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DraftKings Expands Sportsbook Access To 13 Potential States With Caesars’ Deal

Marc Meltzer February 25, 2019
DraftKings Caesars

Caesars Entertainment and DraftKings announced a multi-state partnership on Monday that will allow the DraftKings Sportsbook access to states where Caesars Entertainment already has existing land-based casinos.

In return, Caesars Entertainment will receive an ownership stake in DraftKings and access to its customer database.

DraftKings has access to operate in 12 states

DraftKings will now have the ability to offer online gaming products like sports betting and casino games in states that have legalized those games and products. The company currently operates an online sportsbook and casino in just one state — New Jersey — while also running a retail sportsbook in Mississippi. Meanwhile, Caesars Entertainment operates casinos in the following 13 states across the U.S. Unfortunately for DraftKings, they’ll only have accee to 12 states.

DraftKings already operates in New Jersey with Resorts Casino. The deal with Caesars is very new, so there’s no word if it will change affiliation in the Garden State.

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New states for DraftKings

DraftKings will have to apply for an online gaming license in states that Caesars operates and where sports betting and online gaming are legal. Caesars operates a casino in Chester, PA, which would have given DraftKings access to the 12 million residents in the Keystone State. Unfortunately, this deal doesn’t include access to Pennsylvania. That’s most likely because casinos may only be allowed a single skin when mobile betting becomes legal in PA.

DraftKings has a sordid past with Nevada. They’re part of the reason that Nevada residents can’t play traditional daily fantasy sports (DFS) contests. The Nevada Gaming Control Board requires DFS operators to have a gaming license.

The future in Nevada for DraftKings is currently unclear since the state doesn’t allow new customers to sign up for sports wagering accounts unless they do so in person at a casino sportsbook.

Iowa and Illinois are currently discussing plans to legalize sports betting. Depending on the legislation, those could be the next states to see DraftKings’ online sportsbook and casino games.

The Caesars side of the deal

While DraftKings will gain access to new markets, there’s another side to this deal. Caesars Entertainment now has an equity stake in DraftKings. Caesars Entertainment will earn a piece of DraftKings’ gaming revenue in states where the partnership is active.

Additionally, DraftKings will promote Caesars Entertainment as its official casino resort partner in the states where the companies work together. This will provide marketing opportunities for Caesars Entertainment to potential new customers that might not be in the existing Caesars Rewards database of more than 50 million people.

Caesars Entertainment will continue to offer their own branded sports betting and online casino apps in each of the states where they have casinos. This will continue to maintain their primary access in each state.

On an earnings call last week, Caesars Entertainment’s CEO Mark Frissora said they are upgrading their New Jersey retain sportsbooks. They will be taking The Book concept that debuted at The Linq in Las Vegas to New Jersey later this year.

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DraftKings Sportsbook Giving Away More Than $50,000 In Free Super Bowl Squares Contest

Juan Carlos Blanco January 30, 2019
DraftKings Super Bowl squares

DraftKings Sportsbook is launching a Super Bowl squares contest? You bet. And you can play and win in any state, not just in New Jersey.

Over time, Super Bowl “squares” contests have become as much a workplace staple as office gossip and politics.

The game is simple in concept and adds a little extra intrigue to the sports calendar’s proverbial national holiday. Typically, an 8.5 x 11 sheet with multiple rows and columns form boxes that have numbers within them. There are a number of variations of the game that have been developed over time.

However, the usual trigger for a cash is the second digit of the score of each team at the end of each quarter matching those belonging to a square one owns.

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DraftKings Super Bowl Promo: Squares

For the upcoming 53rd edition of The Big Game, DraftKings Sportsbook is putting its own unique spin on the tried-and-true favorite of Super Bowl betting. The company’s aptly named Squares is free to play and feature a prize pool in excess of $50,000. There will be more cash added by DraftKings for every 100,000 entries in the contest.

And you don’t even have to be in New Jersey to play, according to DK, but it exists only on the Sportsbook app, not in the daily fantasy sports product.

Conventional versions of squares contests typically allow participants to gobble up multiple spots on the sheet. This ups an individual’s odds and increases the overall prize pool, potentially creating a demand for additional “sheets” in the process.

However, the trade-off to DK’s non-existent entry fee is that participants only get access to one square, which remains attached to that player for all quarters, including any overtime period (s).

The nuts and bolts of the contest are as follows:

  • Before the Super Bowl kicks off, a player selects a square on a blank digital “board” that emulates that of a traditional money-based squares contest.
  • Once the game begins, the numbers assigned to each square will be revealed.
  • If the final digit of both team’s score at the end of each quarter matches the numbers on the participant’s square, that participant wins a cash prize.
  • Each square on the board naturally can and will be selected by multiple users. Each user that selected a winning square will be awarded a matching, corresponding cash prize.

Another square product for the Super Bowl

The DraftKings Squares contest evokes some memories of a similar free-to-play game rolled out by primary competitor FanDuel for Super Bowl LII.

FD’s Big Game Bingo also had Super Bowl viewers paying rapt attention during the game to see if they’d score cash or prizes. However, that game was centered on props, both football and non-football related. It also featured other prizes besides direct cash payouts — gift cards for use at contest sponsor Game Stop and an XBox One Madden NFL 18 bundle were two such examples.

In contrast, DK ‘s contest focuses solely on football-based outcomes and cash. And as was the case with Big Game Bingo, there is no paid-entry version available for DraftKings Super Bowl Squares.

If I Ran The SBNC: 5 Things I Would Implement For The Next DraftKings Sports Betting National Championship

Avatar January 15, 2019

As I write this, I am on a plane, one day removed from being bounced from the inaugural DraftKings Sports Betting National Championship (SBNC).

My partner (the incredibly talented Gill Alexander) and I ponied up the $10,000 entry fee for our shot at winning the $1 million top prize. We fell short of our goal, but had a blast and learned a lot.

I’ve always been extremely competitive. Sports. Poker. DFS. Sports betting. Scattergories. Whatever.

The SBNC takes sports betting — which is usually always you versus the book — to a peer-to-peer battle that really makes things fun.

Before this starts to look like I’m getting on my high horse, I’d like to say that the event was incredibly well run. The makeshift sportsbook was awesome. The DraftKings Sportsbook app worked nearly flawlessly.

The food was hot; the booze was plentiful; good times were had by all. This article is not an attempt to bash the event, but just some thoughts on how we could really crank up Version 2 of this interesting concept.

The timing of the event

The first thing I would do is change when the event occurs on the sports calendar.

Without question, the SBNC needs to happen earlier in the football season, when we have a full day of college football on Saturday and a full day of NFL football on Sunday.

The atmosphere in the room was undoubtedly fun, but if we had several football results hitting all day long, the walls would have been rocking in that place.

Further, I think with several more football games on the betting slate; the event would attract a lot more entries. A group of buddies that share a love of football may split up the entry fee for a shot at a million.

But with only three football games (you could only bet before the kickoff of the fourth game), I think it detracts from the appeal to the masses.

Betting cutoff

Even if we change the timing to allow for more football games, I would definitely push back the cutoff for bets.

The easy fix here is to push the cutoff back to the third-quarter kickoff of the afternoon games — at the latest. Then you could place bets pregame, in-game, second half, props and whatever you want up until the second half of a game kicks off.

There would need to be a formal announcement, e.g., an email, a tweet, a push notification, an IG post, a Facebook post — you get the point, as to which game happens to be on the slate.

When the final third quarter on the slate begins, there’d be no more bets. This window gives time for all the morning games to pay out and allows people to get that money back into action — even if it has to be making in-game bets to any afternoon games that had already kicked off.

ALSO READ: $2.5 Million DraftKings Sports Betting Championship Ends With Controversy

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Bet grading

I would make sure we had uniform bet grading across the board.

In no way would any player get paid out earlier or later than another player on the same form of a bet. So, player props would pay out uniformly. Game props would pay out at the same point for everyone.

There has to be a plan in place for bet grading that definitively ensures that no entrant in the contest has any competitive advantage by having a similar bet scored before another player’s bet.

Payout structure

I am and have always been, a huge fan of flatter payout structures.

I’ve always felt that if more people can leave with a positive (in this instance, financially) experience, it’s better for the product. I completely understand that slapping a $1 million top prize on the first event was needed for PR and to get everyone’s attention.

As we move into the second version of the SBNC, do we really think people would balk at a $500k or $600k top prize? It’s still a massive amount, and it allows for a deeper payout than the 25 entrants that made money in this contest.

Pumping $400k back into the prize pool would allow you to pay at least 15-20 more spots while dropping some extra cash into the 25 spots you were already paying.

ALSO READ: The DraftKings $2.5M Sports Betting Championship Controversy: Where It Goes From Here

Double it up

The final thing I would do for the next SBNC: Pair it up on the same weekend with one of the big DFS events.

I already mentioned the benefit of increasing entries. You’re getting a couple hundred (there would be some overlap) fantasy players into town with the DFS event, and naturally, you’re going to get some of those guys to fire into the SBNC.

