Posts Tagged ‘DraftKings’

DraftKings Sponsoring WPT European Championship

 DraftKings Sponsoring WPT European Championship

Daily fantasy sports (DFS) leader DraftKings has signed on as a sponsor of the World Poker Tour (WPT) European Championship, this per a press release issued by the WPT. The poker festival will be held at the Speilbank Casino in Berlin, Germany from January 5th through January 10th, with the Main Event beginning January 10th.

DraftKings will be sending eight people to the WPT European Championship via daily fantasy qualifiers. Three of these contests have already taken place; the next one is an NFL DFS contest scheduled for this Thursday, Thanksgiving Day in the United States. The entry fee is $ 75 and the contest has a maximum capacity of 119 entries. The top prize is a WPT European Championship package, while the second through fifth place finishers will win cash.

The winner’s prize package includes a €3,300 seat in the WPT European Championship, a six-night hotel stay in Berlin during the festival, and $ 1,500 to pay for flights and other travel expenses.

DraftKings is also running satellites in to the main qualifier starting at 25 cents.

“It is with great pleasure that we welcome industry leader DraftKings as a sponsor for the Season XVI WPT European Championship,” said World Poker Tour CEO Adam Pliska in a press release. “We look forward to providing a great experience for World Poker Tour players.”

DraftKings and the World Poker Tour have worked together in the past. In 2013, DraftKings became the WPT’s exclusive daily fantasy sports partner. With that came all the expected marketing efforts: advertising at WPT events, DFS qualifiers for the WPT tournaments, and the sponsorship of the events’ live streams. Anywhere it could, DraftKings would establish tie-ins to the World Poker Tour and try to court poker players.

As legal entanglements for DraftKings grew a couple years later, the sponsorship ended, presumably so the company could focus its time and money on battling state lawmakers and Attorneys General.

DraftKings also sponsored the World Series of Poker in 2014 and 2015. The DFS leader was actually the most represented at the 2014 Main Event final table, with three players wearing a DraftKings patch. There was even an event named after the site in 2014: the $ 1,500 DraftKings 50/50, an unusually structured tournament in which half the field made the money. This echoed a popular DFS tournament format, one where players sacrifice the chance for excessive winnings at the top of the standings in exchange for a much better chance to profit.

In 2015, Max Steinberg qualified for the World Series of Poker Main Event via DraftKings and went on to finish fourth in the tournament. Unfortunately for him (an odd thing to say for someone who almost won the Main Event), he was unable to wear a DraftKings patch because the Nevada Gaming Commission ruled that DFS qualified as sports betting and thus DFS sites had to have a license to operate in Nevada. As a result, DraftKings had to withdraw its sponsorship of the WSOP shortly before the Main Event final table.

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DraftKings, FanDuel to Merge

 DraftKings, FanDuel to Merge

We all knew it was coming, but on Friday morning, DraftKings and FanDuel announced that they have agreed to a merger, a deal which will create a company that will have a virtual monopoly on the daily fantasy sports industry.

Per the press release, DraftKings CEO Jason Robbins will be the new company’s Chief Executive and FanDuel CEO Nigel Eccles will be the Chairman of the Board. The Board of Directors will consist of three people from each of DraftKings and FanDuel with one independent director.

No financial terms have been released, but ESPN.com’s David Purdum reported that sources close to negotiations have indicated that the merger will likely be 50/50.

The companies cite “operational efficiencies and cost savings” as benefits of the merger, as well as the ability to allow for a “greater focus on developing new products and features, including more variety in contest formats, loyalty programs, enhanced social functionality and ancillary sports-oriented content and experiences, all aimed at creating a more diverse, exciting and appealing experience for fantasy sports players and all sports fans.”

Of course, the former rivals also see the merger as a vehicle towards quicker profitability, as well.

The press release continued:

The combined company will be able to invest in strategic partnerships across the sports ecosystem. Media, advertising and other partners will benefit from access to more products and customers as a result of DraftKings and FanDuel’s diverse user base and league relationships, as well as increased investment in advertising. Together, the combined entity can accelerate growth of the fantasy sports category, drive broader and deeper fan engagement, and more efficiently reach those players.

