FanDuel to open tech hub in Atlanta that promises 900 jobs

The sports gambling giant FanDuel said Tuesday that it will bring more than 900 jobs to metro Atlanta over the next five years to run a new hub that will focus on the company’s product development and IT operations.

The New York-based company plans to spend more than $15 million on the venture, which includes an agreement with the state’s higher education system to train students for careers in the tech industry.

The company’s 68,000-square-foot technology campus will be located in Midtown, and new jobs will be focused on software engineering, product development, information technology and program design. It’s not immediately clear what tax credits and other incentives the sports betting firm will receive.

Gov. Brian Kemp said FanDuel’s decision “is a testament to our world-class universities and tech training programs, as well as the diverse ecosystem of professional sports leagues and teams we’ve cultivated here.”

FanDuel has surged in growth despite the coronavirus pandemic as more states legalize sports betting, cultivating a base of roughly 12 million customers. Its workforce has grown about 40% in recent years.

It is one of the largest daily fantasy sports companies in the world and is the nation’s biggest mobile sportsbook, with online betting sites in 10 states, though Georgia isn’t one of them.

Efforts to amend the state’s constitution to allow online sports wagering failed in the final days of the legislative session after Democrats in the Georgia House refused to support the measure and there wasn’t enough Republican backing to revive it.

Kemp is among the Republicans who staunchly opposes legalized gambling but has also indicated he wouldn’t stand in the way of a constitutional amendment to allow casinos and betting if a majority of voters backed the idea.

FanDuel has backed efforts across the nation to legalize sports gambling, and state records show the sports betting site has donated more than $70,000 to Georgia lawmakers from both parties since 2016. Company executives said the state’s stance on gambling didn’t factor into the decision.

“We want to bring the excitement of our product to Georgia residents when and if the Legislature decides to take that up. And we’ll support that if they do. But we feel Atlanta is best for our long-term growth,” said Chris Jones, a FanDuel vice president. “We didn’t approach this with the mindset that moving here begets legislation.”

Sarah Butterfass, the company’s chief product officer, said FanDuel was drawn to Georgia because of a diverse talent pool and proximity to other tech companies and higher education institutions.

“We’ve had a period of unprecedented growth, especially with technology hiring,” Butterfass said in an interview, highlighting the region’s diversity and wealth of historically Black colleges and universities.

“We have a very diverse customer base,” she said. “And if you think about how we’re building out the best product, we know we need to build with a diverse workforce.”

Part of FanDuel’s project also includes an agreement it will have an “active company presence” on college campuses, at onsite events and job fairs. The firm will also provide career workshops and mentoring programs with local communities.

Steve Wrigley, the head of the state’s higher education system, touted the agreement as a way to help FanDuel leverage “some of the best courses and advanced technology training in the nation to help it thrive in Atlanta and Georgia.”

Butterfass said the partnership is similar to a program the company developed in New York.

“And as we look at how we expand,” she said, “we want to make sure we can build out the core components of our culture to Atlanta.”