Vantiv CEO On Daily Fantasy Sports Exit: ‘Prudent To Suspend Processing’

Posted on February 3, 2016

The CEO of Vantiv, a major payment processor for the daily fantasy sports industry serving the likes of DraftKings and FanDuel, talked about its impending exit from DFS in Wednesday’s earnings call.

Vantiv’s comments on DFS were first reported by the Boston Globe. You can listen to the earnings call here.

Last week, the New York Times reported that Vantiv sent a letter to clients about its intent to stop processing payments in the DFS space by the end of February.

What Vantiv said about DFS

CEO Charles Drucker touched on the reports about its plans to get out of the DFS business, at least for the time being. Here were his full comments:

“Before I hand the call over … I wanted to briefly address some recent press you may might have seen about Vantiv and daily fantasy sports. We have decided that it is prudent to suspend processing for transactions involving daily fantasy sports due to the increasing uncertain regulatory and judicial environment around these operations.

Importantly, revenue from daily fantasy sports is not material to the overall business and will have no impact on the outlook as we discussed today.

We may reenter the space in the future, should conditions change. In the meantime, we remain firmly committed to processing for online and land-based gaming operators, including state lotteries and other regulated gaming activities, where the regulatory and judicial framework are more clearly established.”

Vantiv revenue

Exactly how much revenue Vantiv generates from the DFS industry is unknown, but it did account for a large portion of the $3.7 billion that flowed through DFS operators last year.

What we do know, after Wednesday’s earnings report, is what Vantiv’s financials looked like, overall:

  • For the fourth quarter, revenue increased 16% to $852 million as compared to $734 million in the prior year period.
  • Net revenue increased 13% to $453 million as compared to $402 million in the prior year period.
  • For 2015, revenue increased 23% to $3.16 billion as compared to $2.58 billion in the prior year.
  • Also for 2015, net revenue increased 20% to $1.68 billion as compared to $1.4 billion in the prior year.

What’s next for DFS and Vantiv?

It appears that the DFS industry — or at least DraftKings — may not let Vantiv leave without a fight. On Friday, DraftKings counsel David Boies released a statement that said, in part, “Vantiv is under court order to continue to fulfill its contractual obligation to DraftKings.”

Boies’ statement likely refers to a temporary restraining order issued by a Massachusetts court ordering Vantiv to continue to do business in New York. Vantiv had previously told companies that it expected them to stop serving the New York market, after the attorney general there issued cease-and-desist orders to DraftKings and FanDuel.

Since then, Vantiv also filed suit in New York, asking the court to decide whether it was obligated to continue processing payments in New York.

A number of attorneys general have also weighed in on the legality of DFS since the NY AG took action in November — several in recent weeks. That is likely what triggered Vantiv’s action, and may have changed its calculus regarding legal risk in serving DFS operators.

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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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