One of the major cost savings that people around the industry are looking at is a reduction in combined legal costs. Both companies have been engaged in legal struggles and lobbying efforts on the state level, draining their coffers of funds to the point where it has been reported that they are having trouble paying the bills. Combining forces allows them to eliminate many of these redundant costs.

Interestingly, at least one competitor hopes the merger passes regulatory hurdles. DRAFT founder and CEO Jeremy Levine told ESPN.com that he essentially sees the combined company being able to pave the way for the “little guys.”

“Prior to the tumult of the past year, FanDuel and DraftKings were well on their way to becoming multibillion-dollar pillar business[es] in sports,” he said. “There still will be massive business built in this space, but it won’t be FanDuel or DraftKings individually. Due to the merger, the opportunity is now there for the few companies that were able to survive and strengthen in the past year.”

If the merger gets the ok from regulators – and that’s a big “if,” considering DraftKings and FanDuel own around 90 percent of the daily fantasy sports market – the deal is expected to be completed in the second half of next year. In the meantime, the two sites will continue to operate separately. At this time, it is not known what the name of the new company will be.

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DraftKings Launches Leagues

 DraftKings Launches Leagues

Love daily fantasy sports but aren’t thrilled with the “daily” part of it? Well DraftKings has just the thing for you. Kind of. It is still “daily” fantasy sports, but DraftKings’ new “Leagues” injects the added twist of being able to play all season long with your buddies!

Traditional fantasy sports are great fun. You get together with your friends for the draft – mostly online nowadays, but many still make a holiday of it and have a live draft bash – and then spend the entire season talking trash and offering up ludicrous trades. Amongst friends, even fantasy leagues (known as “rotisserie” leagues back when I was a youth) played for no money can be a blast, as off-season bragging rights make the champion feel superior to his stupid opponents.

In daily fantasy, though, that camaraderie, that friendly hatred, isn’t there. Instead, it is actual hatred, as all of your opponents are strangers and all obviously cheating because there’s no way anyone know Marcus Mariota was going to go off like that. The personal fun of fantasy is gone with DFS, though you also don’t have to deal with people dropping out over the course of the year (or you yourself can stop playing with no repercussions).

DraftKings aims to bring the best of both worlds together with Leagues. Anyone can start a league on DraftKings and invite friends to join. From there, the members of the league play in DFS contests selected by the league’s commissioner, just as they might normally. The games can be for money or can be for free, whatever everyone agrees upon. And that’s really the gist of it – play DFS against your buddies year-round.

There is no requirement for players to participate in every contest in their league. Of course, they won’t have the chance to climb their league’s leaderboard and earn bragging rights if they don’t play frequently, but that’s really up to the players and how they want to handle shame. Commissioners can also setup recurring contests so that everyone knows ahead of time what to expect.

There’s not much to Leagues, but it sounds like a pretty cool offering. I mean, might as well, right? And what’s nice is that it’s not like it will get in the way of the regular contests; aside from a player’s DFS budget, there’s no reason someone can’t participate in a league and play in their normal GPP’s and what-not. For DraftKings, it will not only likely result in happier players, but should also bring new customers to the table. Players can invite their friends to their league via text, e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter, and those invitees don’t need to be current DraftKings customers to receive the invite. Thus, Leagues will inevitably get new people aboard the DFS train.

Leagues launched on Tuesday, just in time for the start of the NFL season, which is less than a month away.

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Canadian Football League, DraftKings Forge Partnership

 Canadian Football League, DraftKings Forge Partnership

For American sports fans, this time of year is the doldrums of the sports calendar. The professional hockey and basketball seasons just ended (college seasons ended a while ago), college football is two months away, and the NFL season is more than two months away. Right now, it’s just baseball, which is cool and all, but the middle of the baseball season just doesn’t excite. Last week, though, was the opening week of the Canadian Football League (CFL) and with it came a new alliance between the CFL and DraftKings.

Just in time for the opening kickoff, DraftKings launched CFL contests, the centerpiece of which was the CFL $ 50K Kickoff Special, featuring a $ 50,000 guaranteed prize pool, a $ 5,000 first prize, and payouts down to 435 spots. The usual types of games were all there, from 50/50’s to heads-up matches to smaller guaranteed prize pool contests. Scoring format is similar to what players should be used to from American football games with some slight adjustments for the differences between the NFL and CFL.

