Nevada banned Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) operators from offering DFS contests towards the end of 2015 on the basis that these real money games were similar to online gambling and hence required a license to operate in the state. Earlier this week, start-up company US Fantasy Sports (USF) received approval from the Nevada Gaming Control Board (GCB) to offer DFS games after the company’s application to merge DFS games with pari-mutuel wagering received unanimous decision in its favour.
USF is backed by Vic Salerno who is a member of the American Gaming Association Hall of Fame and the chairman of William Hill US. The company sent in its application to the board back in December 2015 and requested for a pari-mutuel sports system off-track operator’s license. The only thing pending for USF to obtain an official license is to get the approval of the Nevada Gaming Commission.
Should USF manage to get approval from the commission, Salerno will use the software technology developed by Mike Knapp to offer DFS games and expects the USF to go live before the start of the new NFL season which is scheduled towards the end of August. The USF will offer a number of games including football and baseball in a format similar to horse betting. A.G. Burnett, the Board Chairman termed the proposal from the USF as a “turnkey solution” to introduce DFS betting in Nevada.
Nevada’s sports betting industry has grown steadily over the last decade. Sports betting in Nevada stood at $2.6 billion in 2006, hit $3 billion in 2012 and rose to $4.2 billion during 2015. Analysts expect the sports betting market to hit $5 billion by the end of 2016. Salerno believes that the USF offering will attract millennials and expects atleast fifty percent of his customer base to be new players. Gaming analysts believe that this number could go up to even 80 percent as millennials.
The company plans to introduce its DFS services initially to the 79 casino members that constitute the Nevada Pari-Mutuel Association and then going on to collaborate with various pari-mutuel operators in different states where the DFS industry is regulated or in the process of becoming regulated.
Salerno who has more than forty years of experience in the sports betting industry has planned a pari-mutuel format where the USF will retain around ten percent of the prize pool and allow more than eighty percent of USF players to get back atleast a certain amount of their money. Salerno said that the USF model was “almost the opposite” of the traditional DFS setup. Should the USF receive approval from the Gaming Commission, it will become the first company to offer DFS betting via Nevada’s casinos.