FanDuel Would Join DraftKings, Mondogoal In UK
Legal Sports Report

More Daily Fantasy Sports In UK? FanDuel Applies For Gambling License

FanDuel UK launch
FanDuel appears ready to join DraftKings and Mondogoal in the international daily fantasy sports market, as it has an active license application with the UK Gambling Commission.

FanDuel ready to head to United Kingdom, too

You can see FanDuel’s active application at the gambling commission website here (search for FanDuel); it merely says the status for FanDuel’s license for “Gambling Software” is pending.

A FanDuel spokesperson provided the following comment on the application:

“This application is a part of the regulatory compliance process to offer fantasy sports in the UK market. Since 2009, FanDuel has been transforming the way fans across the U.S. engage with their favorite sports. As a logical next step in our growth strategy, we will look to the UK to begin providing the fun, challenge and excitement of fantasy sports to fans in international markets.”

Of course, FanDuel is already based in the UK, with its headquarters in Edinburgh, Scotland, and other offices in the UK. So, this is just a matter of the company attempting to offer DFS in the country.

It’s also possible FanDuel will attempt to leverage its fantasy eSports platform, AlphaDraft, which it acquired in September.

What FanDuel has said before about international DFS

FanDuel’s designs on tapping the international market have not been a secret, but this is the first truly hard evidence of the company’s attempt to move past the U.S. and Canadian markets — the only two countries where FanDuel is currently active.

FanDuel co-founder Lesley Eccles said the following, according to the Herald Scotland:

“We are looking at how we take this out of America and into other countries. It is clear we still have a lot of upside and growth.”

She also noted that a UK launch would be coming “soon.”

FanDuel CEO Nigel Eccles talked about his company’s desires to expand internationally in an interview with RotoGrinders.com in September:

“There’s huge opportunity internationally. I’d say in 10 years time, maybe only 40 percent of our revenues would come from the U.S.”

DraftKings’ UK launch and license

DraftKings had previously applied for and received a license to operate in the U.K.

The DFS site has said upon receiving its license that it would launch sometime in 2015. DraftKings CEO Jason Robins said in September that DraftKings’ UK launch would occur sometime in October; the month passed without DraftKings going live on its UK domain. A message there says “DraftKings is launching in your country soon.”

In a recent story at the Boston Globe, Robins said the launch would come some time this month. Robins earlier indicated that DraftKings would share liquidity across the U.S. and U.K. markets.

Today, DraftKings signed a deal with sports data provider Opta to provide live statistics for soccer contests for Major League Soccer, the English Premier League and the UEFA Champions League.

Will FanDuel’s DFS product in the UK be different?

It seems like there’s a fair chance FanDuel will diverge from its offerings in North America when it goes live. Its application is only for “gambling software.” DraftKings approved license is for both “gambling software” and “pool betting.”

The fact that FanDuel is not applying for a pool betting license could be an indication that it will not simply “cut and paste” its U.S. product into the UK market. Also:

‘Gambling license’ comes during period of U.S. scrutiny

A number of jurisdictions on this side of the Atlantic are considering the daily fantasy sports industry as scrutiny of operators and the legal landscape of DFS has ramped up over the past month. That includes states mulling the issue of whether DFS is a game of skill or gambling under state law.

Nevada recently came to the conclusion that DFS generally falls under the umbrella of “sports pools” in state law, and that DFS operators require a license to operate there.

Recently, Nigel Eccles called for government regulation of the DFS industry in the U.S.

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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.