The year in the industry of daily fantasy sports started out full of hope, and with plans for big things to come, for DraftKings, FanDuel, and others. The year ends with uncertainty lurking at every corner.
Here’s a quick look back at some key events from every month:
- FanDuel was crushing it a year ago, leading DraftKings in marketshare by a wide margin and hitting new highs.
- The trend of DFS sites locking up team sponsorships would start picking up steam.
- DraftKings launched DFS for mixed martial arts.
- The Fantasy Sports Trade Association held its winter conference, with Eilers Research’s Adam Krejcik making a series of predictions about the industry. Some of them came true, including one everyone wished didn’t: a scandal would rock the industry.
- Former NBA commish David Stern calls DFS gambling (he would later backtrack on this), a refrain that would become a major sticking point throughout the year.
- The UFC inked a deal with DraftKings.
- DraftKings and the World Series of Poker got chummier, a relationship that broke up later in the year when Nevada said DFS sites required a gaming license to operate.
- The world of daily fantasy eSports started taking off quickly, as Vulcun guaranteed $1 million in prizes in 2015, a figure it would later make even larger.
- A bill that would have legalized DFS in Washington state took a left turn.
- PokerStars announces its plans to get into DFS, although that journey would take some interesting turns later in 2015.
- Iowa’s Senate passed a bill that would have legalized DFS, although action on that bill stalled after that.
- DraftKings and FanDuel had a pissing match about which one was bigger. Seems like small potatoes in retrospect.
- Major League Baseball and DraftKings cemented their partnership.
- Fantasy eSports site Vulcun raised $12 million.
- FanDuel signed deals with 15 NFL franchises.
- FanDuel sponsored Floyd Mayweather Jr. for his fight with Manny Pacquiao.
- Media reports that ESPN was investing in DraftKings turned out to be false or premature; or perhaps ESPN parent company Disney backed out sometime after the deal was done in principle. (More here on why it didn’t go down.)
- MGM’s CEO calls DFS gambling.
- Kansas passed a bill legalizing DFS.
- DraftKings signs a deal with NASCAR.
- The rapid rise of fantasy eSports continues with a funding round for AlphaDraft.
- The author of a bill that gave fantasy sports a carveout at the federal level — the UIGEA — says Congress never intended for the DFS industry to spring up as a result.
- A bill to legalize DFS in Louisiana is thwarted.
- DraftKings surpasses FanDuel for the No. 1 spot.
- DraftKings signs a deal with the Belmont Stakes, which would coincide with a successful Triple Crown for American Pharoah.
- Fantasy Feud and Fantasy Aces become parts of publicly traded companies.
- FanDuel does deals with 13 NBA teams.
- DraftKings applies for a UK gaming license, which it would eventually receive. The license would eventually bring up questions vis a vis gambling stateside, and two planned launch dates in Q4 would be missed. DraftKings still is not operational in the UK.
- The earlier reported deal with ESPN and DraftKings was off, but a big marketing deal between the two was on.
- Yahoo launched a DFS platform and app.
- FanDuel raised $275 million and was valued at over a billion dollars.
- DraftKings raised $300 million and also got a unicorn valuation.
- DraftKings signs a deal with Major League Soccer and with a lot of MLB teams.
- DraftKings, and to a lesser extent FanDuel, get backlash for the policies on allowing scripts.
- The first signs of trouble for DFS in Nevada surfaced.
- Yahoo didn’t actually have 1.3 million DFS users.
- It was a big year for daily fantasy golf.
- Amaya got into DFS with a purchase of Victiv, which it would later rebrand as StarsDraft. Later, though, StarsDraft would restrict itself to just four states.
- CBS Sportsline would launch DFS, before shuttering it a few months later.
- DFS starts lobbying in Florida, a sign of things to come, as lobbying at the state level starts to become a necessity.
- Tens of millions of dollars in commercial spending by DraftKings and FanDuel would increase interest in DFS, but would also invite the scrutiny of public officials.
- DraftKings signed deals with a dozen NFL teams.
- DraftKings rolls out fantasy eSports, right before FanDuel buys AlphaDraft.
- Talk of a Congressional hearing began; so far, a hearing has not been scheduled.
- DraftKings gets the green light as legal in Massachusetts from the attorney general.
- An industry-friendly bill surfaces in Illinois.
- DFS made it into a presidential debate.
- The now infamous DraftKings data leak. A report would eventually clear a DraftKings employee from any wrongdoing.
- A federal grand jury regarding DFS is convened in Florida.
- Nevada says DFS is gambling under state law, and requires a license.
- FanDuel applies for a UK gaming license.
- An industry-friendly bill surfaces in Florida.
- Massachusetts AG Maura Healey proposes industry-friendly regulations.
- New York’s attorney general begins his battle against DraftKings and FanDuel.
- New Jersey’s legislature holds a contentious hearing on DFS.
- In New York, DraftKings and FanDuel get a stay of a preliminary injunction that was granted earlier in the day by a lower court; that stay will be considered Jan. 4.
- DFS for NBA shows signs of huge growth.
- Illinois’ AG says DFS is illegal gambling under state law.