Books have been, and might be, written in regards to the rise of the 2 DFS giants and their pivot to sportsbook betting. And a central storyline will at all times be the divergent experiences of each units of founders.
DraftKings’ three founders are nonetheless on the helm of a now publicly-traded firm with a market cap over USD10 billion. In the meantime, FanDuel’s founders are engaged in a authorized battle in opposition to their very own early buyers after receiving nothing from the sale of the corporate.
Amidst that backdrop, LSR caught up with Eccles by way of cellphone to debate the way forward for the US sportsbook betting market and the way Eccles will proceed to play a job in it.
LSR: How does it really feel having to undergo a courtroom case whereas seeing DraftKings take pleasure in such a profitable reverse IPO?
Eccles: I believe it’s nice actually. Credit score to Jason Robins and his staff. They actually constructed that firm via a number of challenges, similar to we did. The co-plaintiffs on the go well with are actually pleased with what we did with FanDuel. We simply want the previous board had acted responsibly and didn’t successfully defraud us.
LSR: How is that lawsuit progressing?
Eccles: New York courts are fairly gradual. It might take 4 years from submitting to get via to courtroom. However we’re assured.
It’s apparent to folks on the surface that FanDuel didn’t go from being price USD1.2 billion the 12 months earlier than to USD559 million on the opportune second. And that additionally occurred to be the precise value degree that was wanted for the buyers to seize your complete upside from the deal.
Now we have unbelievable legal professionals and it’s a litigation agency, so we’re planning to take this all the best way to courtroom.
LSR: Are you continue to concerned within the US betting and DFS trade?
Eccles: I do a number of consultancy work with buyers. There’s been large curiosity in DraftKings lately and a little bit bit on GAN additionally.
LSR: What do you make of the DK valuation?
Eccles: I don’t assume it’s irrational in any respect. Take a look at their market share at this time. What’s going to vary that sooner or later?
If we give FanDuel 40%, DraftKings 30% – what’s going to vary to make these shares change? Are the tier-two companies going to leap ahead? Or a brand new entrant?
I’m not likely bullish about any of these tier-twos besides possibly BetMGM. They’ve a very good platform, expertise available in the market, and a nationwide model.
In any other case, William Hill has carried out a very good job in retail however is subscale online. PointsBet has carried out a very good job however its subscale. In the event that they’ve not made massive inroads in two years why do we expect it is going to be totally different within the subsequent two years? I believe it seems prefer it does at this time.
LSR: What a few newcomer like bet365?
Eccles: If bet365 say: ‘we’re going to get severe about this and spend lots of of tens of millions,’ that might make a distinction. However in the intervening time they’re three years in and have carried out nothing.
Bear in mind, bet365 invested £20 million once they began and have been worthwhile ever since. I believe they take a look at the US and assume: ‘if we wish to get actual, we have to spend half a billion’ and I can’t see them doing that.
I’m additionally not seeing curiosity from customers in a product as deep as bet365. The US prospects are nonetheless excited you possibly can go right into a sportsbook in DC and place a wager. That’s a information article right here.
So for those who take that to the net aspect, individuals are not going from one app to a different due to options. It’s about who’s providing the most important bonus and spending probably the most on advertisements.
So possibility one to shake the market up is bet365 get severe. Choice two is ESPN might get severe. Or, these two pair up and so they may very well be the primary participant, with that platform and ESPN’s model.
LSR: Do you assume ESPN’s proprietor Disney would make that leap? They’ve dominated out turning into an operator beforehand and now have a 6% stake in DraftKings …
Eccles: I believe they’d do it. They obtained very shut with The Stars Group and I believe Fox Guess was the comfort prize there. Disney has a brand new CEO now and it might be unbelievable for them to sleep on the most important alternative in sportsbook for 20 years once they have such a robust model.
Their cable revenues are in decline. The 6% stake in DK is tiny for them. And this DraftKings valuation has made so many individuals lookup.
