Remember all those DraftKings ads and billboards promoting daily fantasy sports? How your one annoying friend would quote the taglines along with those paid actors on TV? And you know how you were pretty relieved as you noticed the ads tapering off over the last couple years?
Yeah, so I hate to be the one to tell you this. Those are about to be coming back with a vengeance. If its any consolation, though, they won’t be about DFS this time around.
DraftKings is piling resources into sports betting in a move that has caught literally nobody by surprise. The pace it’s setting toward the market, though, might have caught a few folks off guard. The company’s first sports betting advertising is already up.
This week, DraftKings Sportsbook rolled out its inaugural campaign in New Jersey, scooping up highway billboards and transit signage. If you drive into Atlantic City or hop the rails out of Newark airport, you may spot one that says: “Legal sports betting in Jersey? You bet.” The crowned-D logo and black/ green palette might catch your eye if you’re a DFS customer.
Prior to last week’s ruling from the US Supreme Court, promoting sports betting like this would have been illegal under federal law. That’s no longer the case, and the skyline is already starting to show signs of change.
Let’s run through what we know — and don’t know — about DraftKings Sportsbook so far.
DraftKings and sports betting so far
First of all, DFS is not sports betting. Just wanted to be clear about that.
Under the legal framework that existed until last week, DFS operators distanced themselves from sports gambling like the plague, shunning all comparisons. They’ve argued semantics for a decade as they’ve worked to garner support for fantasy sports bills.
DraftKings Sportsbook is sports betting, though. Or, it will be when it launches.
Starting around November of last year, executives started expressing some curiosity about a potential pivot. At that point, SCOTUS hadn’t even heard the NJ sports betting case, but internal memos were already being passed around.
Following oral arguments in December, DraftKings announced plans to relocate its headquarters within Boston to make room for about 300 additional employees. The growth was inferred to be preparation for legal sports betting (pending a favorable decision from SCOTUS) but it was just a hunch.
It was a correct hunch, though. On top of its Boston expansion, DraftKings opened a new office in Hoboken, NJ, and hired a Head of Sporstbook to oversee the new vertical. The news provided the first substantial proof that a DraftKings sports betting product would be coming out of NJ.
What we still don’t know
There’s a lot that goes into launching a new product into a new market, and there’s likely much left to do before we have an app to download.
Is it doing a sports betting platform in-house? Will a third-party provide the software, like Kambi or someone else? We don’t know either, and DraftKings told Legal Sports Report that there was no update on this front.
Some possible context: The company recently offered support for online wagering in Rhode Island, but it did not submit a proposal for the only available license. Given that it attended the pre-bid conference but didn’t bid on the job, maybe DraftKings Sportsbook can’t meet the state’s October timeline? It would actually be pretty surprising if it could.
For that matter, the DraftKings Sportsbook doesn’t have a path to market in any state yet. The law in NJ will likely require it to partner with a land-based casino licensee, which it has not yet announced, either. It’s not clear who that potential partner could be, and any deal would hinge on the sportsbook tech DraftKings is able to bring to the table.
DraftKings did indicate that it’s “actively seeking” a partnership, and it will no doubt enter the market at its first opportunity. A marketing blitz doesn’t come cheap, especially for a company without a product at the moment.