If DraftKings Owns It Is A Gambling Company, No Judgments Here

Written By Martin Derbyshire on December 21, 2018 - Last Updated on January 13, 2023
DraftKings won't take much flack over the introduction of casino games to its mobile sportsbook platform.

Will DraftKings take some flack over the introduction of casino games to its NJ sports betting platform? Probably not.

After all, the country’s leading daily fantasy sports (DFS) company turned sportsbook operator has received a free pass in the past.

Remember when they spent years telling the world DFS isn’t gambling, then dove head first into the first opportunity it had to get into the gambling business? Most of New Jersey clearly doesn’t. Despite the hypocrisy, NJ has made DraftKings’ first up-front foray into gambling the top-grossing sports betting operation in the state.

DraftKings removed all doubt that it is a gambling company when it launched the first phase of its NJ online casino platform this week.

DraftKings Casino is now incorporated into the existing DraftKings Sportsbook app as of Monday.

Right now, it’s only offering is online blackjack, but more casino games are clearly in the works. The app started only available for Android users; however, it launched on iOS option a day later.

Gambling is a new business for DraftKings. That is if you believe the company’s previous statements. But boy, they sure are catching on fast. In fact, it took them just a few months to realize the margins on casino games are a whole lot better than sports.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that

It’s not as if there’s anything wrong with a mobile sportsbook app giving its customers the option to play casino games in a jurisdiction where it’s all legal and above board. In fact, it’s just good customer service. Plus, it displays a keen understanding of the synergies between the different gambling verticals.

It’s just that anyone who’s been around the online gambling sphere awhile will remember another “skill game” operator once took a lot of heat over its introduction of games of chance.

The world’s largest online poker site launched online casino games in 2014, just a few short years after US authorities booted it out of the country.

PokerStars took a ton of flack over the move. The first-ever multiple European Poker Tour title winner, respected writer and UK TV presenter Victoria Coren-Mitchell quit her lucrative sponsorship deal with PokerStars over it.

Coren-Mitchell made quite a public spectacle of it, terminating the endorsement contract and releasing a statement claiming her principles forced her to quit.

She ultimately said walking away was the right thing to do. Mainly because she felt uncomfortable endorsing casino games that offer unfavorable odds and can be dangerous for the “vulnerable or desperate,” especially online.

Apparently, Coren-Mitchell is in the camp that believes poker, like DFS, isn’t gambling. All the similarities must be a coincidence.

Even PokerStars biggest apologist applauded the move. Poker celebrity Daniel Negreanu has forgiven the company for everything from raising the rake to arguably ripping off its highest-volume players. However, he praised Coren-Mitchell’s decision to quit. Although apparently, Negreanu’s support of Coren-Mitchell was more about her sticking to her principles than sharing them personally.

The truth shall set you free

Regardless of the public backlash, PokerStars moved forward with casino games. It’s now in the sports betting business under the FOX bet Sportsbook brand as well. Plus, it’s back in the US offering all three verticals in NJ.

Coincidentally, it now operates in New Jersey under the same Resorts Casino Hotel licenses that DraftKings does.

Although DraftKings won’t experience anywhere near the same backlash, PokerStars did as it moves around the gambling sphere. Nor should it just as long as the company is now willing to admit the business that it is in. And it leaves the hypocrisy in the past.

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Martin Derbyshire

Martin Derbyshire has more than ten years of experience reporting on the poker, online gambling, and land-based casino industries for a variety of publications including Bluff Magazine, PokerNews, and PokerListings. He has traveled extensively, attending tournaments and interviewing major players in the gambling world.

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