Tag Archives: dailyfantasy

FanDuel and DraftKings reportedly in merger talks – Bloomberg

DraftKings and Fan Duel are in merger talks, Bloomberg News is reporting.
The two biggest players in the Fantasy Sports space have been discussing a merger for some time, according to Bloomberg, which is citing sources.
The private companies have been battling various state regulators over whether fantasy is really just a form of illegal gambling. New York, for instance, banned the companies from doing business earlier this year.

FANTASY: Employees at fantasy companies bet at rival sites with inside information
Read more here.

American Pharoah and Other Summer’s Top Stories

By Terry Lyons @terrylyons, Contributing Columnist for @TheDailyPayoff

In the eastern USA, it’s getting dark at 7pm, the networks have concluded their endless broadcasting of meaningless NFL preseason games and, for you Steely Dan fans out there, the Wolverine is on its way towards Annandale.

Which means, summer is almost over.


There’s been plenty of news posted on The Daily Payoff during the past two months but maybe, like me, you’ve been preoccupied, reading those trashy paperback novels, listening to the sounds of summer at the beach or watching the Red Sox stumble to another last place finish.

To be sure you’re up-to-speed, I’m shaking the sand out of the beach chair and my reporter’s notebook to review a few important occurrences which took place during the past two months while we were all Gone Fishin’.

1. Triple Crown winner American Pharoah took the track at Monmouth Park for The Haskell and did not disappoint a New Jersey record 60, 983 horse racing fans who turned out to see the champ continue his winning ways after a 58-day lay-off from the historic win at the Belmont Stakes. Pharoah then was saddled up for The Travers at Saratoga and the track’s reputation as the “Graveyard of Champions” remained intact as longshot “Keen Ice” upset the triple crown winner. On October 31, all eyes will be on American Pharoah at the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland which is expected to be the colt’s last race before heading out to stud and a cool $150,000 per pop. What a horse! What a life!

2. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) declined jurisdiction over the plight of Northwestern University football players seeking to register as a union. The unanimous decision by the NLRB avoided involvement in the hot potato of “student athlete” rights as they pertain to the NCAA, but it noted the ruling pertained to State-run universities and did not address private schools. The issue of paying collegiate players to play remains a possibility and the case it likely to be appealed to Federal Court.

3. Speaking of Federal cases, DeflateGate was resolved, at least temporarily, when Judge Richard Berman of the US Federal Court, Southern District of New York vacated Tom Brady’s four-game suspension. The judge also took the NFL to task on various procedures of its flimsy Wells Report and subsequent hearing before “Cop-Judge-Jury” Commissioner Roger Goodell. Remember, it all began on January 18, 2015 and could have been resolved by January 20 with some foresight by the NFL and the Patriots. Overall, the entire process has been a colossal waste of time and, ultimately tax-payers money. While it’s now subject to the NFL’s appeal, the entire ridiculous fairytale was possibly a giant smoke-screen left to cover the NFL’s more problematic player image headlines, like Ray Rice and several other domestic violence cases.

4. Although dozens of popular and admirable athletes, executives and administrators have passed away in 2015, some taken far too early, it’s important to recognize the passing of former NY Giants star Frank Gifford. Known to so many as the chiseled and competent anchor of Monday Night Football from 1971 to 1998, Gifford passed away from natural causes on August 9th, a week before his 85th birthday. He was lauded for his pioneering role in transitioning from athlete to broadcaster. Rest in Peace to Giff.

5. Before the 2015 NFL season kicks-off, the two industry leaders of Daily Fantasy Sports, Draft Kings and Fan Duel, will have spent a combined $110 million dollars – just on TV ads, with a reported $86.2 million attributed to Draft Kings, according to combined reports by ispot.tv and Kantar Media. Those figures do not – repeat NOT – include the millions spent on radio, digital and traditional billboard and print advertising deals. As the popular and DFS friendly NFL season kicks-off on September 10 and continues with its full schedule on September 13, the barrage of advertising done by Draft Kings and Fan Duel, already ubiquitous, will reach spending levels only approached in prior years by the beer companies. Jason Robbins, CEO of Draft Kings, and Nigel Eccles, the head of Fan Duel, can both be crowned as the most powerful men in sports in 2015.

6. On August 25, the Third US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the State of New Jersey to uphold prior verdicts that NJ’s plans to authorize sports betting were a violation of the federal law, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. The court’s ruling points any future movement in the legalization of sports betting to Congress. Vocal NJ State Senator Ray Lesniak will need to ramp up efforts at the Congressional level, not via his own’s state government, to make any further progress. In the past, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who opposed the efforts in NJ, has written that he and the league support a federally legislated and regulated law to allow sports gambling. The late August ruling will shelve the issue for years to come, unless you believe Congress can actually get something done?

