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Ahead of NFL Draft, FanDuel CEO says sports betting will never be legalized across the country

Zack Guzman
Senior Writer

The NFL draft gets kicked off Thursday night in Nashville, Tennessee, but once again, FanDuel Sportsbook hopes at least some of the drama takes place in New Jersey.

That’s because once again, FanDuel is offering the chance for bettors to place a number of wagers on the draft, including which players are picked where and other prop bets.

“Offering something like the draft is hugely important,” FanDuel CEO Matt King told Yahoo Finance’s YFi PM. “But in terms of the size of bets we take and the total amount of bets, it’s not going to move the needle.”

Rather than an instant revenue generator, FanDuel views the draft as a tentpole event that can be used to attract people that may not have wagered before. The same thinking was behind the company and competitor DraftKings adding the ability to wager on the Academy Awards for the first time in February.

For the 2019 NFL draft, however, King said FanDuel was seeing the most action for potential first overall pick in former University of Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray, who was the listed favorite. Bettors would have to risk $350 to win $100 if Murray was picked first, according to FanDuel odds at press time.

“These bets aren’t massive markets for us and so a little bit of news can make a big move,” he said.

Legalizing sports gambling

Betting on actual games continues to be a more important revenue generator for the company, and as more states legalize sports gambling the pool of potential customers grows as well.

This week, state legislatures in Indiana and Iowa both passed bills that would legalize sports gambling once they secure governor approval. If both governors sign on, the two states would push the total number of states in the country allowing sports gambling to 10.

“Let’s be honest, most of the states look at this as saying this is something my constituents want and it’s going to deliver a lot of tax dollars,” King said. “Some states have done it the right way, like New Jersey, and some states have put more restrictions on and they haven’t seen the revenue.”

Some of those restrictions include banning wagers placed through mobile apps. New Jersey is one of the few states that allows for mobile wagering. But because of the various distinctions that each state may or may not be comfortable with, King said sports betting will always be a state-by-state issue and never federally legalized.

“Our general view is you’ll see a lot of states adopt it. It won’t ever be a national [law,] but each state if they do it the right way it will be far bigger than people think.”

Zack Guzman is the host of YFi PM as well as a senior writer and on-air reporter covering entrepreneurship, startups, and breaking news at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @zGuz.

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