DraftKings also noted that it is opening an office in New Jersey. That’s in addition to existing offices in Boston and New York.
The company started indicating its interest in the sports wagering space in 2017. The new hire obviously escalates those plans. DraftKings CEO Jason Robins talked about sports wagering just a few days ago.
The new head of sportsbook at DraftKings
The hire, Sean Hurley, is experienced in the UK gaming space. According to a press release, he will “build, launch and drive the sports betting vertical at DraftKings,” and will report to Chief Revenue Officer and co-founder Matt Kalish.
“Sean brings a wealth of gaming experience to DraftKings and furthers our ability to be a leader in the sports betting market,” said Kalish.
Hurley will be based in DraftKings’ newly opened office in Hoboken, New Jersey. He will focus on preparing Sportsbook as a potential new line of business for DraftKings in anticipation of the pending Supreme Court decision in Christie v. National Collegiate Athletic Association.
Prior to joining DraftKings, Hurley gained extensive knowledge of the iGaming space with senior roles in both B2B and B2C companies. Most recently, Hurley led sales and commercial for Amelco, a sportsbook and trading platform supplier based in London.
Legal Sports Report also understands that DraftKings has been looking at ways to be involved in New Jersey sports wagering, should the case go the way of the state.
DraftKings had no comment to LSR beyond the release.
Things ramping up at DraftKings
The daily fantasy sports site has certainly not been sitting idly by in recent months.
In January, the company announced it would be moving its headquarters within Boston and hiring 300 new people by 2019.
With the ceiling possibly reached (or close to it) for DFS, it makes sense to expand to new verticals, especially one with a largely blank slate in the US. The company is likely trying to sell that it will be able to make a pivot to the sports betting industry, for garnering future investments or a potential IPO down the road. More on the possible issues with that shift below.
No. 2 DFS site FanDuel also likely has designs on the sports betting market, but has not been as vocal about them as its competition.
Gambling or not gambling?
The fact that DraftKings is getting into the sports betting space will surprise no one. But it does create some interesting issues:
- Major League Baseball and the NHL both hold equity in DraftKings. While the former is lobbying for sports betting legalization — under its terms — it’s not clear how it would react to actually owning a piece of a sportsbook.
- DraftKings has lobbied and continues to lobby around the country for legislation that declares DFS a game of skill, apart from gambling. How will states and lawmakers react to the physical manifestation of sports betting and DFS under the same umbrella? It’s possible it doesn’t move the needle, but it does give ammunition to those that see the platform as a gambling product.
What’s next for DraftKings?
For now, it’s wait and see what the Supreme Court case brings, and preparing for a world where states beyond NJ legalize it.
DraftKings does not have a sports betting app, yet, unless it’s been keeping it under wraps. It’s playing catch-up in this regard — if it is indeed planning to develop its own platform — with a variety of established sportsbooks that serve the Nevada sports betting industry and regulated markets in Europe and beyond. It’s also certainly possible the company will use an already existing (or planned) platform and integrate it into its own.