7. Boston 2024 is no longer. Since I dedicated an entire column to the issue on July 8, I will spare readers from past details of Boston’s inept bid and the politics surrounding every decision. Instead, I must note the lost opportunity of hosting an Olympic Games has most Boston and Massachusetts residents singing “Hallelujah,” while some of us wonder if our generation will accomplish anything of significance or just continue to complain about everything and do nothing? The US Olympic Committee and the City of Los Angeles quickly moved forward and have plans to nominate LA as a potential host of the 2024 Games, but the City of Angels will face very stiff competition from the likes of Rome and Paris for the IOC’s blessing to host the youth of the world in 2024. My money is on Paris.

Yahoo’s Strategic Play Takes A Kick At DraftKings

By @TheDailyPayoff

Yahoo’s latest move could get them a leg up on DraftKings in the pay fantasy soccer space.

Last month Yahoo announced and then launched its daily pay fantasy platform, with an eye on using its deep roots in fantasy to take some of the larger space away from rivals Fan Duel and DraftKings. The move is aimed at carving its own piece in what is hoped to be a large daily pie as we move closer to the start of the lucrative NFL season.

However an interesting twist, reported by Darren Heitner of Forbes on Monday, could give a glimpse into another area which has suddenly become hot in the pay fantasy space, soccer.

Heitner reports that Mondogoal, the company with an established gambling license and growing ties in European soccer pay fantasy, has entered into a revenue sharing partnership to operate Yahoo’s pay soccer fantasy platform when European soccer gets going later this month. The strategic move, according to the story, put Yahoo immediately into the global soccer game ahead of DraftKings, who only recently applied for the required gambling license to operate in the UK.

It is a smart, quick strategic partnership that could score huge traffic for Mondogoal and their existing partnerships with clubs like Liverpool, Chelsea and AS Roma, and it gives Yahoo a much-needed operational partner to operate a game in a sport they don’t have a platform for, while they continue to push the already lucrative NFL and coming NBA market where they already have traction in the States.

Heitner’s full story can be seen at http://www.forbes.com/sites/darrenheitner/2015/08/03/yahoo-adds-daily-fantasy-soccer-signs-revenue-sharing-deal/

Daily Fantasy: Is Simpler Better?

By Joe Favorito @JoeFav @TheDailyPayoff

With Yahoo moving heavily into the daily pay fantasy space to challenge market leaders DraftKings and Fan Duel, the rumors swirl that other big media companies will follow suit to expand their fantasy offerings at some point,.
But the question still remains over market size; especially growing the market size vs. splitting up the existing pie continue to exist.
Yahoo’s move into the pay fantasy space makes sense because of the time its executives have already spent in the traditional fantasy business and their extensive work in search over the years that my give them insight into where and who to engage. If it can translate those casual searchers already on their platform into engaged fantasy players who can now win cash, their business grows.

However the one key factor that all these platforms need, and the one factor that remains a possibility for smaller players, is simplicity. The casual fan remains to see pay fantasy as a daunting task. No time to understand or plan for large drafts and to do research, especially for baseball, mean that simple, almost lottery-type games that translate easily to a mobile environment, might be the golden opportunity.

“The ‘casual’ fan wants simplicity so that they can participate in fantasy football contests. The two big players are far from simple and cater to the avid, GM type fan,” said Chris Johnson, founder of another startup in the space, Top3 Fantasy Sports, www.top3fantasysports.com, which will launch this fall around the NFL season. “The ‘casual’ US fan base is gigantic, however, all of the games on the market are all similar in nature, caps, trades, waivers, etc. Fans are clamoring for simplicity and Top3 has created it. Top3 eliminates all of the confusion and complexity.”

Still that lack of complexity needs marketing to break through the clutter, and although Johnson understands that louder draws the attention in marketing, he still sees that the growing pie, especially around big events, may migrate to simple games. Those games are attractive when fans can spend a little, win a lot, and not have to be distracted for more than minutes at a time.

“Select which QB you believe will score the most fantasy points on any given Sunday wins a big cash prize,” he added. “Like fans do for the Kentucky Derby, easy as 1.2.3. Select based on matchups, your favorite team or whatever suits your fancy and have fun! No need to have a PHD to join.”

Simpler the better, is what Johnson and many smaller challengers like DraftPot and others are banking on, literally. Will the big media companies making the noise also go that route more deeply, or will their marketing noise grow the pie for all. That will be the million dollar business challenge.

Mr. Million Dollar Fantasy Golf Winner

By @TheDailyPayoff

Million dollar Draft Kings US Open fantasy golf winner Carl Bassewitz (right) and his son, Beau, get a priceless experience, taking batting practice at Fenway Park in Boston a day after he visited the DK headquarters offices to accept ceremonial check and his winnings. Bassewitz won the $1M “Millionaire Maker” prize with a single $20 entry when Dustin Johnson three-putted the final hole at recent U.S. Open at Chambers Bay. He had picked Jordan Spieth to win over Johnson.

