Perfect timing. With the start of the new soccer season just around the corner, daily fantasy sports (DFS) operator FanDuel has been approved and licensed by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) to start taking bets. The new operation will be headquartered in Edinburgh, Scotland and will initially concentrate on the English Premiere League, which kicks off August 13. The new one-day fantasy soccer site was launched just this past week on August 2, 2016.
The same team that constructed FanDuel’s U.S. platform was responsible for the UK product and was built from the ground up. FanDuel purposely did not directly port its U.S. platform to the UK in order to give it a completely new look. In preparation for the new product, FanDuel has partnered with sports data firm Opta. Using statistics provided by Opta, FanDuel’s new UK product will include contests that last either one weekend or one day. Players can select forwards, defenders and midfielders to comprise a team of eleven players. Choosing flexible formations, substitutions and captains will not be allowed.
Nigel Eccles, FanDuel CEO said in a statement, “This is a proud moment and marks our first step into fantasy football and the UK market—our first international offering. Until now, FanDuel’s product has been exclusive to the U.S. and Canada, we’re delighted to be able to offer contests on our home turf in the UK, where we first started the business and continue to base our engineering operations. Our company has spent the past 12 months creating a product for UK football fans, designed to resonate with them and their love of the game. Every feature considers this, from the formation of fantasy teams, to the pricing of players in £s to our unique and detailed scoring system, which realistically reflects the play of all those who are on the pitch.” Eccles also hinted that the new launch is the “first step in international expansion plans.”
DraftKings, FanDuels rival, already has a daily fantasy sports site in the UK. It was launched in February after several delays and has a more diverse product than FanDuel’s new offering. It offers contests on U.S. sports such as basketball, baseball and NASCAR. Talks of a possible merger between the two fantasy sports giants is still on-going, although little news has been released. If a merger were to happen, it’s possible that the UK sites would remain separate and apart from the U.S. operations.
Daily fantasy sports have had a rough go this year with more states disapproving rather than approving legalization and regulation. There are currently eleven states that actually block access to fantasy sports. The new launch for FanDuel is good news, but it’s not as if they’re jumping into a wide open market. There will be competition from existing sites such as Oulala, PlayOn and Mondogoal, and don’t forget, DraftKings.