Daily fantasy sports (DFS) and sports betting platforms have sprung up throughout the country, and DFS behemoth FanDuel has chosen Atlanta to establish firm roots.
FanDuel views its location in Atlanta’s Ponce City Market as a nerve center for developing its software and products. It’s another tech company that sees the fertile Georgia business landscape and has decided to nestle in.
At the moment, Georgia sports betting is still illegal, but that is not for a lack of trying. In the 2023 legislative session, lawmakers presented six bills that addressed sports betting in some capacity. Depending on whether sports betting is passed via a constitutional amendment or a legislative statute, Georgians should not expect legal sports wagering in the Peach State until 2024 or 2025.
FanDuel plans to entrench itself in Georgia’s strong economic marketplace
FanDuel cut the ribbon on the 68,000-square-foot office last December, planning the space to allow for easy collaboration with nearby sports venues, like Mercedes Benz Arena, Truist Park and Atlanta Motor Speedway.
FanDuel anticipates expanding its workspace to bring on 900 new employees over the next five years. That’s jobs for Georgians in a rapidly growing market, one that should only continue to develop as more states, such as Ohio and Massachusetts, bring legal sports betting online.
This makes the new Georgia tech hub a unique case, as the state has not been able to pass sports betting through the Georgia General Assembly. PlayGeorgia spoke with Sarah Butterfass, chief product officer for FanDuel, about the decision to establish such a footprint in Atlanta, and what is ahead for the company in Georgia.
For FanDuel, Atlanta’s tech sector, education system and southern hospitality were large draws in its decision to set up shop in Ponce City Market.
“Atlanta gave FanDuel access to a thriving tech market and the opportunity to build a diverse workforce in a welcoming community from the area’s renowned educational institutions,” Butterfass said. “When we looked at the Ponce City Market location, we found it offered a blend of old-world charm, cutting-edge sophistication and modern amenities that have delivered an unmatched working environment.”
Ponce City Market’s roots run deep in Atlanta
Old-world charm, indeed. Ponce City Market, as many Atlantans are familiar with, was the home of a Sears, Roebuck, & Co. retail and office space, opening its doors in 1926. Formally closing to retail foot traffic in 1979, the 2.1 million-square-foot facility remained an active Sears office until 1987.
After being acquired by the city of Atlanta in 1991, the location was dubbed ‘City Hall East’ and served as a center for city offices and events. The property was sold in 2010 to real estate investment firm Jamestown, with eyes on developing the space into a mixed-use market amid the growth and development of the Old Fourth Ward and the BeltLine, Atlanta’s future walking corridor.
Jamestown’s purchase and establishment of Ponce City Market laid the groundwork for much of the area’s recent rise, and the resulting infrastructure and local amenities have proven a perk to Butterfass’ team at FanDuel’s Ponce City Market hub.
“Our team benefits from direct access to the Atlanta BeltLine, furnished corporate apartments, bike storage and child day care center on-site, as well as an array of food, entertainment and wellness options,” Butterfass said.
FanDuel remains bullish on sports betting in Georgia
With five bills designed to enact legal sports betting in Georgia dying in the Legislature and one sports betting still up for debate, FanDuel remains bullish on the state’s future regarding sports betting:
“We’re proud of the fact that we’ve been able to partner with Georgia to bring high-paying tech jobs to the city of Atlanta and look forward to continued conversations about how we can pass a bill in the state,” Butterfass stated. “We continue to be optimistic about the opportunity in Georgia. Polling has consistently shown a majority of Peach State residents support online sports betting, and Georgians placed $4.4 billion in illegal bets last year. In the future, we hope to see those bets placed in a safe and regulated environment.”
FanDuel Sportsbook was hoping to add Georgia into the fold of states that have adopted sports betting legislation, but unless a last-ditch effort to pass sports betting passes the Legislature, it’s likely the next General Assembly is the soonest Georgia will legalize sports betting.
FanDuel will continue to focus on building out its corporate footprint in the Peach State and fostering relationships with Georgia’s post-secondary education system to create programs for Georgians to build tech-centric skillsets.
“Our focus is to continue to build our team at Ponce Market, and we’re doing that by reinvesting in cooperative training programs through strategic partnerships with Georgia’s first-class university system, local private colleges, HBCUs and other non-traditional educational programs,” Butterfass said.
“These partnerships have allowed us to assist in shaping structured curriculums inclusive of developing business acumen and insight while fueling a robust pipeline of diverse talent that meets our growth needs for years to come. This has helped FanDuel become part of the fabric of the Atlanta corporate community.”
Sports betting running out of time in 2023
Should the Georgia Legislature find a way to pass House Bill 237 before March 29, the last day of the legislative session, Georgia could see live betting by Super Bowl 2024. If that were the case, FanDuel would certainly be among the first operators to apply for an online license with a Georgia pro sports team or through its own untethered online sportsbook.
With only a handful of legislative sessions remaining, lawmakers still have a lot of work to do to get HB 237 through both chambers and to Gov. Brian Kemp for a final signature.