All the hype surrounding daily fantasy sports has not only earned the industry scrutiny from lawmakers, but has also drawn attention from the investigative reporting program Frontline. The organization, in conjunction with the New York Times, recently featured interviews with DFS heavy hitters, including FanDuel’s Chief Financial Officer Matt King, who commented on everything from his company’s birth, to his thoughts on the UIGEA and poker.
The evolution of FanDuel
Speaking about the company’s background, King said that the FanDuel founders had met in a tech networking event, and went on to build “a news service that allowed people to interact with it.” While the young entrepreneurs received millions of dollars in funding, they soon realized that they had no way to monetize their product. That’s when the idea of creating a daily fantasy site came about.
In looking at their user base, they realized that sports [news] fans were voracious consumers of content. They were highly engaged in sports, and then within that, they found that fantasy sports fans were actually more engaged than the average sports fan. And so they started to look at fantasy sports as being this market that had all the makings of being a really interesting market to operate in.
More FanDuel tidbits
- 50 to 60% of FanDuel’s user base is under the age of 30
- Most of them are males
- It has several million paid players, with 20,000 to 30,000 new players signing up each day
- It boasts partnerships with 16 NFL teams and 13 NBA teams
King was also asked for his thoughts on the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, the legislation which presumably gives daily fantasy sites the legal green light that they need to operate.
He explained FanDuel’s opinion as follows:
I don’t think it’s fair to call it [an] exemption rather simply saying, look there is a bucket of things that we are trying to regulate out here, and for the avoidance of doubt, there is a very discrete set of activities in fantasy sports that don’t qualify for any of this and are a very different set of activities.
Throwing poker under the bus
In a surprising statement, the FanDuel CFO claimed that daily fantasy was a skill game, but poker was not.
The reality is within poker, every time you shuffle the deck, it creates an element of luck that trumps it basically to being much more a chance-dominated game than a skill-dominated game. If you look at our data, the players that are good, are frankly consistently good. It is truly a game of skill. … Just like football or basketball. The more you practice, the better that you get.
King’s opinion is a strange one, being that many of the top DFS players were, or still are, successful professional online poker players. Matt ‘SamENole’ Smith, Max Steinberg and Cory Albertson are all former poker players who have made a name for themselves in the DFS industry.