This can be a USD20 billion trade simply from online sportsbook betting. You’ll be able to add the identical once more for casino, and DraftKings has 30% share. In the event that they maintain onto that, it’s USD6 billion in betting and USD6 billion in online casino.
LSR: We’ve seen that online sportsbook betting market share in different nations all over the world is usually capped round 25%. However you and different sensible folks assume the US might be totally different?
Eccles: I believe it’s going to appear like US telecoms. Two corporations might be very worthwhile after which everybody else is loss-making.
What do you might want to earn cash on this market? You should have a nationwide presence. These regional guys will lose cash in the long term and exit. The opposite factor you want is a willingness to lose lots of of tens of millions to get to scale.
That wasn’t the case within the UK and these different markets. Everybody was getting cash for a decade there. Take a look at DraftKings. They burnt USD143 million final 12 months, and so they had been solely online in a few states.
The entry payment for this market simply goes up and up. The online casino teams might be too conservative. By the point folks see how massive this market is, it’ll be too late for rivals.
An investor requested me some time again, in the event that they funded me, would I launch a sportsbook? I stated give me USD200 million and I might do it. That quantity might be USD500 million now.
LSR: How does that stratification have an effect on FanDuel and its newly-acquired Fox Guess model?
Eccles: What’s the purpose of proudly owning a second-tier model? Perhaps it made sense for Paddy Energy Betfair to run a dual-brand technique within the UK, however there’s actually no distinction between FanDuel and Fox Guess. So why spend lots of of tens of millions on licensing each after which spend advertising cash on competing with one another. It doesn’t make sense to me.
I believe they in the end fold Fox Guess beneath FanDuel and so they’ll do tremendous from that. Perhaps that can occur when Flutter has full management of FanDuel, which might occur by the summer time of 2023.
LSR: So that you weren’t tempted by the provide to get again into the trade?
Eccles: I wouldn’t be excited to be an operator. The winners are already fairly obvious. This isn’t a market the place the very best product wins or innovation actually issues. That is the place the individual with probably the most cash and first rate execution wins.
As an entrepreneur, it’s not that thrilling. There’s probably house on the edges of the marketplace for start-ups, however positively not on the operator aspect.
LSR: Perhaps on the affiliate aspect then, the place your new firm Flick may match?
Eccles: Again within the early days of FanDuel, we constructed an amazing neighborhood with a very good communication device. However as we scaled we determined to chop stay chat and I’ve at all times regretted it. Then the entire neighborhood migrated to Rotogrinders, and so they bought that on to opponents.
So after I left FanDuel, my thesis was that there’s a chance for a platform for stay sport. The place do I hang around after I’m watching sportsbook? That’s Flick.
LSR: Is that this not what Twitter is for?
Eccles: Twitter is the most important competitors. The difficulty with Twitter is that it’s not a chat platform. It’s good for giving feedback. However it’s completely disorganized with the feed mannequin.
Flick is extra like Slack for sportsbook with distinct channels. So that you is perhaps in a Manchester United group the place you don’t wish to combine with Liverpool followers. And Flick will ship you a notification an hour earlier than the sport begins and scoring updates and so forth.
LSR: What’s the betting angle?
Eccles: We’ll monetize it by integrating with sportsbook betting platforms. However we’re not a betting neighborhood, ours is a sportsbook neighborhood.
LSR: Is there urge for food from operators?
Eccles: Within the US, if Osama Bin Laden was providing customers for USD250, they’d take it. However our focus isn’t lead era. It’s buying prospects and bringing them again to the platform usually. There’s completely an urge for food for it.
LSR: Folks have tried and failed for many years to make betting extra social. What have you ever realized from these efforts?
Eccles: Nobody has found out social betting and we expect we all know why. Everybody made the identical mistake. They began with a betting product, then tried so as to add social. However social is de facto laborious.
It’s taken us two years to essentially get it proper. I believe Betfair did it finest with the boards, however they’ve carried out nothing with them for 20 years. We’ve constructed the social product first after which we’re going so as to add betting.