DraftKings to focus on American fantasy sports first; Bundesliga planned for later in 2017
Legal Sports Report

Willkommen Fantasy Sports: DraftKings Goes Live In Germany

DraftKings Germany
US daily fantasy sports site DraftKings officially went live with a beta version in Germany on Thursday.

A quick look at the DraftKings launch

Earlier this year, DraftKings announced it would be going live in Germany during Q1, thanks to a new skill-games license acquired in Malta. (Fantasy soccer site Oulala is the only other company known to have acquired this license.)

The full suite of DraftKings fantasy contests will be available to the German population, including:

  • Soccer
  • NFL
  • Major League Baseball
  • NBA
  • NHL
  • Golf
  • NASCAR
  • Esports
  • Mixed martial arts

“Germany is known for its passionate sports fans and we are pleased to welcome them to daily fantasy sports,” DraftKings Chief International Officer Jeffrey Haas said in a press release upon launch.

“DraftKings gives everyone the chance to prove they are the best team manager in the world, when they are at the beer garden or on their couch at home. It’s the same fun fantasy sports experience players know and love, but without the season-long commitment.”

More on DraftKings going to Germany

DraftKings UK launched in 2016, adding to its established player base in the US and Canada. Liquidity will be shared throughout all these countries along with Germany.

Sports that are popular in Europe — like soccer — will be a focus in Germany. But DraftKings’ experience has been that DFS based on American sports has done well in the UK. That’s not just with ex-pats, according to Haas, but with the domestic audience.

“It’s much easier for us to cut through with our messaging for American sports fans, than it is for European football, because we’re not competing with hundreds of companies that are trying to reach those consumers,” Haas told Legal Sports Report in an earlier interview.

To wit, DraftKings told LSR it will not be launching contests for Bundesliga, the top German soccer league, in the middle of the current fixture. Instead, DraftKings will hope to have contests go live in the fall, for the start of the next season.

On the American sports front:

  • Haas noted that the now defunct NFL Europe had German teams, and that helped create a sizable market of NFL fans.
  • Golf is already popular in Germany, as well; DraftKings announced it would be doing a marketing push ahead of next month’s Masters tournament.
  • The NBA, with German stars like Dirk Nowitzki, has an established German audience as well.

“Germans show a proclivity for American sports, particularly the NFL and NBA,” said Haas. “Initial testing in Germany shows that our most popular sport has been the NBA, which is why we are opening our beta test to all German sports fans.”

What’s next for DraftKings?

DraftKings staffed an office in Malta in preparation for its launch into that small country and Germany. Further expansion into mainland Europe is likely on the horizon, as the company earlier indicated its desire to go into other European member states.

Haas said the Maltese license would “increase our addressable audience by at least 100 million people.”

However, expansion to countries like Spain, France and Italy is not likely to be in the cards. Those countries are ring-fenced for gaming and generally have high tax rates.

Even though DraftKings is coming off a new funding round reportedly into the nine figures, it appears unlikely that a massive marketing push is going to accompany the German launch. The company inked some partnership deals with teams in the English Premier League upon its UK launch. But the marketing was muted compared to the advertising blitz DraftKings conducted in the US in 2015.

FanDuel has not yet indicated a desire to acquire the same Maltese skill-games license ahead of a planned merger with DraftKings later this year.

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Dustin Gouker
- Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer -- including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner.