[toc]PokerStars is now formally in the daily fantasy sports business.
That’s after Victiv – recently acquired by PokerStars’ parent company Amaya – relaunched today under the new StarsDraft brand.
The following notice greets visitors to Victiv.com (who are now redirected to StarsDraft.com):
We are excited to announce that Victiv has partnered with Amaya and the PokerStars brand to bring you the new StarsDraft.com.
We look forward to continuing to offer the same high standard of customer support, player engagement, and product innovation under our new brand.
All of your user details, balances, bonuses, and account information will remain the same. Click login below to experience the new StarsDraft.com
A full FAQ is available at StarsDraft.com.
Inside the transition from Victiv to StarsDraft
From a player perspective, the initial transition from Victiv to StarsDraft should be a relatively seamless one:
- The lobby is fundamentally unchanged.
- Login details remain the same.
- Player balances, bonuses, and tickets have also been moved over.
- Loyalty status remains as it was prior to the change.
- Referral and affiliate links still function, but should be updated.
Canada and Michigan cut off
The one major exception to that friction-free experience: StarsDraft will apparently no longer accept deposits from players in Michigan or Canada. From the StarsDraft FAQ:
While we are no longer accepting deposits from residents in Michigan or Canada, if you have a StarsDraft account you will be allowed to continue to play for a 120-day period starting September 3, 2015.
The decision regarding Michigan likely stems from recent comments made by that state’s head of Gaming Control Board.
StarsDraft notified players from Michigan of the decision in a separate email:
You are receiving this notice because your account lists Michigan as your registered state of residence.
Following a recent management review of our terms and conditions, we have elected to no longer offer the ability to deposit and fund accounts for Michigan residents.
120-Day Wind Down Period
Starting today, your account will enter into a 120-day wind down period. During this period, your account will retain open and full access of the StarsDraft.com website.
Your account will remain open with full access until January 1, 2016.
Please make sure that you have withdrawn your entire balance before this date. After that point, you will no longer be able to access your Victiv.com account.
We apologize for the abrupt change in policy and hope to be able to reopen access if there’s any future change to this restriction.
The Canadian decision is a bit more complicated. Amaya offered the following comment on the matter to OPR:
As one of the most licensed online gaming operators in the world, we review each potential DFS market on a case-by-case basis. Today, certain states in the U.S. market are the primary focus for our StarsDraft offering and for the DFS industry, generally. We will continue to review the opportunity to provide StarsDraft in Canada and hope to be able to offer StarsDraft to our Canadian customers with clarity and confidence in the future.
It’s worth noting that another FAQ on StarsDraft was displaying conflicting information regarding Canada and Michigan. We have confirmed that said information is outdated, and that page has now been updated.
Amaya has incentive for caution
Amaya has a few unique incentives to act out of an abundance of caution, meaning that the decisions it makes may not necessarily signal the start of a trend:
- Amaya is a licensed participant in several U.S. gambling markets, something that’s just not true for the majority of DFS operators. That creates a separate set of rules for Amaya to play by when operating a DFS site.
- The stakes for Amaya and DFS are incredibly low. The company has little need to test legal lines given the amount of potential revenue in play relative to their core business.
- Amaya is especially sensitive to public perception in the United States as the company attempts to secure a place for PokerStars in regulated online gambling markets like New Jersey (and possibly California).
How aggressive will StarsDraft be?
The larger question is exactly how Amaya will approach the DFS space. Early indications are that the general strategy will be cost-conscious, a strategy that was previewed by Amaya CEO David Baazov during the earnings call when the acquisition was announced:
“I’d also emphasize that this is not a category in which we will be doing any significant investment in, as they first start cross-selling and leveraging the 1 in 10 U.S. adults we have in the database. And I think the market still has to mature more, it has to appreciate to a size where we would be willing to make a significant investment.” […]
“When you take a look at some of the marketing spend [in DFS], I think there are some companies that are spending four to five times revenue. That’s not something we’re looking at right now. We feel we can capture the market share over time, and it’s not something that is necessary today. I think the market needs to mature and become a little bit bigger. It’s nowhere the material size yet today to make a difference.” […]
“To just put up overlay to try and attract customers in the short term and don’t have any return right now, is not going to be a focus for us. I think the focus is going to be leveraging our cross-sell of our database, our brand and our trust, with the fact that people’s money is secure at anytime, segregated, etc. … And we’re going to capture some market share that is going to be meaningful anyway. But I think the time isn’t right now in order to go in and spend on CPA [cost per acquisition]. The market needs to have more players in totality.”
More from Baazov on the Victiv acquisition here.
International expansion on the horizon?
While there are a number of internationally-focused operators, the vast majority of the daily fantasy sports industry is centered on the U.S. market.
PokerStars, of course, is the dominant online poker site in the global market, but does not operate in the United States.
Victiv is a mid-tier DFS site with reasonable liquidity, but far short of the player numbers put up by industry leaders DraftKings and FanDuel.
To many, that sounds like conditions that are ripe for PokerStars to make an aggressive international push with StarsDraft, especially given that DraftKings is already angling for a similar expansion via the acquisition of a gambling license in the United Kingdom.
But that push, if it is to come, will be a part of the second phase. As of now, only Americans from qualifying states are eligible to play at StarsDraft.
More details on the transition at StarsDraft.com.