World Cup Fantasy Could Open Door to Olympic Fantasy

By Joe Favorito @Joefav @TheDailyPayoff

The success and proof of concept that Mondogoal achieved these past two weeks with Women’s World Cup showed that select niche mega-events can draw both dollars and attention.

DraftKings and other smaller companies have been looking to golf as a new growing platform because it is simple, mobile and can be played in and around live event. Their their million dollar winner for the US Open demonstrated a growing market not just for golfers but for millennials who may never play a four-hour round on a Saturday.

As we move closer to the one year out celebration that countries all over the world will put on for Rio, it’s interesting to start thinking about the permutations of Olympic fantasy and how it would work. New sports coming into Rio, golf especially, can easily be adapted to a pay fantasy model, and team sports like basketball are ripe for an engagement game.

Parlay the fact that the International Olympic Committee earlier this year approved legal sports books in Nevada to carry betting lines for next summer’s games, and that means that a deeper analytic dive will be made by betting houses around the world to find ways to create interest in sports like swimming and other individual sports as well. Fantasy gymnastics, anyone?

Maybe not gymnastics, as individual sports outside the mainstream may be too difficult to create an audience for. However for key team sports, and add in a growing sport like rugby which will be in the games for the first time and has a strong tie to traditional gambling play, and other mainstream team sports in the Games, and you have interesting opportunities for pay fantasy alongside traditional gambling being done legally from Las Vegas.

The interest in fantasy and gambling will not be lost on rights holder NBC as well. The recent numbers by the Fantasy Sports Trade Association show that the more fantasy play involved with sport, the more the viewer is engaged in the broadcast and all pieces that go along with engagement. Since the Olympics traditionally skew viewers that are older and more female, the goal is to find a younger and more engaged audience, and an investment in fantasy play may be smart, at least for American audience engagement for 2016.

“There is no doubt that pay fantasy is growing in engagement, the question is still how do you make it simple and appealing to a wide audience of casual fans, and there is no bigger event other than the Super Bowl that gathers casual fans like the Olympics,” said Chris Lencheski, longtime marketer and currently running the consulting business Phoenicia. “The amount of data available for the Olympics so vast, the broadcasters want more engagement, and the marketing dollars are there. While it might not be a huge playing audience for 2016, it can set the table for the future just like this Women’s World Cup game has, so it will be interesting to see who steps up to engage.”

While Yahoo has said they will make a big play in the pay fantasy space this fall, most other media companies have gone the partner route, looking for revenue share and advertising dollars from the bigger pay fantasy players thus far. Could that change if the marketplace shows an interest going forward? NBC has done a great job in creative engagement around its properties, and added engagement for the Olympics in the form of pay fantasy would be an intriguing look.

If it worked for WWC, maybe it can work for the Olympics as well.

DraftKings’ UK Gambling License Bid Stirs Debate


By Frank Scandale @FScandale @TheDailyPayoff

Daily Fantasy player Draft Kings’ plan to obtain a gambling license in the UK is seen as a shrewd move to gain a foothold in the international market.
It is also viewed as a risky move to catch its larger rival that could tarnish its image as a fantasy player by plunging into the gambling sector, and upset its NFL and network backers.
Either way, the move is fueling speculation of what this means for daily fantasy sports, who some see will be played by 100 million people within three years.

Adam Krejcik, a partner in Eilers Research that studies the digital and interactive gaming industry, suggests why neither daily fantasy sports player has targeted the UK at this point.
“They are focusing their money and resources on the US,” he says, adding, “Once you enter into the international market, you have to file for a gambling license, which might seem hypocritical since you have maintained DFS is not gambling.”

He said FanDuel probably saw that issue, but DraftKings “feels the time is right to enter this market and doesn’t feel like this should be an issue.”
Eisler also noted the risks involved go beyond its image as a non-gambling site.
“The market itself has not been proven yet either. You have to build a team and an office, get a license and then market and acquire customers over there,” Eisler said.

Yet, Draft Kings did not make this move without consulting with its strategic US investors, including networks and pro teams.
“I would not have expected them to make this move without having discussion with shareholders who are strategically aligned,” he said. “And then at the end of the day they must have felt comfortable.”

DraftKings did not respond to requests for comment for this story.

As for the NFL, which has approved one-year partnerships with league approval, the league remains on the sidelines, he says, but are not letting its teams invest directly into DFS companies. For New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, for instance, has an investment into DK through Kraft Sports Group and not subject to the same rules as teams.
“For other investors, generally speaking, there is a shift. The sports leagues themselves are becoming more open-minded when it comes to sports and gambling.”

Rick Wolf, president of Fantasy Alarm and co-founder of Fantasy Sports Trade Association (FSTA), sees the move as a smart diversification of Draft Kings core business.
“One of the key misnomers is that fantasy sports players are gamblers,” he said. “In research from the FSTA that has 56.8M people in North America playing, the number who wager regularly on sports is very small. It is not a cross over play, but a new business and really, why not?”
Wolf also sees the NFL and MLB, for instance, supporting fantasy sports in general, and will react to DK’s move depending on their own respective agreements and their own views, not to mention the views of the public.

