FanDuel is coming to Georgia even without sports betting legalization.
The sports betting company announced with the state in May that it was planning to establish a significant office presence in Atlanta. According to an agreement between FanDuel and the state signed in recent days, FanDuel has agreed to lease at least 56,000 square feet at Ponce City Market that will house software development and IT operations. The office could give FanDuel greater leverage to lobby for legalization.
Additionally, FanDuel agreed to invest at least $15.6 million in “lease payments, leasehold improvements, and furniture, fixtures, and equipment.” It must have at least 900 employees there, at an average annual salary of $112,000 plus benefits, according to the agreement.
The online gambling operator is set to receive a $2.25 million grant from the state if it meets the conditions. The grant will be administered through the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, which suggests a commitment to the hiring of local college graduates, but it appears no official plan on that has been formed. No portion of that $2.25 million can be “used to fund machinery and equipment.”
The Atlanta hub was announced in May, with Ponce City Market being unveiled as the location by New York-based FanDuel the following month.
Summer 2022 opening planned
FanDuel expects the new space to be operational by June 1, 2022. That would be with or without legalization of sports betting in the state. FanDuel has five years to fulfill the 900 jobs requirement or it will risk penalties.
“I’m proud to welcome FanDuel to the Peach State, and I look forward to seeing the countless opportunities this project creates for the hardworking Georgians across metro Atlanta,” Gov. Brian Kemp said in May. “FanDuel’s decision to open a tech hub in Georgia is a testament to our world-class universities and tech training programs, as well as the diverse ecosystem of professional sports leagues and teams.”
University System of Georgia Chancellor Steve Wrigley referenced local graduates as well:
“We are excited about this opportunity to partner with FanDuel, with the state’s public colleges and universities offering some of the best courses and advanced technology training in the nation to help it thrive in Atlanta and Georgia. A number of institutions within the University System of Georgia are at the forefront of preparing graduates for careers in this dynamic industry, teaching them critical skills that companies need to create jobs and drive Georgia’s economy.”
No hub in Nashville
Notably, FanDuel has no tech hub in Nashville, despite the Volunteer State having legalized sports betting and FanDuel being live in the market as one of the highest-grossing operators. Nashville is a relatively booming Southern city like Atlanta, so it’s interesting to chew on why.
First off, such an investment in Nashville wasn’t needed to boost lobbying efforts for sports betting. Tennessee moved quickly to pass legislation in 2019, while Georgia remains on the sidelines with no clarity on when it will join the fray. Perhaps FanDuel’s office will make a difference.
Second, Georgia is a more lucrative market. The Peach State has 10.7 million people, with 10.6% population growth between 2010 and 2020, according to U.S. Census figures. Tennessee also had strong growth of 8.9%, but its population is just 6.9 million.
Third, Georgia will likely have a retail betting component. Tennessee is online-only for sports betting, which might seem to make it more ideal for a tech office. It actually probably helps FanDuel more, however, to have a strong physical presence in a state where it will be involved with retail wagering to some extent.
There is likely plenty more that factored into the equation for FanDuel going with Atlanta over Nashville, cities that are only 250 miles apart. Perhaps Atlanta having the nation’s busiest airport was important.
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