September 8th, 2017
American fantasy sports site DraftKings is crossing the pond for its latest venture. Titled ‘The Drop Zone,’ this new fantasy football league game works in a similar fashion to the English Premiership. Players will have to battle opponents to avoid being demoted, and those that avoid it the longest will win a bonus cash prize!
The Drop Zone is inspired by the English Premier League, but instead of waiting a year for the bottom three teams to be relegated, the fantasy league will eject three players out of 20 each week. The remaining 17 players will then be joined by three more as the week resets and the action begins again.
Those participants who manage to stay out of the Drop Zone the longest will receive additional bonus rewards on top of the cash prizes and football-related rewards on offer. In order to qualify for the Drop Zone, players must have completed a qualifying round at the start of the 2017-18 season. DraftKings' Chief International Officer Jeffrey Haas said:
"We’re expecting this Premier League season to have more twists and turns than ever before and as fantasy sports continue to grow in the UK, DraftKings is excited to launch The Drop Zone contest to add to the excitement and fan experience."
On the back of the Drop Zone, the daily fantasy sports company is also exploring options to expand its fantasy gaming services to the Republic of Ireland. Haas suggested that DraftKings was aiming for a launch in the Emerald Isle sometime in late 2017, but there were no definitive dates or figures given for such a deal.
DraftKings sees no restrictions on operating in Ireland under current EU or Irish law. As Haas explained:
"There’s no relevant, local regulation that covers our activities. So we wanted to speak with Irish Revenue in respect to their tax review to explain our position and how we intend to enter into the market. Let’s see how our (Irish) business becomes established and grows over time."
According to a report in Irish newspaper Fora, Haas wrote a letter explaining:
"Irish sports fans are incredibly passionate and they make themselves known wherever they’re 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."
DraftKing’s rise in the UK comes off the back of its nearest rivals FanDuel abandoning the UK market after only one season. The company originally launched its fantasy sport services in August 2016 after reaching an agreement with sports data firm Opta.
FanDuel made its players aware of the decision in July 2017, and offered a refund to any players who had already paid for the new season in advance. This coincides with a decision by both companies to halt plans for a merger.
Competition and monopoly concerns were raised by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in America, which had sought to suspend the deal with an injunction as it would effectively give the new entity over 90% of the fantasy sports market.
The two companies then entered into litigation with the FTC, but the abandonment of the merger has also led to the legal action being dropped. Markus H. Meier, Acting Director of the Bureau of Competition, released a statement saying that:
"The parties' decision to abandon this transaction is a clear win for American consumers. For years, the vigorous competition between DraftKings and FanDuel has spurred innovation and favourable pricing. In brief, consumers benefitted from the intense rivalry between the two leading players in this space. If this merger had been allowed to go through, those benefits would likely have been lost."
DraftKings CEO Jason Robins said:
"We believe it’s in the best interests of our customers, employees, and investors to terminate our agreement to merge with FanDuel and move forward as a separate company."
FanDuel CEO Nigel Eccles echoed this when stating:
"FanDuel decided to merge with DraftKings last November, because we believed that this deal would have increased investment in growth and product development thereby benefiting consumers and the greater sports entertainment industry. There is still enormous, untapped market opportunity for FanDuel, and we will continue to execute our strategy to grow our business and further expand the fantasy sports industry."
The competition will no doubt still go on between the two fantasy sports companies. In the meantime, only DraftKings will be trading in the UK market. Soon, it may be the first fantasy sports site to trade in Ireland as well. Visit DraftKings today to check it out!