DraftKings CEO: Three Ways US Sports Betting Can Rebound From Pandemic Shutdowns

Posted on May 26, 2020

There might be a dearth of sports at present, but that doesn’t mean it’s all doom and gloom in the US sports betting industry.

In fact, DraftKings CEO Jason Robins picked out three potential long-term upsides from the shutdown during a webinar on Friday.

Robins said the current freeze was fast-tracking three trends:

States need new revenue

First, looming holes in state budgets could prompt legislatures to adopt more mobile sports betting and gaming legislation.

It’s a view also voiced by Morgan Stanley recently, where analysts called for 38 states with sports betting by 2025 and 11 with online gaming. 

And while we haven’t seen an abundance of new legislation in this area yet, we have seen a push in Michigan to fast-track the launch of the market. Michigan legislators passed a comprehensive gaming bill in late 2019.

More interest in niche betting

Robins also predicted the current interest in non-core sports could carry over even when the NFL and other major leagues return.

Robins said DraftKings had seen huge interest in free-to-play DFS contests on Madden NFL sims and TV shows like The Bachelor.

And according to Robins, the popularity of those Madden sims suggests there is year-round demand for NFL betting content, even if it is virtual.

He said that interest, combined with the aforementioned state finances could see more non-core betting activity permitted.

DraftKings, states respond to new demand

Indeed, states like New Jersey have been quick to expand their betting menu as major sports have shut down. And it’s feasible that could extend to TV betting or simulated games. 

However, it’s questionable just how big a bump this will provide in the long run. Fans might be creating a lineup for a Madden sim when there is no other sport to bet on.

But how many will bet on a sim when there is real-life MLB or NBA going on?

Pandemic response might become an accelerator in many cases, but the Madden sim trend looks more likely to fade than flourish.

Sports betting channel shift

Finally, Robins foresees a bump for the online betting sector as Americans look for ways to replace real-life social events and gatherings.

“If you’re not allowed large gatherings, that goes for sports, but it goes for other social events too,” Robins said. “… and we expect to see a lot of that activity move online.”

This one seems like a slam dunk. Pennsylvania could be an interesting data point to monitor as its casinos reopen. 

Around 90% of betting handle was done online in February and March. Could that number settle in at 95% going forward if people avoid public places and bet online instead?

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Brad Allen

Brad has been covering the online gambling industry in Europe and the US for more than four years, most recently as the news editor at EGR Global.

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