchises it’s currently partnered with, BetMGM’s deals with the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates bolster its access within the prolific Ohio sports betting and Pennsylvania sports betting markets. BetMGM already has a retail presence in Massachusetts by way of MGM Springfield which began accepting bets on January 31.   

The MA online sports betting landscape

Both of these deals look like metaphorical slaps in the face for Boston-bred DraftKings, with a pair of the industry's best sportsbooks snatching up key partnerships in its own backyard.

Despite DraftKings being based in Beantown, FanDuel presented NESN with a unique value prop as the best sports betting site in the United States in terms of its market share, with around half of the discernible market in its tow. DraftKings and BetMGM are the only other two platforms with a double-digit share of the US sports betting market too, while even well-known operators like Caesars and Barstool Sportsbook have less than 10% market share respectively.

It’s possible that the Barstool brand can capitalize on its own Boston roots since the Barstool Sports media site traces its origins to founder Dave Portnoy giving out free copies of his original gambling rag on the city’s T and at other public spots.

The Barstool-branded retail sportsbook at Plainridge Park Casino is one of the retail sports betting sites in Massachusetts too, so the brand should be able to garner traction from that presence as well.

With seven operators set to launch with the debut of online sports betting in Massachusetts this week – Betr and WynnBET round out the field – DraftKings can also look to the Bay State bettors who cross into New Hampshire sports betting territory to cast wagers at the company’s three brick-and-mortar sportsbooks there. DraftKings also has existing relationships with local teams including the Boston Bruins, Boston Celtics, and New England Patriots too. 

With March Madness and the launch of MA online sports betting tipping off at the same time, Massachusetts sportsbook promos are ripe for the taking. Caesars has already made its mobile sportsbook app in Massachusetts available for download, and DraftKings has new users covered with a prelaunch promo in which any who registers on the web or mobile will receive up to $200 in bonus bets.

The Massachusetts population is about one-third the size that the New York sports betting market enjoys, and about half that of Pennsylvania sports betting, and those are the two biggest states in the U.S. with legal digital wagering. As mobile sportsbooks in Massachusetts gear up to take the lion’s share of wagers in the state, how much impact will some of these big deals signed by big-name players in the industry have?