Greg Bunnell has played fantasy football since he was a teenager. So when Indiana legalized sports betting two years ago, the 39-year-old project manager seamlessly switched from plotting his next player transfer to setting himself up to bet—all within the FanDuel app. Bunnell, who says he plans to wager as much as $100 a weekend, is one of a record 45 million Americans expected to legally bet on professional football this season, a 36% increase from last year. Thirty states are set to allow such wagering by the Super Bowl’s coin toss in February, following a U.S. Supreme Court decision three years ago to strike down a federal ban on sports betting.
FanDuel Group Inc. has emerged as the top business in this new market, nabbing a 42% share of U.S. sports wagers in June, up from 35% only two months earlier, according to estimates from research company Eilers & Krejcik Gaming LLC. It’s a meteoric rise for FanDuel, whose nearest competitor, DraftKings Inc., has a 23% share of the market. The two were neck and neck in the business of daily fantasy sports contests before FanDuel was acquired only a week after the court ruling by an Irish bookmaker in Dublin, now known as Flutter Entertainment Plc.