DraftKings Sets Sights on Irish Expansion
DraftKings, the once ubiquitous US daily fantasy sports site, is looking to expand its international operations to Ireland. It’s the first major expansion announcement from the company since US regulators put the brakes on its proposed merger with its biggest rival, FanDuel.
News of the proposed expansion was first reported by business news site Fora.com and suggests that DraftKings will be moving quickly to stake ground in the Emerald Isle. The company’s chief international officer, Jeffrey Haas told the site that he hopes to have DraftKings Ireland fully operational by the end of the year.
As is so often the case with DraftKings, the company is taking great lengths to assure a place in the gaming marketplace, but definitely doesn’t want to be labelled, or regulated, like a gaming company. To that end, Haas recently submitted paperwork to the Irish Department of Finance requesting that his company be taxed at 4-5 percent and treated like an online skill game operator, not a bookmaker.
Though DraftKings is keen to do business in Ireland, company officials aren’t quite as eager to actually set up shop there. As of this writing, the company has no plans to actually open an office in Ireland. That said, Haas hedged his bets a bit when asked specifically about an Irish office saying, “Let’s see how our (Irish) business becomes established and grows over time.”
So why did DraftKings choose Ireland as the target of its international expansion? Haas told Fora it had to do with enthusiastic Irish football fans saying, “Irish sports fans are incredibly passionate and they make themselves known wherever they are found. 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.”
Should DraftKings actually secure a spot in the Irish market, it will have to content with Paddy Power, a very established Irish bookmaker that’s recently ventured into the daily fantasy sports market. That rivalry could wind up being as fierce as the rivalry with FanDuel. We’ll know for certain next year.