British fantasy sports fans are surely beginning to wonder, “Will DraftKings ever launch in the UK?”
According to a spokesperson for the US-based daily fantasy sports (DFS) operator, it is going to happen, but not according to the previously predicted schedule. For the fourth time since DraftKings UK received approval from the Gambling Commission, the launch date has been postponed, this time to “early next year”.
One of two daily fantasy sports betting giants in the North America (the other being FanDuel), Boston-based DraftKings first applied for “gambling software” and “pool betting” licenses from the UKGC back in June of this year. By August, DraftKings’ UK license was approved, at which time the company projected the DFS site would “be operational in the U.K. in the fourth quarter” of 2015.
In a September podcast interview with Dan Black of RotoGrinders, DraftKings CEO Jason Robins made two brow-raising predictions. He estimated that DraftKings UK would be up and running in October, and that it would share international player bases across the US, Canada and UK.
When the DFS site failed to launch that month, the Boston Globe published a report indicating that November 2015 would the month DraftKings becomes available to UK bettors. As we know now, that didn’t happen either.
The date was then pushed back to December, but by the middle of the month, Bloomberg was breaking the news from the DFS operator’s spokesperson Pippa Hancock that DraftKings would not experience an international launch until “early next year”.
No explanation was given for yet another delay, but if we take a look at all the circumstances and timid legal climate surrounding DraftKings’ existing operations in the US, it’s easy enough to speculate a number of reasons for the latest postponement.
Speculating the Delay of DraftKings UK Launch
As any American DFS fan already knows, the legality of daily fantasy sports has come under heavy fire across the US lately. It began with a series of lawsuits against FS operators for everything from false advertising and negligence, to fraud and racketeering, as well as allegations of employees using ‘inside information’ to win hundreds of thousands of dollars from contests on rival DFS sites. (Note that the employee was since cleared of any wrongdoing, and employees are no longer permitted to open accounts with rival operators.)
Then came the big question of legality. The US Department of Justice and Attorney Generals from several US states have begun scrutinizing DFS betting to determine whether it is a game of skill, as DraftKings and FanDuel claim, or a form of gambling.
DFS sites have already been ordered to cease operations in Nevada and New York, with Illinois close behind.
If nothing else, it can be assumed that the DraftKings UK launch delay can be attributed to the company’s focus being drawn to more pressing matters, such as those detailed above. The DFS giant is currently battling the pending prohibition of daily fantasy sport as a gambling activity in numerous US states, and could find itself taking on the same legal battle in Canada in the very near future.