DraftKings Eyeing Ireland as Next Hotspot for Global Expansion

Posted on: August 16, 2017, 12:15h. 

Last updated on: August 16, 2017, 12:15h.

DraftKings is setting its sights on expansion into Ireland. The DFS giant has not set a launch date for its Irish platform, but confirmed this week through Chief International Officer Jeffery Haas that it expects to roll out services to citizens of the Emerald Isle later this year.

Jeffrey Haas, charged with taking DraftKings to the world
DraftKings’ Chief International Officer Jeffrey Haas is smiling at what he sees as a large untapped DFS market in Ireland, and says his company plans to roll out its Irish client before the end of the year. (Image: Fora.ie)

Haas told Irish press this week that his company had been in touch with the Irish Department of Finance to open discussions on how DFS, as a “skill game,” should be taxed, and is hopeful about forging marketing partnerships with Irish media and technology companies.

The news comes barely a month after DraftKings’ primary competitor FanDuel pulled out of the UK market after just a year of operation.

‘Pent-up Demand’

The jury’s still out on whether there is a market for DFS outside the US, especially in countries such as the UK and Ireland, where traditional sports betting is widely available and embedded in the culture.

Haas believes there is.

“If you do a search on Twitter for ‘DraftKings’ and ‘Ireland’, you will see dozens of request from players asking when we’re coming,” Haas told Fora.ie. “There’s clearly pent-up demand that already exists.”

The move seems to signify a strategic decision by Boston-based DraftKings to go in a direction that is quite distinct from its primary DFS competitor, FanDuel, which is headquartered in New York City.

Two Directions for DFS

After experiencing massive growth in 2015 and 2016 the two companies intended to merge, creating one absolute giant in the DFS gaming space. But that plan was quashed in July when the Federal Trade Commission opposed the merger on antitrust grounds.

In 2015, DraftKings raised about $300 million earmarked for aiding the company’s international expansion ambitions, with plans to move into Europe, Asia, and Latin America in 2016. But instead, DraftKings found itself shifting resources toward lawyers and lobbyists to fight legal battles and regulatory challenges that were beginning to surface.

Still, DraftKings did launch in both the UK and Germany, albeit with little marketing fanfare. FanDuel likewise began setting up shop overseas, but shortly after merger plans fell apart, they opted to retreat from Europe and instead concentrate on its core US market.

Now, less than a month later, Haas and DraftKings are ready to double down on their efforts to bring DFS to the rest of the world.

“Irish sports fans are incredibly passionate and they make themselves known wherever they are found,” Haas said. “I’ve seen that attending a lot of Liverpool matches at Anfield Stadium. I know Liverpool FC is very popular in Ireland and we have a great partnership with Liverpool.”

Like the UK offering, DraftKing’s Irish product is expected to be heavily focused on soccer. There is no word yet on whether it will include contests based around uniquely Irish sports like Gaelic football or hurling.