Jeffrey Haas on DraftKings' European Mission

Jeffrey Haas on DraftKings' European Mission

Thursday, February 2, 2017 Posted by Sam Cooke

DFS giant DraftKings recently secured a Maltese Controlled Skill Gaming licence and soon after announced its intentions to launch in Germany in Q1 of 2017.

The operator entered the UK space around a year ago but with the past year fraught with costly legal battles in the States and merger negotiations with FanDuel, there wasn’t too much done in the way of marketing its product. It now seems that this year expansion in Europe is on the cards as DraftKings looks to make the millions of sports fans in the region fans of daily fantasy sports.

We spoke to DraftKings’ Chief International Officer Jeffrey Haas about year one in the UK, European plans and LatAm.

Totally Gaming: So this is DK's first European move since DKUK went live almost a year ago..why the wait?

Jeffrey Haas: Our launch in the UK was an opportunity for us to test and learn. We put a lot of time towards speaking with players, studying their behaviours, and tweaking our product to create a better experience for them.

And while we have made many improvements, we still have more work to do – though our data shows we are making good progress. In the UK, we have averaged nearly 20 percent month-over-month growth of our user base in the first nine months of operation, outpacing the growth curve of the US launch for the same time period. While this was going on, we were also making plans for further expansion.

TG: Which European markets do you think are the most ready/will be most receptive to DFS? You're starting out in Germany..

Haas: We are excited to bring our games to millions of passionate European sports fans. We think we can expand our addressable audience by up to 100 million people this year, though of course Germany will be the largest of the markets therein.

We intend to launch there in Q1. The Controlled Skill Games License from the Malta Gaming Authority opens a lot of opportunity for us, and we will take a measured approach to expansion.

TG: Was Germany chosen due to its significant fanbases in sports other than football? How big a chunk of the overall player volume do you anticipate being football focused in Europe?

Haas: Football is obviously part of the DNA in Germany. We know this, as there are already millions of season long fantasy football players on popular platforms owned by sports leagues and media companies. Even the Bundesliga launched their own manager games product this season, for the first time. That said, while Germany has a very strong sports culture with football at its core, American sports including the NFL and NBA are also extremely popular.

In fact, we know from our partners at the NFL International Series here in the UK that Germany is one of their biggest international markets – with a long history of NFL activity. Germany hosted exhibition NFL games from 1991-1994; and NFL Europe operated here from 1995-2007 with five teams in Germany. While NFL Europe is no longer there, a lot of their fans still are.

As for other domestic German leagues, we are interested in offering all of them … just give us some time!

TG: Do you expect LatAm to become a DFS battleground for operators this year?

Haas: We already see DFS growing in Brazil with Escala11, and in Mexico with ChalkDFS.

Both seem to be doing a great job of creating awareness and excitement in our category. We will get to LATAM in time, but literally have a world of opportunity to choose from. Right now, we are focused on bringing our games to Europe. It’s an exciting time to be in our space, and I love the competition! It’s great for consumers to have so much choice, and good for us as it puts pressure on us to both excel and continue innovating.

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