The CFL also announced that it has entered into an advertising and promotional agreement with DraftKings.

“We’re pleased to form an advertising and promotional partnership with DraftKings that will elevate both of our brands,” CFL Senior Vice President of Marketing and Content Christina Litz said in a press release. “This new fantasy offering will give avid CFL fans and sports fans new to our league an opportunity to deepen their engagement with our game. It’s an important part of our strategy to serve our existing fan base better than ever before at the same time we attract new fans, including the next generation of fans.”

The key here is the CFL using this relationship to attract new fans. While the National Football League has been popular for decades, its rise to the top of American professional sports and into the immortal beast that it is has a lot to do with sports betting and fantasy sports. Football is by far the most popular sport on which Americans wager – much of that has to do with the infrequency of games and a scoring system that lends itself perfectly to spread-based betting. It is this gambling, combined with season-long fantasy – and now daily fantasy – that has driven much of the popularity of the game. Betting and fantasy sports give non-fans something to pay attention to and fans of single teams (as most of us are) an interest in all of the games, even ones between two terrible teams.

With this partnership, the Canadian Football League is attempting to follow in the footsteps of the NFL, even if that footstep is much smaller and way behind. Most Americans know nothing about the CFL, except that it is a league populated by players who couldn’t make NFL teams. But if CFL contests can attract any sort of reasonable percentage of DraftKings players, the league could see an uptick in its viewership, traffic to the league website, and the like as fantasy players investigate CFL games more.

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DraftKings, FanDuel to End College Sports DFS Contests

 DraftKings, FanDuel to End College Sports DFS Contests

This weekend marks the end of the college basketball season and with it, the end of college sports contests on daily fantasy sports (DFS) sites DraftKings and FanDuel. The two DFS leaders announced Thursday that after Monday’s championship game of the men’s NCAA basketball tournament, they will cease offering contests on college sports.

Gambling on college sports, while extremely prevalent, has always been more controversial than gambling in professional sports. And since many (most?) people consider DFS gambling, DFS games based on college sports have been a sticky issue.

According to ESPN.com, though, the decision to stop college sports contests shouldn’t hurt the daily fantasy sports sites. College basketball and football combined make up only 3 percent of FanDuel’s revenue. As ESPN.com put it, “the NFL daily fantasy market is 10 to 20 times larger than the college football market.”

In a statement posted on its website, FanDuel said of the decision:

As a leader in calling for smart, common sense regulations for the fantasy sports industry, FanDuel has had months of productive conversations with the NCAA, their member institutions, and various state legislators to better understand their concerns around fantasy sports contests based on amateur athletics. It is clear that this is an issue that matters to a variety of constituencies and we feel that the best path forward is to suspend offering these contests pending resolution on the issue within state legislatures.

It added:

The NCAA’s home state of Indiana and our home state of New York were two of the first states to take up this debate. Indiana has passed and New York is considering fantasy sports laws that protect consumers, protect the right to play fantasy sports, AND contain carve-outs stating fantasy contests involving amateur sports are barred in their states. The Massachusetts Attorney General issued regulations with a similar carve-out. We supported all of these efforts, and going forward we will actively support bills containing the same provisions. We are pleased that we can work together with the NCAA on smart regulations for the fantasy sports industry.

In a statement published by ESPN.com, NCAA president Mark Emmert expressed his gratitude for the concession made by DraftKings and FanDuel:

We appreciate and commend DraftKings and FanDuel’s action to stop offering contests involving college, high school and youth sports,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said in a statement issued Thursday. “This action culminates months of hard work between all parties to reach a place that is good for amateur sports and most importantly, the young people who participate. We will work diligently with our member schools over the coming year to ensure such amateur sports ‘carve outs’ are included in pending states’ legislation.

As FanDuel mentioned, of the three states that have enacted DFS regulations, Massachusetts and Indiana have specifically included language that prohibits DFS sites from offering contests on amateur sports, which includes college sports. ESPN notes that of the 30 states to introduce DFS legislation this year, though, only five have included a ban on college sports.

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