“The public is smart and knows that fantasy sports is not gambling so I don’t think this is an issue for them,” Wolf said. “…and the cross over is small. To me it is just a diversification into a completely different business vertical with similar software needs.”

Another supporter of the diversification move is Darren Heitner, a sports and entertainment attorney based in Miami, who said the move makes perfect sense as it positions the company well should the United States eventually relax its overall stance on gambling on the federal level.
“It (makes sense) for multiple reasons,” Heitner said. “The chief justification being that Draft Kings can test out a proprietary gambling platform that is ready to be implemented in the United States should the federal law preventing widespread gambling (PASPA) be amended or revoked. Furthermore, it will allow for an extension of the brand on a worldwide scale, which could open doors for the proliferation of its fantasy-related offerings. Additionally, it may believe that there is market share to grab — making sense from the most basic premise that it has a platform that could generate additional revenue at a reasonable cost.”

Regardless of all the factors surrounding DFS, Heitner thinks most decisions will be based on business bottom line outcomes. While the NFL has its concerns about gambling and pro sports, he thinks the league would be taking a contradictory position if it were to chastise Draft Kings for implementing a gambling operation overseas, as it seeks to expand its product into the UK.
He said the NFL continues to expand the number of games played in the UK and “would love to have a team based there.”

“It is well aware of the amount of gambling that occurs within the UK orders,” Heitner said. “The leagues may claim that gambling runs contrary to maintaining the integrity of the game, but the bottom line is the bottom line.”

Same for investors. They will look at the strengths and weaknesses of entering such an industry in a particular market and then decide what opportunities and threats exist, Heitner said.

As for television partners , Heitner doesn’t see a problem.
“ESPN has to be quite thankful that the World Series of Poker became such a hot commodity,” he said. “Again, it should be about what this expansion does for the bottom line.
“If the operation is legal where the platform is offered, then the conversation over perception should be a nonstarter. I go back to the NFL harping on the fact that the potential of gamblijng threatens the integrity of the game. Yet, the NFL expands the number of games played in London year-over-year and would love to have a team based in the UK.”

ESPN and DraftKings recently inked a partnership deal worth a reported $250 million, according to The Boston Globe and other media sources. ( http://www.betaboston.com/news/2015/06/24/draftkings-wins-big-espn-ad-deal-but-no-word-on-investment-rumors/)

For a unique perspective on fantasy sports and the UK, Mondogoal’s founder and CEO talked about his early success there.

Shegul Arshad said his operation, which focuses on online fantasy soccer, entered the UK last summer for the World Cup with a soft launch. He has a unique perspective as the DFS landscape continues to evolve.
Incorporated in the Isle of Man with a US headquarters in Boston, Mondogoal offers cash and non-cash games for players, depending on where the individual is located and what the regional gambling rules are.

“It’s certainly a strange move, if you ask me,” he says of the Draft Kings move. “For a US-based company to go over there, it’s a strange move given the fact so many states and jurisdictions are being looked at.”

However, Arshad is optimistic because if Draft Kings is successful overseas, it will help the industry grow overall.
“If the pie grows, we are all taking slices of the pie,” he said.
He wishes them well because now if someone searches the report they heard that Draft Kings is coming to the UK, it will help drive traffic to all fantasy sports sites.
“Any new entrant and credible dollars that go into the market place, will help educate about daily fantasy, and at the end of the day, if awareness ratchets up, there will be multiple winners across the board.”

Fantasy and Reality: Nando DiFino Explains

By Joe Favorito @JoeFav @TheDailyPayoff

With the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Summer Convention being held in New York earlier this week, Nando DiFino, Executive Producer and Manager of Content for Anthem Media Group and their platforms on Fantasy Sports Network and Sirius XM, expounded on his view of the landscape these days.

One of the eye-popping stats he offered: 100 million people will be playing daily fantasy sports in three years.

A young veteran of the space, DiFino has helped create and manage Fantasy News and Business at CBS Interactive, AOL, the Wall Street Journal and other places.
We talked to him about his career, and the growing fantasy business today.

How did you get your start in sports media?

It was the SportsTicker — probably one of the greatest rooms I’ve ever worked in. A bunch of guys loving sports, scoring games, inputting them into computers that would blast the results out to the places the Ticker served. I worked there when I was in grad school, mainly nights and weekends. I loved that job. I loved everyone who worked there. That job was the main part of my resume that got me working for Sam Walker on Fantasyland. From there, it all snowballed.

The fantasy sports business is growing, how big can it be in the next few years?

Five years ago, fantasy players were still carrying a nerdy stigma. Now, I go to meetings, and everyone has a brother who plays, or a son. My wife has two leagues. Fantasy football is going to lead the charge because it’s so prevalent in society and pop culture, and daily fantasy’s wide reach has opened eyes in places regular fantasy had failed to penetrate. This will be huge. 100 million people will be playing by 2018.

