DraftKings CEO Sees More Innovation in U.S. Sports Betting

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John Locher/AP
August 22, 2018

By Conor White

DraftKings' sports betting program is now live in New Jersey, making it the first product to roll out since the Supreme Court's landmark decision in May to allow such forms of gambling.

And CEO Jason Robins says the industry is only going to see more innovation from here.

"If you look over at the UK, for example, there's been a lot of innovation with in-game betting and other sorts of things, and that's just never been possible for a company like ours," he said Wednesday in an interview on Cheddar. "I think you're going to see all kinds of cool stuff."

DraftKings launched as a fantasy sports platform in 2012, offering players a chance to win cash prizes. The company long maintained users were playing a game of skill ー not one of chance ー and were therefore not gambling.

Betting on sports, after all, was illegal, thanks to the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992. But in 2011, New Jersey voters passed a referendum to allow sports gambling at the state's casinos and racetracks. The NCAA, NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL all sued and were counter-sued by the state.

As soon as the Supreme Court announced in 2017 it would hear the case, Murphy v. NCAA, Robins knew his company needed to be proactive, and he said DraftKings was preparing for a new regulatory landscape long before an official ruling from the bench.

"We've been working on [the product] for over a year now," Robins said. "I think people were pretty surprised that we brought a full-featured product to the market. There's still a lot to do, but it had a lot of features that I think most people wouldn't think of in a first minimum viable product launch."

He acknowledged the company was investing heavily in something that was far from certain, but felt it was too great an opportunity to pass up.

"We also felt like, even if the ruling didn't come down the way it did, that this was an inevitability."

For full interview click here.