Fantasy Sports Giant DraftKings Will Delay Launch in U.K.

  • Start date once planned for this quarter now pushed into 2016
  • Several U.S. states have moved to outlaw daily fantasy

DraftKings Inc., one of the two biggest daily fantasy sports sites, will not be introduced in the U.K. this month as planned. Its international debut has been pushed to "early next year," spokeswoman Pippa Hancock said in an e-mail.

DraftKings and its main rival, FanDuel Inc., have come under fire in the last several months. Lawmakers in a number of states have raised questions over the legality of their daily fantasy sports, which some see as a form of sports betting. The two companies are currently battling an order by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman that declared them to be gambling and therefore illegal in the industry’s most lucrative state.

Hancock didn’t provide a reason for DraftKings’ delay. Jeffrey Haas, the company’s London-based chief international officer, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment. Haas said as recently as Nov. 15 that the debut was on track for this year and that the company was testing its mobile product.

DraftKings earlier this year received a U.K. gaming license and began assembling a team of 20 in London. Haas said in October that they wouldn’t repeat the ad blitz that made DraftKings the biggest television advertiser in the U.S. this fall and ultimately invited the scrutiny of regulators.

There are about 8.5 million season-long fantasy sports users in the U.K., said Haas, a former poker executive hired to lead the international expansion. If the company can convince 15 percent of those to play its daily games -- the ratio it saw in the U.S. -- DraftKings would count about 1.3 million new customers.

FanDuel is in the process of applying for the same U.K. license acquired last year by DraftKings. British fans can already play daily fantasy sports games offered by companies including Mondogoal, for soccer, and PlayOn, which also offers cricket-based games.

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