Where and how can we see your work on The Fantasy Sports Network?

We are on several cable outlets (Cablevision, Bell Fibe, several more), we’re on XBOXes now. Roku, Amazon Fire, you can stream us on FNTSY.com. We’re growing at a rate quicker than we had anticipated.

Some still don’t understand the difference between gambling and pay fantasy, is there one?

There is. It’s a blurry line sometimes, and it’s easy to just point and say “fantasy is gambling,” but fantasy really does require a skill. Put your time in, research it, and you can do really well. The best gamblers in the world may win 55 percent of the time. The best fantasy players in the world can be up in the 70s or 80s.

What professionals helped shape your career?

Michael Epstein, a producer at ESPN, put me on TV and taught me to just be normal. He also taught me to always hold a pen when I’m talking so my hands aren’t doing weird things. Matthew Berry (ESPN) is a tremendous mentor; he doesn’t like to be inside the box and offers really great, selfless advice whenever I need it. Sam Walker (WSJ) pushed me to write and write, even if it wasn’t in a paper or online — do it just to stay sharp. Adam Thompson (WSJ) taught me to be more concise with my words and not be afraid to chop up a run-on sentence. Lou Maione, my current boss, is a dreamer, but in a good way. He’ll have these ideas and do whatever he can to make them a reality. I’ve never seen him defeated by something he really wants to do. And Wayne Loewe at CourtTV taught me how to be a great boss; specifically how to treat people who worked with and for you with respect and understanding that they will get the job done. Everyone who has a staff should search out and take lessons from Wayne Loewe.

Are there members of the media whose careers you followed growing up, and if so, who and why?

Steve Rushin’s SI columns were tremendous. His writing is just so sly and wonderful. Bill Watterson, Gary Larson, and Berkely Breathed could really craft these engaging stories and then draw corresponding photos that deepened them to a degree I never could. I think I own every Calvin and Hobbes, Bloom County, and Far Side book ever made.
I think anyone my age in sports who denied Bill Simmons had anything to do with influencing them is a liar. He is fearless in his pop culture parallels and style. Prime Time Adam Schein was a big radio voice on Syracuse radio growing up. I see him at Sirius once in a while and remind him of that. Jim Henson was huge for me. Everything he did was infused with this multi-layered creative spirit and humor. But you could tell he did his homework, studied things, honed his craft. I love Penn and Teller and the Amazing Johnathan. They catch audiences off guard. I love doing that.

What advice do you give young people trying to get into the business of sports?

Be ready for this to be your part-time job (or a miserable full-time one) for at least five years. Everyone wants to be in sports; the problem in not getting discovered may not be that people are better than you, but it takes a while to turn over every rock if there are 10,000 of them lined up in front of and around you.
Inside the craft, I’d say always remember that the guy you’re ripping to shreds in a column or on TV could have been your college roommate, or your childhood friend. He’s just a dude who is really good at his job, and you’re probably, deep down, just being jealous. Everyone can be negative. It actually takes some creativity and research to find the positive in most situations.

FanDuel Grows NBA Platform

By @TheDailyPayoff

While DraftKings relationship with MLB and their enhancements in golf have given them great buzz this early summer, FanDuel continues its focus on the winter and its two core sports, says its chief executive.
CEO Nigel Eccles said football and basketball remain its focus, taking the opportunity with the NBA Draft Thursday to announced an expansion of its NBA partnerships for the fall at Tuesday’s FSTA Conference in New York,

FanDuel locked in exclusive multi-year partnerships with 13 league franchises – the Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Hornets, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, Orlando Magic and Utah Jazz.
The deal hands FanDuel marketing assets from in-arena digital signage and in-game promotions to digital, TV and radio advertising, among other branding initiatives. FanDuel will also collaborate with the individual organizations to continue to bring unique experiences to fans, including exclusive player meet-and-greets and VIP road trips to events.
“Partnering with these NBA organizations has been an incredible asset to FanDuel’s growth and business. NBA fans comprise a younger, mobile-centric demographic, looking for new ways to engage with their favorite sport, teams and athletes throughout the duration of the season, which is exactly what they get on FanDuel,” said Nigel Eccles, CEO and co-founder, in a release. “We’re going to keep partnering with franchises that recognize FanDuel’s ability to keep fans in their seat with their eyes glued to every game because they have a player on their fantasy team that night.”

During the conference the value of pay fantasy was again backed up by NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum in an interview with Eric Fisher of The Sports Business Journal.
“We have made our stance clear that we do not see pay fantasy as gambling, and it is a prime way for us to engage deeper with our fans,” Tatum said. “Our fans and our teams have made it clear that this is a growing engagement platform and we are excited about continuing to work to enhance our relationship.”

