Despite the tumult surrounding daily fantasy sports in the United States, FanDuel is hoping to expand into Britain, although its exact plans are still apparently undecided, Bloomberg reported Friday. The company would join its chief U.S. competitor, DraftKings, and smaller shop Mondogoal in offering daily fantasy games across the Atlantic.
FanDuel has applied for a gambling license in Britain, as was first reported by the site LegalSportsReport, which would allow it to offer fantasy games outside the United States for the first time. CEO Nigel Eccles said he aimed to launch a British product sometime next year, calling the international expansion an experiment. “I think it’s an interesting proposition,” he told Bloomberg. “Candidly, we’re going to test the waters, but it’s an unknown. Everyone needs to prove that there is a market outside the U.S."
Fantasy sports haven't grown in popularity in Europe as they have in the United States -- both DraftKings and FanDuel have each been valued at more than $1 billion -- in part because the continent's favorite sport, soccer, involves less scoring than, for instance, American football. A British version could be far different from the American to accommodate soccer's extreme popularity.
“It may not even be a daily fantasy product. I told the guys, come to me with a skill-based product in the U.K. that you think will work,” Eccles told Bloomberg. “We think that sports is universal, but the way people engage with sports is different, and the right game for them might be different in every country.” Eccles also noted that FanDuel is not considering offering something that would resemble traditional sports gambling, but could perhaps offer a subscription-based service rather than a series of individual games that require entry fees.
Daily fantasy sports came under scrutiny last month after a DraftKings employee unintentionally leaked customer data the same week he won $350,000 in a FanDuel contest. Amid concerns the employee had an unfair competitive advantage, demands are rising for regulation of the industry, which had previously gone largely unregulated. Eccles has come out in support of some form of regulation.
Regulatory costs in Europe have raised concerns about whether daily fantasy can work overseas. The largely soccer-focused Mondogoal said it pays 15 percent of its gross revenue in taxes and that 20 percent of its costs are spent on regulatory expenses, according to Bloomberg. FanDuel already has split headquarters in Edinburgh, Scotland, and New York City.