Could DraftKings Become a Sportsbook? Well, it Might…

The PokerStars brand was, for a long time, the largest and best-known online poker brand in the world. And then it was overtaken by a Canadian company called Amaya Gaming in 2014 for a record sum ($4.9 billion), and things have changed. Gradually, PokerStars expanded its offer, adding traditional and live-dealer casino games to its lineup. Today, it has not only real-money online poker but online pokies, table games, and everything else an online casino needs – it even launched its own sportsbook brand (BetStars) and planned to launch its own DFS brand, StarsDraft. The “Stars” brand has a lot of potential for expansion, and Amaya sure made the most of it.

DraftKings, one of the world’s largest daily fantasy sports operator, might have a similar future; at least this is what the remarks of DraftKings CEO Jason Robins at this year’s Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal, seem to suggest. Of course, there is that small thing called a federal law that is in its way to do the switch in the US – but for the rest of the world, it could (and it might) happen.

One of the most interesting announcements made by Robins in Portugal this November was his company’s acquisition of the streaming rights of EuroLeague’s matches. For those unfamiliar with European basketball, EuroLeague is the European-wide top-tier level professional basketball club competition, with the second-highest attendance of any professional basketball league in the world except the NBA. Now DraftKings plans to introduce streaming of EuroLeague matches live to its mobile app users in the US and Canada, and enter a new set of contests created around these events and teams.

Sportsbooks have, for a long time, offered similar services to their users – streaming matches live through their online and mobile platforms – but this is the first time a daily fantasy sports operator has ever ventured into this territory. And pairing these two services might drive interest (and revenue) for both DraftKings and EuroLeague, Robins believes. “I think if we can demonstrate that, there will be other sports that will be eager to work with us in the same way,” he told Bloomberg TV a few weeks ago. And this is only the first step, as he hinted on approaching American right-holders like ESPN and Fox Sports with similar solutions in the future.

As for the future of DraftKings as a potential sports betting operator, Robins didn’t go into any details – he only mentioned that it is one of the company’s options in case sports betting is ever legalized in the United States. And if this happens, it would be foolish for the company not to pursue this direction, given the already massive visibility of the brand. And with the number of voices raised in favor of regulated sports betting in the US recently, this might happen sooner than many of us think.

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James Thomas
Part-time writer, full-time sports fan, and lifetime fantasy sports fanatic.