While not exclusive with the NBA, FanDuel has made it clear that their key business objectives and their growth strategy is revolving around the activation and engagement with the NBA, as well as their recently announced partnerships with a majority of the NFL teams. The NFL remains the least engaged league in an official capacity in pay fantasy, with MLB having taken up an equity position with DraftKings and Fan Duel with the NBA. Several NBA teams, including the New York Knicks, have chosen to partner with DraftKings as part of a wider cross-promotional strategy, but Eccles remains bullish on the overall basketball relationship as the core of Fan Duel’s platform in 2015 and beyond.

Draft Kings Seeks Licensing in Great Britain?

By @TheDailyPayoff
Indications are that Draft Kings, the Avis to Fan Duel’s Hertz status in the daily fantasy (DFS) sports arena, is looking to expand oversees, as previously indicated by the organization last December.
Bigo1 mentioned yesterday on Twitter https://twitter.com/Bigo1_/status/611200132080627712 and then Legal Sports Report followed up last night with a full report http://www.legalsportsreport.com/1765/draftkings-uk-license-application/ that Draft Kings had filed an application with the UKGC for the necessary licenses to operate in the United Kingdom.
Legal Sports Report also posted a copy of the application, which apparently seeks approval for gambling software and pool betting.
The move opens up much conversation about the future of DFS on whether it constitutes gambling, and whether Draft Kings is looking at gambling as a business. It also poses the question on if this is true, how Draft Kings’ strategic move be addressed by rival Fan Duel.

Fan Duel, DraftKings Ramp Up Their Content Play

Fan Duel, DraftKings Ramp Up Their Content Play

Last Wednesday at the worldwide headquarters of Topps, media types from outlets big and small gathered to talk to San Francisco Giants star Buster Posey as he talked about his new role as ambassador with the company, as well as the no-hitter he had caught the night before. The usual suspects were there for a piece of Posey, Sports Illustrated, Yahoo, AOL Sports and Fan Duel.

Wait, Fan Duel? Was there a pay fantasy element involved? Nope, but Brandon Lee from the company’s news site, was there asking questions about the no-hitter and the world of trading cards, with nary a fantasy question being bandied about. Why? Good content to keep the die-hard fantasy player more engaged on the site, and through search, to probably pull in more casual fans interested in news for now, but maybe, just maybe, they will become brand loyal enough to join in for a paid daily game or two down the line.

It is a strategy that Fan Duel Insider is embracing more and more, and as expected is also being taken on more and more by DraftKings, who, according to a weekend story in the Boston Globe, have made a huge push in hiring their own editorial staff for their content platform, Playbook, just for the same purpose; provide original non-fantasy content that feeds the needs of the fan while keeping the core player interested and on the site just a little bit longer. Engaged core players may play a bit more, while new fans may come back.

Now this is not to say that the core news and information on both sides won’t be tied to analytics and the core gamer and fantasy news. Providing that audience with core news that helps them address fantasy issues is still tantamount. However, fantasy players cannot live by stats alone, so feeding in additional anecdotal news, video highlights and original content lifts the interest and the engagement of the anyone with an affinity to sports news. The other thing such news may do will keep engaged consumers on the site, versus going to traditional news sites like ESPN or Yahoo or SI.com for the non-fantasy information. If you can hold their attention, the better chance of building more engaged audiences for things other than fantasy.

The expansion into original content follows some of the other larger marketing initiatives that both companies have used to gain the attention of the consumer. While not into boxing per se, Fan Duel spent money to sponsor Floyd Mayweather Jr., while Draft Kings cashed in on a somewhat unconventional spend against the Belmont Stakes, grabbing great exposure in places like the cover of Sports Illustrated with their signage. Neither spoke directly to the core pay fantasy audience, but it helped remind casual fans that the companies are engaged on the business of sports, albeit mostly in the pay fantasy business.

Will such investments pay off? According to the Globe article, since a redesign in March, average page views per visit have increased 52 percent and time on the site is up 152 percent for Draft Kings, while Fan Duel’s insider content has also seen a spike in visits. Neither can say yet if that spike has led to more pay fantasy money being spent, but the feeling is probably more eyeballs more of a chance of engagement. The use of news content is also much more cost-effective than some of the other high ticket promotions and ad spends the company has done, and with partners coming on board more prolifically; ESPN and MLB with DraftKings, the NBA with FanDuel, the ability to share content and gain traffic is probably just a bit easier, especially if their staffs can become accredited members of the media with the ability to gain content at events. That content would probably include unique video, which remains king for drawing audiences.

So while you will probably continue to see ore on the sponsor spend side than on the news gathering side for both, or any, fantasy sports company, it is interesting to see how important well-rounded and expansive content is becoming as the battle for casual engaged consumers heats up across the summer.

Fantasy Betting Has Long Been Part of the Scene – Just ask Mets and Yankee fans

Fantasy Betting Has Long Been Part of the Scene – Just ask Mets and Yankee fans

By TERRY LYONS, Contributing Columnist
@terrylyons @The Daily Payoff

The intersection of sports gambling and fantasy sports has been a key crossroad of the American sports scene long before the daily fantasy providers were sinking millions into a constant stream of radio and television ads.

