DraftKings' UK Launch Expected Soon
Legal Sports Report

DraftKings Scores In UK: Arsenal FC Announces Partnership With Daily Fantasy Sports Site

DraftKings Arsenal UK partnership
DraftKings‘ foray into the United Kingdom got a lot more serious, as partnerships with a trio of English Premier League clubs — including Arsenal FC — were revealed on Wednesday.

It is DraftKings’ first sponsorship of a European soccer team. It is partnered with Major League Soccer in the U.S.

Another media report indicated that DraftKings was also partnering with UK clubs Liverpool and Watford.

Soccer-only DFS site Mondogoal had previously inked deals with a variety of European clubs.

The Arsenal deal with DraftKings

The Arsenal deal — which makes DraftKings “Official Daily Fantasy Sports Partner” — was first reported at Arsenal’s web site:

The long-term agreement is part of DraftKings’ global expansion strategy that kicks off with their upcoming launch into the UK sports market. DraftKings plan to engage new audiences with their daily fantasy product that allows players to test their sporting expertise and win weekly cash prizes and money-can’t-buy experiences.

DraftKings Chief Executive Officer, Jason Robins said of the partnership: “DraftKings are proud to be partnering with Arsenal, they are one of the world’s most recognised football clubs and are hugely popular in North America. We look forward to introducing Arsenal fans to our daily fantasy sports product and we hope supporters will enjoy the added entertainment DraftKings will bring to their matchday experience.”

Arsenal’s Chief Commercial Officer, Vinai Venkatesham added: “We are delighted to be partnering with DraftKings, who become our first Official Daily Fantasy Sports Partner. Working with the leader in the daily fantasy sports industry will ensure Arsenal fans, and football fans in general, have access to unique daily and weekly fantasy Premier League and sport-related contests. We look forward to working with DraftKings at such a critical point in their global expansion.”

The partnership will allow Arsenal fans to win prizes and VIP experiences via DraftKings’ UK site, whose launch is expected soon. As part of the deal, DraftKings will get exposure at Arsenal’s home pitch, Emirates Stadium, as well as on the club’s website and social media.

The Liverpool-DraftKings deal

Similar terms were disclosed in a news item at Liverpool FC’s web site:

Liverpool FC has signed a global partnership deal with fantasy sports platform DraftKings, making the brand LFC’s Official Daily Fantasy Sports Partner.

The three-year deal comes as part of DraftKings’ global expansion strategy, which begins in the UK and will see the brand launch its daily fantasy sports platform where fans can test their sports expertise against each other. 

UK launch pending?

The announcement likely presages the launch of DraftKings in the UK, a launch that has been long-planned and oft-delayed.

The latest launch target — February 2016 — was tipped by company representatives and others on Twitter.

DraftKings acquired a license to operate an online betting platform in the UK back in August 2015. FanDuel applied for a similar license in November, but has yet to announce a firm timeline for launch.

The UK launch comes amid legal concerns in the U.S., and efforts by a variety of jurisdictions to regulate the industry.

A competitive climate

The market for online wagering in the United Kingdom is a world away from the market in the United States.

In the UK, scores of deep-pocketed competitors — including heavyweights like bet365, William Hill, and betfair — compete for the wagering dollar of consumers with sophisticated products built on the back of hundreds of millions of dollars in R&D.

Another important distinction: While fantasy sports is a cultural fixture in the United States, it has less of a foothold in the UK. That’s not to say it doesn’t exist — major players such as Sky have fantasy sports components.

But DFS operators in the UK will have a consumer-education hill to climb that wasn’t present — or was at least a far lower grade — in the United States.

Sponsorships in DFS have slowed

In late 2014 and early 2015, there had been dozens of deals struck by DraftKings, FanDuel, and other DFS sites with sports leagues and teams.

The frequency of those deals dissipated later in 2015 — at least partially because so many of the major North American teams had entered into deals with one of the two major DFS operators already.

DraftKings likely believes that the new dealw will help its UK platform get off the ground in a market where DFS is not as widely known.

editorial: Philip Willcocks / Shutterstock.com

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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.