The Evolution of DraftKings: From Idea to Billion-Dollar Fantasy Sports Giant

DraftKings is one of the biggest fantasy sports platforms in the US, with over 1.9 million active users. The evolution of DraftKings is a fascinating story that sheds light on the power of innovation in the world of sports and technology. 

In this post, we explore the challenges and successes that shaped DraftKings into today’s powerhouse. And if you want to try it out but can’t access the platform in your state due to geo-blocking, simply use a VPN for DraftKings. So, without further ado, let’s find out why DraftKings is so appealing to sports fans.

DraftKings Origins – How it All Started

Jason Robins, Matthew Kalish and Paul Liberman were executives at VistaPrint, which was an online printing company. However, the three friends all had a passion for sports and wanted to take the same concept of the online printing business and apply it to sports betting in 2012.

The trio then established DraftKings in 2012, and they ran the business from Paul’s apartment. Their first game was a one-on-one baseball competition, which was to coincide with Major League Baseball’s opening in 2012. In April 2013, DraftKings was about to go down in history. Major League Baseball invested in the company, which was the first time a massive sports organization had invested in a fantasy sports platform.

The Growth of DFS Between 2014 and 2015

In just under two years, DraftKings was reported to have gained at least 50,000 daily active users. More than 1 million people became registered users of the platform. In DraftKing’s first full year of business, it had already been awarded $50 million in prizes.

Within two years, DraftKings had become the second-largest DFS provider in the industry. In July 2014, the company acquired DraftStreet, which was the third-largest company in fantasy sports. Then, in August, DraftKings received at least $41 million in investments from a few high-profile venture capital firms.

One of the goals of the DraftKings founders was to become partners with most of the major sports leagues in the US. After Major League Baseball invested in the company, it became the biggest DFS provider for the National Hockey League.

DraftKings Challenges

In a perfect world, any company that opens its doors will never have to experience challenges. But unfortunately, even big-time companies like DraftKings experience setbacks. After experiencing a slew of successful partnerships, DraftKings had to start pulling its services from several US states.

The Attorneys General for states like Texas, Nevada, New York and Hawaii agreed that fantasy sports betting didn’t align with their betting laws. This meant that sports fans wouldn’t be able to access DraftKings in states where it’s been made illegal.

This led to ESPN withdrawing its investment from DraftKings. The company’s competitor, FanDuel, was going through the same setback, so the two decided to partner together. However, this created more problems for DraftKings and FanDuel as the Federal Trade Commission filed a lawsuit against the merger. The argument was that the two companies would violate antitrust laws.

FanDuel and DraftKings decided it wasn’t worth the hassle of fighting against the suit, so they called off their merger.

Moving into Sports Betting Territory

In May 2018, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act was responsible for the federal ban on sports betting in most US states since 1992. However, after consideration, each state’s government had a choice on whether sports betting was appropriate for their locals. DraftKings saw the opportunity and took it before another company did.

Just three months later, DraftKings launched the first-ever legal sports betting platform in New Jersey. Since then, the company has opened up sports betting in other states, such as Indiana, New York and West Virginia. It was incredibly successful for over a month in New Jersey before competitors started entering the market.  

What’s more, DraftKings was the first sports booking app to offer users a cash-out option. This allowed bettors to close out their open tickets if it appeared they would have a winning bet.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, DraftKings has been a successful fantasy sports betting platform for 12 years, and they don’t seem to be slowing down any time soon. The platform has an intuitive design, which makes for a positive user experience.

For those who can’t access DraftKings if you’re geo-blocked, you can still enjoy what the platform has to offer if you use a VPN service. You can then start betting on your favorite sports team, whether you’re into hockey, baseball or even tennis! 

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