While betting on the outcome of games, usually on a money line, might’ve put former Cincinnati Reds great Pete Rose in a predicament, the average baseball fan has long enjoyed the thrill of predicting the future.  Whether handicapping the pitching duel or wagering ridiculously on the very next pitch being a ball or strike, the experience has captivated the fans.

As the current climate continues to change, quicker than the ice melts in Antartica, the leading sports executives are recognizing the change and see the business opportunity on the horizon. But they would only have to look back to the summers of ’74 and ’75  in Queens County, New York to have seen the future.

While the New York Yankees and New York Mets were each playing mediocre baseball, teetering around .500, fans at Shea Stadium were treated to games nearly every night as the Yankees were relocated across the East River when The City of New York renovated Yankee Stadium for two seasons. The Mets’ roster featured Cy Young award winner Tom Seaver, who went 22-9 in ’75 when his club finished 82-80 and 10 games back of the “We Are Family” Pittsburgh Pirates, and the Yanks’ roster included the core of eventual ’77 and ’78 World Series championship teams. Yet the opportunity for a baseball fan that summer was simply the ease of getting great seats at prices that were next to nothing, especially for the displaced Bronx Bombers.

It was the perfect summer for high school buddies to head out to Shea, grab box seats for $5 apiece and play a game we simply called, “Pass the Hat.” We knew it was probably illegal but a harmless form of wagering.
Little did we know, it was an early form of fantasy baseball that kept us fully engaged each and every at bat.

The rules were simple. The game worked best when you had at least four participants, great when you had six or eight. To start, someone would take off their baseball cap and everybody would “ante up” a buck by tossing it into the cap. Batter up and the person holding the hat was eligible to collect the loot if a player got a hit when you were holding it. If the batter made out, you were obligated to toss in another $1 buck and pass the hat to your buddy seated next to you. If a player walked, you passed the hat free of charge, so, in our game, a walk was not as good as a hit. One caveat was the luck of holding the hat when a home run was hit. In that case, not only did you collect the money in the hat, but everyone participating was required to toss another dollar at the lucky winner, and then ante up again before the next batter.

As the years went by, we entertained ourselves with some other variations of our game, including an end-of-inning wonderkind called, “Grass-Mound-or-Other,” which required you to guess where the ball would end up after an inning ending out. After the final out, say a fly ball to left field, we eagerly watched the left fielder jogging towards his dugout to see if he would roll the ball to the pitchers mound and whether it would rest on the dirt hill (3-1 odds) or just off the edge and on the infield grass (even money). If the ball were tossed to a fan in the stands or carried into the dugout, all bets were off unless you had previously designated “other” which would get even money. There were many a times we had to stand on our infield box seats to get the proper angle on a ball tossed over the mound and nearly out-of-sight. It was glorious way to pass the time and highly intriguing, with the proof always shown through the fact neighboring fans would want to “get into” the game.

Surely there are hundreds of other New Yorkers with similar stories and different variations of the games they played at the ball field, and tons of examples of how soccer fans at Arsenal or dozens of other European Premier League clubs can wager on the first goal, the next goal or some other occurrence whether it involved the outcome of the game or just the next statistical transaction.

To date in the North American sports world, no league or venue has been permitted to get into the action because of federal laws. The recent influx of daily fantasy sports (DFS) is the first hint of gaming activity on an “official” basis, as Major League Baseball, via its digital media arm, MLB Advanced Media, has partnered with Draft Kings on an official sponsorship package.

That package consists mostly of touting their “experiential” offerings for tickets and other game enhancements or hospitality and trips.

The NBA partnered with Fan Duel, taking an equity position. However, the DFS offerings, to date, have only been salary cap-style games. The site infrastructures of either Fan Duel or Draft Kings have not been altered to allow in-game adjustments to line-ups or other such variations, such as predicting fantasy stats in an “At Bat” or single inning.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has boldly stated his viewpoint to potentially legalize sports gambling and take it away from the off-shore web sites or back-room bookies and into the open. His counterparts in charge of other major sports leagues have not been so forthcoming, especially the NFL and MLB which both seem to be burying their heads in the sand while Silver steps up, communicating transparently by way of his breath-of-fresh-air op-ed piece written in The New York Times last November 13th. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/14/opinion/nba-commissioner-adam-silver-legalize-sports-betting.html?_r=0

Wrote Silver in the NYT, “Betting on professional sports is currently illegal in most of the United States outside of Nevada. I believe we need a different approach,” noting the massive amounts of money wagered through “illicit bookmaking operations” or “shady offshore websites,” as he noted the popularity of sports gambling in the international world that is so much a part of the NBA’s global business plans.

In closing, Silver wrote under his by-line, “I believe that sports betting should be brought out of the underground and into the sunlight where it can be appropriately monitored and regulated.”

