Stockmarket

FanDuel owner Flutter lists in New York amid US gambling boom


One of the world’s largest gambling companies listed in New York on Monday, describing the stock exchange as its “natural home” amid the US’s online sports betting boom.

Flutter Entertainment, owner of FanDuel, promptly announced that it will go a step further – and switch its primary listing from London, where it is right now, to New York – “as soon as practicable”.

Its business has surged in the United States in recent years. Flutter generated sales of £3.6bn ($4.59bn) in the US last year – up from £191m ($243m) in 2018, when the US supreme court struck down a decades-old law that prohibited sports betting across much of the country.

FanDuel, with its rival operators DraftKings and BetMGM, has led the sharp-elbowed race to dominate the nascent US online gambling market.

Peter Jackson, chief executive of Flutter, said it soon expects the US to generate “the largest proportion” of its profits. “With our NYSE listing effective today, this is a pivotal moment for the group as we make Flutter more accessible to US-based investors and gain access to deeper capital markets.”

Ditching its primary listing in London would set the stage for Flutter to exit Britain’s FTSE 100 stock index. It will put the plan to shareholders in May.

Listed on the London stock exchange and headquartered in Dublin, Flutter has already dropped a second listing in Dublin to join the New York stock exchange: a move designed to boost its profile, and grant it access to more money, in the US.

In a regulatory filing ahead of the switch, Flutter described “a long runway” for future growth – but acknowledged that concerns around problem gambling could “significantly influence” future regulation of its industry, prompt investigations and dissuade people from placing bets.

Sports betting’s liberalization across the US has been so transformative for Flutter that Jackson has floated making 18 May – the day of the supreme court decision – a company holiday. It agreed to acquire a controlling stake in FanDuel just days after the 2018 ruling.

Five years ago, the group (then known as Paddy Power Betfair) relied on the US for about 10% of its business; by last year, the market was responsible for almost 40% of its sales.

While sports betting is now legal in 36 states and Washington DC, major states including Texas have yet to follow. Flutter is confident they will. California voters rejected the prospect in 2022, but the company described “multiple ongoing initiatives” to change the state’s stance in its filing. “The expectation is that legalized sports betting will be back on the ballot in the near future.”

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Wall Street is bullish, too. Online gambling is a “hyper growth industry” in the US, said Joe Stauff, an analyst at Susquehanna, a trading firm. “FanDuel has a huge competitive advantage.”

“It’s crazy,” added Mike Hickey of Benchmark, an investment bank. “It’s just getting started … It’s going to be a massive market in the US.”

But Flutter noted in the filing that “social responsibility concerns” could “significantly influence the regulation of online betting and iGaming and impact responsible gaming requirements, could result in investigations and litigation, and may adversely impact our reputation.”

The industry claims to already be highly regulated. It has pushed back hard against proposals in Congress to ban gambling advertising in the US and divert tax receipts from sports wagers towards problem gambling treatment programs.

“As markets mature, usually regulation follows,” said Hickey. “Regulation is always a concern, for sure. And it’s going to happen.”



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