You have to give it to DraftKings CEO Jason Robins. The man is not afraid change tack on an instant and pounce on opportunity. His company just spent untold amounts of time and money over the last several years making the case to lawmakers across the country that the DraftKings daily fantasy sports product is not sports betting.
After all that work, Robins is ready to turn around and embrace the very thing that he had to distance himself from in order to grow the company and establish a legal basis for its existence. But as the Supreme Court mulls over New Jersey’s sports betting case, Robins and DraftKings are getting ahead of a decision that just might end the federal sports betting prohibition.
In an interview with the Associated Press last week, Jason Robins confirmed DraftKings is “certainly going to go after it” and take up the sports betting business if the federal ban is lifted.
If the Supreme Court rules in favor of New Jersey and strikes down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), each state would regain the authority to legalize and regulate sports betting as it sees fit.
DraftKings is “certainly going to go after it” if that happens. Robins also told the AP that he believes (and is hopeful) that the Supreme Court will rule in favor of New Jersey and repeal the national ban.
A Natural Fit with Big Potential
Numerous states have already expressed an interest in doing exactly that. Bills have been submitted (and enacted) in multiple states to legalize sports betting on the condition that the national sports betting ban is lifted. Just last month, for example, Rhode Island became the latest state to seriously consider making sports betting a reality for its residents.
DraftKings is already active in most states in the US and it stands to reason that its user base overlaps heavily with potential sports betting customers. DraftKings is already established as a sports provider, has experience dealing with statistics, managing large numbers of customers and assessing risk.
That’s not the mention DraftKings already having puts its name in front of so many customers as it is. The name is associated with sports, it has the experience and it has the customer base. Taking up sports betting just makes sense.
Robins obviously feels the same way. Here’s how he put it in his interview with the AP:
“Most of the people I know who bet on sports play fantasy, and vice versa. And they’re doing it for basically the same reason: It makes sports more interesting.
“Fantasy will continue to grow, and may even be able to grow faster. So we can’t take our eye off the ball. They’re both very important products for us to focus on.”
When that happens, it will almost certainly be a mad rush as a massive new industry opens for business. Americans already bet billions of dollars a year on sports betting via illegal means as it is. If the US opens for business when it comes to sports betting, it may eventually become a $16 billion industry.
No Intention to Quit Fantasy Sports
Robins also confirmed in his interview with the AP that DraftKings has no intention to neglect its fantasy sports division if sports betting becomes legal. When asked about dropping DFS to focus on betting, Robins pointed to Amazon, which began as a simple online bookseller but expanded as new opportunities came along.
“I don’t think you have to make that trade-off. If you feel there is a big market, which we obviously do, you have to go for both of those,” he told the AP. “There’s no reason why people can’t play both. I still buy all my books from Amazon.”
“Fantasy will continue to grow, and may even be able to grow faster,” he said. “So we can’t take our eye off the ball. They’re both very important products for us to focus on.”