Logistics about one daily fantasy sports site or two remain unknown
Legal Sports Report

Smooth Sailing For DraftKings-FanDuel Merger? Anti-Trust Review ‘Going Well,’ CEO Says

DraftKings FanDuel merger
We still know little about the logistics of a planned merger of daily fantasy sports sites DraftKings and FanDuel after a recent interview with the former’s founders.

That merger is supposed to take place sometime in the third quarter of this year — in time for the start of football season. That’s just a few months away.

Some six months after the merger was announced, details remain scant about how it will go down.

The latest on the DraftKings-FanDuel merger

DraftKings’ founders — Jason Robins, Matt Kalish and Paul Liberman –– appeared in an interview at DFS content site RotoGrinders. They offered some insight into talks about how the two companies would function as one, but with little in the way of real nuggets of information. It was much the same as what we heard back in December on the merger.

You can watch the whole interview here; the talk about the merger starts at about the 14:30 mark.

Robins, the CEO, briefly mentioned an anti-trust review being conducted by the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC is trying to determine if the merged company would constitute a monopoly.

“We’re in the process of it being reviewed. I think that’s going well,” Robins offered.

One DFS site or two?

As for how the new company will function as a consumer-facing product — as one platform or two — we didn’t hear much. Kalish said “no decision has been made” in that regard.

“We’ve been talking about those merits, those pros and cons, and I hope we’ll have a decision pretty soon,” Kalish added.

However, Kalish didn’t make it sound like all users would be funneled to one site or the other.

“What I don’t think we’ll do is try to force fit everybody into one experience, because I think there’s a reason why people do what they do,” Kalish said. “There is a reason why some people are on one site and some people are on the other.”

Robins did touch on what he hoped the merger would mean for the two companies

“The thing I am looking forward to really is being able to get back to focusing on growth, focusing on how do we bring in the most new players, create the healthiest ecosystem. … If and when we’re able to get this merger completed, I think that will be a giant step towards that,” Robins said.

“We want to get there anyway, but being able to do it with FanDuel side by side I think will be a lot faster path to where were want to get to and hopefully where all the players want us to get to,” Robins said.

How the DFS merger went down

Robins candidly spoke in the interview about what DraftKings has been through in the past couple of years, in terms of legal and regulatory issues and its impact on the company.

He also talked about how the merger finally came about with FanDuel CEO Nigel Eccles. It happened after years of rumors of the two companies talking about a tie-up. The work on gaining legal clarity and regulatory oversight ultimately forced the companies to work cooperatively, Robins said.

“I can tell you what really kind of made it happen was when — and this is another reason why I wouldn’t really change the things that happened and the regulatory issues that occurred — that’s what really brought us together, ultimately,” Robins said. “Nigel and I spent a lot of time together in state capitols doing the tour last year while we were passing bills, and hopefully getting the fantasy sports industry in a much better place than it was before.”

Eight states passed daily fantasy sports laws in 2016. With laws passed this year and previously, 11 states have legalized paid-entry fantasy contests.

What’s next for the merger

It seems unlikely we’ll hear anything about it in a material way until the FTC finishes its review.

But it’s clear the two companies would like to be merged well before the start of daily fantasy football. But will federal regulators oblige them?

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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.