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DraftKings Gets U.K. Gaming License, Will Go Live Q4; Set To Open London Office

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DraftKings announced that it has received a gaming license to operate in the United Kingdom, the first major U.S.-based daily fantasy sports site that will operate in a regulated market in Europe.

What we know about DraftKings entering the U.K.

DraftKings announced that it had received the license in a press release on Monday morning. In the release, DraftKings relayed that it had received the U.K. license, which it applied for in June.

The license can be viewed here; DraftKings is now licensed for “Gambling Software” and “Pool Betting,” according to the license. The domain DraftKings.co.uk is now active, with the message “DraftKings is launching in your country soon.”

The release also notes that:

  • DraftKings “expects to be operational in the U.K. in the fourth quarter.”
  • The site will open a London office by the end of this year.
  • Jeffrey Haas has been named DraftKings’ Chief International Officer. Haas was formerly bwin.party’s director of poker. He announced he was leaving that position last month.

What DraftKings’ execs said

DraftKings CEO Jason Robins, from the release:

“Our expansion into the United Kingdom marks a milestone moment in the growth of DraftKings as we introduce our world-class product to new audiences. We will add new sports and games to our burgeoning roster of offerings and further connect fans to their favorite teams and players. We also welcome the opportunity to forge new partnerships with leagues, teams and media outlets internationally as we have done with exceptional success in the United States.”

And Haas:

“DraftKings is well-poised for explosive growth internationally, and I am excited to lead their expansion efforts. Daily Fantasy Sports is a growing category outside North America, and we have a tremendous opportunity to engage sports fans around the world. We will look to maintain our leadership position in the Daily Fantasy Sports industry – creating innovative games across the most sports, providing our players with elite customer service and fostering mutually-beneficial relationships with our partners.”

Joining the rest of the world

Not even FanDuel, which has offices in Scotland, has a U.K. license, from the world of DFS. Mondogoal, which is based in the Isle of Man, also has a U.K. gaming license. That site offers only daily fantasy soccer.

Amaya, which announced its purchase of the DFS site Victiv last week — with an intent to rebrand it as StarsDraft — also holds a U.K. gaming license, in addition to licenses in a variety of other jurisdictions. The expectation is that Amaya will leverage the StarsDraft platform in the U.K. and elsewhere, eventually.

The press release also notes that DraftKings is planning “launches in additional markets, including EuropeAsia Pacific and Latin America, planned for 2016.” Which jurisdictions it is planning to apply for licenses for is unknown.

DFS isn’t gambling?

As daily fantasy sports sites like DraftKings apply for and use gambling licenses abroad, it will likely become increasingly difficult for them to maintain their status as a non-gambling activity in the United States.

Currently, DFS is not regulated in the U.S., nor is it thought to require a gambling license to operate in most jurisdictions in the country. DraftKings and most DFS sites operate in 45 statesNevada is currently undergoing a “legal analysis” of DFS and whether it falls under its gaming statutes.

The industry relies on a carveout for fantasy sports at the federal level in the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, and upon its status as a skill game under the law in most states.

But how much longer DFS can remain an unregulated activity in the U.S. is a concern for the industry. The media has regularly started referring to daily fantasy sports as gambling. And DraftKings’ entrance into the U.K. market won’t help anyone to sell the idea that DFS isn’t a gambling activity.

Photo by Vaughan Leiberum used under license CC BY 2.0.

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.
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