Mention “DraftKings” to any A sports fan and there is no denying that they would have heard of the name. The online “bookmaker” has been making waves all over the United States with its “Play Fantasy Sports” slogan. WSOP, UFC, and the NFL have all adopted the online sports betting concept and now it looks to set to arrive in the UK and push the online betting industry to new financial heights. New figures released by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) say that the online realm is driving the industry forward and DraftKings will almost add to that.
Described as going “through the roof” during the past four years, the gaming yield/handle has swelled in size by almost 55%, pushing figures up to nearly £3 billion, a growth of over £1 billion on 2010’s figures. The new figures mean that the UK market represents 13% of the world’s total gross gaming handle/yield, which itself stood at a massive £23.76 billion. Betting revenues have increased by nearly a quarter to a little over £6 billion, which is 143% increase on the same time in 2010. The reason for the rise is being attributed to online betting, which has increased by nearly 84%. The introduction of in-play betting and mobile online sports betting platforms has worked to increase user interaction ten-fold. Football betting sits at the top of the pile in terms of popularity, with match-day and outright tournament betting making up nearly 50% of all bets made. New registrations are at their highest point in history at over 6.2 million in 2014, with active customer levels increasing by 60%.
DraftKings is near
Due to sports betting regulation in the US, most users have to be content on betting on made up sporting events, thus DraftKings has found a real market. Many are wondering what its eventual arrival in the UK will mean for the industry, as given the company’s latest movements in the US it could mean a great deal. The company has just reached a major partnership agreement with Disney-owned sports-broadcasting powerhouse ESPN to become its official fantasy sports partner. What this means to the average punter is that DraftKings’ advertising, promotional material, and branding will now be featured heavily across all ESPN broadcasts and online content. ESPN already had a fantasy sports audience of over 12 million, so many believe that deal with DraftKings will sew up the industry before they attempt to bring the product to the UK. Speaking on the arrangement ESPN president John Skipper said, “Both DraftKings and ESPN have long-standing histories for advancing the world of fantasy sports, together we will continue to service the needs of both company’s fan bases”. He also said “DraftKings is one of the most dynamic companies in the world of fantasy sports and has deep-rooted connections to their fans. We couldn’t be more excited about working with them moving forward and having them on-board as one of our official partners”. Looking at DraftKings, it is clear that they have made a serious impact on the US sports betting scene.
Stepping into the future
What DraftKings represents is a new dimension to the UK based sports betting marketplace. Fantasy sports in the UK have always represented a fun past time more than a serious venture, but that could very well be about to change. Considering the growth of the UK sports betting scene, it is clear that there is a market for new innovation. While it is early days at this point, there is no denying that DraftKings represents an interesting concept that many UK based punters might just fall in-love with.