But what wasn’t a major statement in Silver’s op-ed or yet recognized by the powers-that-be in any of the North American major sports, is the fact more lenient federal and state laws on gaming and fantasy sports will bring about more engagement with the fans.

“It can keep people much more engaged at so many different points in a game,” said Joe Favorito, the Director of Industry Relations and a faculty member at Columbia University’s sports management program. “If a baseball game score is one-sided, you might stay for the entire game,” he said while noting the payoffs for “In-game” wagering/entertainment might be a coupon for a free hot dog in the eighth inning or a promotion to get more 20-somethings to attend a different game, later in the season.

So while the wager doesn’t have to be about money, the bottom line for a sports team, league or venue should now be to use newfound, hand-held “app-crazy” technology and obvious widespread acceptance of gaming, to offer-up another form of in-game entertainment and keep the fans happy. Traditionalists might scoff at the idea, but they don’t have to play, just the way some sports fans go out to the races just to see the horses run or intelligent readers buy Playboy for the articles.

Personally, I’d like to see a much more transparent viewpoint come from the Park Avenue hallways of both Major League Baseball and the National Football League, as those two sports have the most to gain. But, until then, I’ll head out to Yankee Stadium or the new Shea (they call it CitiField), with my old buddies, my baseball cap and $20 or $30 in singles.


NASCAR Officially Along For The Pay Fantasy Ride

NASCAR Officially Along For The Pay Fantasy Ride

There have been fantasy games set up around NASCAR for years with little to no success. The thought was always that with such passionate and engaged fans, a regular schedule and tons of data that the sport was a natural fit for fantasy. However individual sports were slow to gain traction in traditional fantasy, but all that has changed since the pay model has come into vogue.

Golf officials see pay fantasy as a way to engage a younger audience, and while tennis officials still worry about “gambling” and the fact that their game is more global, where fantasy has not yet caught on, there remains more interest there as well. Now it looks like NASCAR is in whole hog, announcing an official deal with DraftKings on Thursday.

Through the three-year agreement, DraftKings will have an exclusive license to develop NASCAR-branded games across the daily fantasy sports category. According to the release, DraftKings will have access to a direct data feed from NASCAR Digital Media that contains real-time statistics which will create all kinds of gaming opportunities for fans watching live on any device, and perhaps most importantly, at the track.

“Pursuing ways to connect with our fans on a daily basis while enhancing their viewing experience has been paramount to NASCAR, and fantasy sports is a core tenet of that strategy,” said Steve Phelps, NASCAR executive vice president and chief marketing officer in a release. “We are committed to growing our fan base, increasing engagement and diversifying our audience and partnering with DraftKings will strongly support all of these efforts.”

It will work this way. In each game, participants are assigned a fixed salary cap they can use to draft their entire roster, comprised of five NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers. Scoring categories in DraftKings NASCAR daily fantasy sports games will include finishing position, fastest laps, laps led, position differential and passing differential. NASCAR games on DraftKings will provide fans the opportunity to win one-of-a-kind NASCAR prizes and VIP experiences. DraftKings will offer two different types of NASCAR-themed games – a free game for casual players and paid games for avid followers of the sport.

The success of pay fantasy in NASCAR will not be overnight, as like every sport adapting to the culture will be key. There is no certain way to know how much illegal gambling goes on in and around races, although casual bets are known to take place around every track. What is certain is that NASCAR has a very engaged fan base which is very brand loyal, and if that translates into pay fantasy, DraftKings may be racing towards the checkered flag in yet another sport.

One Sports Business Makes CNBC’s Disruptor 50 For 2015, And It’s Winning In Pay Fantasy

One Sports Business Makes CNBC’s Disruptor 50 For 2015, And It’s Winning In Pay Fantasy

Uber, AirBnB, Pinterest, Dollar Shave Club. All brands that have challenged the establishment and lived to tell about it. They buck trends and carve their own way, and that’s why they were selected to the CNBC Disruptor 50 list for 2015.

CNBC features private companies in 16 industries-from aerospace to financial services to cybersecurity to retail-whose innovations are revolutionizing the business landscape. These forward-thinking upstarts have identified unexploited niches in the marketplace that have the potential to become billion-dollar businesses, and they rushed to fill them. In the process, they are creating new ecosystems for their products and services. They ranked those venture capital-backed companies doing the best job.

On the list was one sports industry brand, and it wasn’t ESPN or a new sneaker startup or even Under Armour. It was the brand that seems to be advancing and challenging even the new world of fantasy sports elite; the more established and much larger and higher valued Fan Duel.

It was DraftKings, which chimed in at number 50 and is the latest feather in the crown, so to speak, for the attacker brand of pay fantasy. The fact that a pay fantasy brand made the list is impressive. The fact that no other sports brand made it is even more impressive. Here is the full list, courtesy of CNBC.http://www.cnbc.com/id/102609977