New York-based operator FanDuel Sportsbook Arizona made waves when it opened the first full-service retail sportsbook in Arizona on Sept. 9.
The company, which was one of 18 operators to receive a mobile sports betting operator’s license from the Arizona Department of Gaming, opened the facility at downtown Phoenix’s Footprint Center — home of the Phoenix Suns, who FanDuel Sportsbook Arizona partnered with in the state.
Fast forward two months, and FanDuel Sportsbook and the Suns have seen a steady run of Arizona betting customers at the facility, which was the first retail sportsbook to be located inside an NBA arena.
BetArizona.com recently chatted with Jeff Hoose, who has served as FanDuel’s Regional Director for more than two years, about the Footprint Center sportsbook and more.
Hoose discussed FanDuel’s success at capturing a committed customer base, in addition to several other topics.
Below is a transcript of that conversation, edited for brevity and clarity.
BetArizona.com: How has FanDuel’s Footprint Center retail sportsbook fared vs. the company’s expectations when it opened?
BetArizona.com: What’s the response been like from Arizona sports betting apps customers to FanDuel’s product?
Hoose: It's a very competitive market. We've got some great competition. (Phoenix is) also a tremendous sports town and a very large city, one of the largest cities in America — either the fifth, or sixth largest — so it's a huge market with a lot of great competition.
It also has a lot of great fans. I've been able to see that early on. We were the first brick-and-mortar (sportsbook) in the state, and we're the first brick-and-mortar (sportsbook) in a stadium in this part of the country.
And we were expecting it to be busy on game nights, and it has been, particularly as fans in attendance learn more about our presence and the convenience of it all, and what we're doing over there.
But what I've really been surprised by is how busy we've been on weekends for football. Bettors have made the trek downtown to join us for college and pro football in greater numbers than I expected.
BetArizona.com: What is FanDuel doing to differentiate itself from the other companies in the market?
Hoose: I would say the strength is our product. I'm very confident in the strength of our product. I would also say our location is ideal. I mean, the Suns are coming off an NBA Finals run, and early on this season, they're looking very strong again.
There's no place in Phoenix you'd rather be right now than Footprint Center on a game night. And I think we've got that working to our advantage.
BetArizona.com: What are your thoughts on how the Arizona market will shake out once the newness wears off? Will the eventual market in Arizona be big enough for all the companies?
Hoose: I believe so. It's the fifth-largest market in America. It's a massive city. It's spread out over a lot of miles. And there's a lot of individuals and a lot of money spread out over that area.
The market’s big enough for all of us. It’s a four-team market with two great college programs. And there’s no larger gathering of Phoenicians anywhere on a weeknight than at a Suns game.
I mean, you’ve got the Cardinals. But that's eight times a year. Whereas we’re there 41 times.
BetArizona.com: How has the company’s partnership with the Phoenix Suns benefitted FanDuel in Arizona so far, in your opinion?
Hoose: There's no greater gathering of Suns fans on a regular basis than at the Footprint Center on a game night. And bettors have warmed up to us once they realize what we are and what we're doing.
You can walk right into our venue from Jefferson Street, and then also walk right into the concourse. You can scan your ticket and go right into the game. You can bet it on your way in. You can grab a beverage or something to eat on your way and you can catch up on the other games.
When I talk about how people have warmed up to us. Last time I was there, they were playing against Atlanta. So, they're playing Atlanta across the hallway from us, there’s 17,500 fans and the place is rocking.
We’ve got the Suns on a big screen and right next to them on the other two big screens we've got Canelo Alvarez fighting Caleb Plant, and we've got the UFC event on as well.
And we were packed. And I just thought maybe we were packed from people who had come down just to watch the UFC fight.
But I was standing next to a gentleman that is a season ticket holder. He had tickets to the game, yet he was standing with us watching two fights with the game he was paying to get into on TV.
So, it really made me see that there's a place for us and people are embracing this.
BetArizona.com: What are your thoughts on what the next big market, the next big trend, etc., will be in the sports betting marketplace?
Hoose: Footprint Center was the first retail sportsbook in a stadium, and I think stadiums could be the future of retail (sports betting).
I've been at this since 2004. And prior to now I've always worked in traditional gaming venues.
Sportsbooks had always been limited to casinos, or in some newer places, horse tracks. This is our first foray into a stadium, and I really see it as the next big trend throughout the industry.
BetArizona.com: What’s been the highlight of your experience in Arizona over the last two months?
Hoose: I would have to say it was last Saturday when we were there for a championship fight and a stellar UFC event with a great main event, all while an NBA game was going on in our building.
It was the most crowded I've ever seen the place, and it was a tremendous viewing experience.
It was a tremendous betting experience, and I'm glad, having lived out West, that all the customers I knew from Phoenix who would come up to Nevada don't have to do that anymore. They can do it right in Arizona.
BetArizona.com: What would you tell people about your experience building and growing FanDuel’s retail sportsbook in Phoenix?
Hoose: Well, it’s been busy, and I think it's getting consistently busier on game nights, in terms of the big crowds we’re seeing, particularly after the games.
People are coming by and cashing out, but another 17,500 people are packing the Footprint Center every Suns game.
And I invite you to check us out and if you don't know what we're about, come take a look.
Come ask us. We're happy to help you out. A lot of people don't know what we’re doing there, or don't know that we're there.
You can walk right in from Jefferson Street and go right to your seat from inside our building.
And we’ve got a team of people who will show you how to bet the game or anything else or just talk with you if you've got questions. We're happy to walk you through it.
It's a new experience for everybody. And we're happy to experience it with you.