DraftKings Opens Las Vegas Office But When Will Its Sportsbook Follow?

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DraftKings co-founder Matt Kalish and sportsbook director Johnny Avello led a tour Wednesday through the company’s expansive new Las Vegas office.

When its DraftKings Sportsbook product will follow dozens of new employees to Nevada remains in question.

Kalish said Nevada’s in-person signup requirement hinders DraftKings’ plans to launch its app in the state:

“Like everyone else, we have to go through our licensing, make sure we get all our paperwork in, all of that kind of stuff. It was a little bit … lower on the list only because there’s a requirement to sign up on-premise in Nevada, which is a little different than if you go to New Jersey for example, you just download DraftKings and start playing.

“In Nevada, you have to go to a brick-and-mortar casino, sign up and then you can use the sports betting app. DraftKings didn’t have a retail — we’re a digital company, so we didn’t have a casino in Las Vegas that people could even go to to sign up.

“We’ve never really had that urgency to go get a license because we don’t have a way for consumers to get access to the product. We need to kind of solve that and then do the licensing in conjunction.”

Wither the Caesars partnership?

The natural question raised by Kalish’s statement is: does the DraftKings partnership with Caesars provide a potential entry point? The company announced a tie-up with the casino giant in February 2019 for online sports betting nationwide.

“I’m very hopeful that you’re going to see us soon but I just can’t give you an exact date,” Avello said.

At the time of the deal, DraftKings CEO Jason Robins said in a statement:

“Partnering with such a world-class gaming organization will expedite our national roll-out process and give us the opportunity to work alongside one of the largest and most established industry leaders in the world.”

DraftKings and Caesars: still a thing for Nevada?

Asked Wednesday if DraftKings ever could launch Nevada sports betting via Caesars, Kalish did not answer directly, saying his expertise is in other parts of the operation.

Eldorado Resorts announced in June plans to merge with Caesars Entertainment. That merger could create uncertainty for all parties because Eldorado purchased a 20% stake in William Hill in September 2018.

Eldorado also entered a partnership deal with The Stars Group, which later turned its keys over to Fox Bet. That complicated set of deals could require some unpacking before the future of DraftKings Sportsbook in Nevada becomes clearer.

Inside the new DraftKings office in Las Vegas

The new open-office space is customized as part of a partnership with WeWork and is carved from the shared-work facility. Up to 70 employees will be on-site soon, with plans to expand to as many as 300 at capacity.

Kalish said the Las Vegas office will rank second in size only to the company’s Boston headquarters. Employees currently work in the only finished office of what will grow to four workspaces in the building. The company will run some trading, customer service, fraud, and eventually DraftKings Casino operations from Las Vegas.

Kalish said much of its operation is interchangeable among its offices in Boston, Hoboken, and New York, but DraftKings wanted to access the expertise of casino and sportsbook veterans in Las Vegas.

“There’s a lot of talent here that’s been working with these products for years and years,” Kalish said.