Last week’s announcement that DraftKings would become the first company to offer legal sports betting from mobile devices in New Jersey may sound innocuous, even unimportant.
But for those of us who have been keeping a keen eye on state-by-state legalization, this is a watershed moment for the future of mobile sports betting in the United States. We’ll explore the complicated reasons for this a little later in the article, but first let us learn a little more about DraftKings and why their move into the sportsbook services in the US could be the start of a period of sweeping change.
What is DraftKings?
DraftKings initially made its name in the realm of fantasy sports, particularly in the US’ expansive industry. Instead of solely running traditional games, DraftKings took the process a step further. It allowed players to pick their respective fantasy teams in a number of sports and then pay a fee to enter a tournament against other fantasy players. This is known as daily fantasy sports.
DraftKings offers a range of fantasy sports tournaments with particular focus on North American leagues, such as the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, NASCAR, and the CFL. The company also offers fantasy games for soccer, golf, tennis, MMA, and recently introduced the chance to compete in fantasy tournaments for League of Legends.
With the state of sports betting in the US uncertain, but with a potentially huge future market for sports betting via mobile, DraftKings has become one of the first companies to develop a standalone mobile app for sports betting. That’s the one it released in New Jersey.
This new app changes the focus from fantasy sports to actual sports betting on an initially small selection of sports.
Why is this ground-breaking?
This New Jersey move could be the first corporate, if not legislative, step toward the spread of legal sports betting in the United States. The app’s release was made possible in May when New Jersey won a Supreme Court case, which allowed in-state sports betting.
DraftKings quite quickly teamed up with Atlantic City’s Resorts Casino Hotel in order to meet the criteria for the launch of their app last week.
Sports betting in America
Despite the Supreme Court ruling, only West Virginia is poised to offer new, state-wide mobile sports betting to its residents in the near future. (This kind of betting was already legal in Nevada and deemed legal in New Jersey with the ruling.)
There are a number of other states evaluating such prospects, but the situation is very fluid at the moment.
Sports book providers argue the currently confusing state laws on gaming enable many issues. These include problem gambling, racketeering and illegal sports-booking. They argue a simplified, nationwide approach to sports betting, online and otherwise, would not only reduce the negative effects of these activities but also allow states to raise significant revenue from taxation on sports betting.
On which sports will DraftKings offer mobile betting?
There are some simple rules on the DraftKings Sports Book app.
First, you have to be over 21 years of age and physically within the state of New Jersey in order to place a bet. You can open an account with DraftKings Sports Book outside New Jersey and also withdraw funds from outside New Jersey, but again, to actually place a bet, you must physically be in the state.
NFL football and baseball are the betting highlights until new sports are added.
Will esports be part of DraftKings’ New Jersey app?
DraftKings started its service around standard sports before including League of Legends tournaments. Thus, it seems likely online esports betting would be a logical step for the company. However, there is no official confirmation that esports will be available any time soon.
Editorial credit: Daniel Chetroni / Shutterstock.com