DraftKings sponsoring Season XVI of the WPT European Championship might just be what Daily Fantasy Sports needs to win back public trust.
DraftKings memorabilia adorned the WPT for years before the Nevada Gaming Commission ordered DFS companies to cease operation within the State, killing its marketing deals with the WSOP and the WPT.
That remained for two years until the announcement that DraftKings will sponsor the televised WPT European Championship that runs from Jan. 10-15 at Spielbank Casino with a €1 million guarantee on the prize pool.
DraftKings won’t be the sole sponsor, but it will have a visible presence as part of their marketing strategy to expand their presence in Europe and will run eight WPT qualifiers via NFL and NBA contests as part of the deal.
The goal, according to the press release, is to “send daily fantasy winners on a trip to Europe for a VIP poker experience.”
This is a complete 180 from the last two years, in which they’ve kept any gambling association at arm’s length, though, ironically, embracing their poker buddies might help them recover from this:
That was part of John Oliver’s report on Daily Fantasy, one of many that came out in 2015. After millions in aggressive marketing campaigns, the public had turned against DFS.
Daily Fantasy Sports and Gambling
In an interview, Matt King, FanDuel’s chief financial officer, infamously said DFS is not gambling because:
“…every time you talk to our users, what comes through loud and clear is the fact that we are an entertainment product.”
DFS executives seem to think it appears comforting, but to everyone else, it’s perceived as insidious and predatory. People may love gambling but they don’t like being roped into it under false pretenses.
Critics claimed DraftKings’ business dealings with poker events affiliate DFS with gambling, and they were absolutely right.
Daily Fantasy operators should market to gamblers, a recent Rutgers study found that 98 percent of DFS players engage in other forms of gambling.
So why not market to responsible gamblers already interested in a gambling game of skill?
FanDuel’s Matt King, however, sees no value in poker.
FanDuel markets to sports fans, the type of DFS players who quickly becomes fish for the game theory sharks (like poker players).
By openly connecting itself to poker again, DraftKings is showing signs of warming up to the gambling label, and introducing “Pick’em” shows they’re not afraid to add variance to their game of skill.
This honesty will help them gain some public trust back as they expand through the European markets that FanDuel’s “entertainment product” leaves behind.