Then — from an atmosphere and experience perspective — we move from every quarter of football producing some drama to every single play holding some value for someone. The room would be electric. One big catch would equal amounts of joy and misery. Isn’t that what gambling is all about?

All in all, this type of contest is only going to get bigger. As sports betting expands into other jurisdictions, we potentially see them pop up all over the country in the coming years.

Innovation within the sports betting realm has an open invitation, and let’s be honest, it was a pretty amazing sweat. With a few small adjustments, this event could be a solid product that grows into something that will be on every level of sports bettor’s bucket list.

For more on the inaugural Sports Betting National Championship, including an interview with the $1 million winner, check out the SBNC live blog here at TheLines.com.

The DraftKings $2.5M Sports Betting Championship Controversy: Where It Goes From Here

Chops January 14, 2019
DraftKings Sportsbook controversy

Things were going so well for DraftKings’ first-ever $2.5 million Sports Betting National Championship.

It was exciting. It brought fun and competition to sports betting.

Unfortunately, DraftKings couldn’t stick the landing.

Controversy ensued.

Now what?

So what happened at DraftKings was…

Held in New Jersey from Friday through Sunday, the DraftKings Sportsbook event had participants vying for $2.5M in total prizes. Whoever ran their starting bankroll up the highest by the final eligible game (Eagles vs. Saints) would take home $1 million for first.

Read The Lines live blogging of the event here.

Everything was going without a hitch until the very end.

Thanks to some garbage-time scoring, the Chargers vs. Patriots game ran late, ending a few minutes before the start of Eagles vs. Saints.

Bettors who had all or a significant chunk of their bankroll in Chargers vs. Patriots needed those wagers to be settled / graded out in order to get in on the Eagles vs. Saints game.

Some bettors were settled in time.

Buuuuut some weren’t.

And therein lies the rub.

Had Chargers vs. Patriots just gone on a few minutes longer, or had all bets on that game not been settled in time for Eagles vs. Saints, no problem. That’s not what happened.

One particularly high-profile competitor, former ESPN writer Rufus Peabody, was potentially impacted the most. Peabody, who was in first place, had his entire bankroll (save .01) tied up at the start of Eagles vs. Saints.

He ended up finishing third for $250,000.

Others surely were impacted to lesser degrees.

For more details, read Legal Sports Report here.

DraftKings handled this well, right?

Weeeeellll…

DraftKings did quickly put out a statement regarding the controversy:

“The first ever Sports Betting National Championship was an incredibly thrilling event. We recognize that in the rules the scheduled end of betting coincided very closely to the finish of the of Patriots-Chargers game.

While we must follow our contest rules, we sincerely apologize for the experience several customers had where their bets were not graded in time to allow wagering on the Saints-Eagles game. We will learn from this experience and improve upon the rules and experience for future events.”

This is a perfectly fine first-step response. It’s factually accurate. Leading with “incredibly thrilling event” is a little tacky considering how payout timing impacted some participants and the general “come on, DraftKings” public perception building over this miscue. And the reality is they likely have a team of lawyers massaging every word of what the next statement will be. Understandable.

The contest itself was obviously flubbed at the end, and the first response was adequate though not great. DraftKings could have been more emphatic in their remorse and forceful in fixing the situation, but the reality is they quickly had to shift celebratory shilling to disaster mode.

This all sets up an interesting few weeks ahead.

What should DraftKings do now?

This is a difficult situation. First, let’s be clear: the overall concept of the contest was great. It’s a creative and fun way to generate excitement for sports betting, content and publicity for DraftKings, and could have been used as a template in other states.

When you hold events with gaming authority oversight, the very first things you must ask yourself is: “OK, what could go wrong here? And if something do goes wrong, what’s the fix?”

DraftKings might have asked themselves those questions, but they certainly didn’t have any implementable answers.

They’re stuck in impossible situation because of it.

They simply can’t issue Rufus Peabody a “make-good” settlement as that opens up a huge can-of-worms. First, you must trust that Rufus, or anyone else, is telling the truth over whatever wager was going to be placed. It’s possible not entering wagers in the final game was the best thing that could have happened to Rufus or others.

Here’s one suggested route for DraftKings to follow:

  • Apologize profusely. Their initial statement, while all true and accurate, lacked a level of contrition for those negatively impacted or understanding of how this situation could snowball.
  • Fix the contest rules. This is a given and was already hit upon by DraftKings, but if DraftKings is ever going to be allowed to hold such an event in New Jersey (or elsewhere) again, they must have contest rules that consider all worst-case scenarios and “emergency, break-glass” solutions. There’s a reason why people are playing BetStars and not BetTilt in New Jersey today. It’s because PokerStars had (among other things) an emergency plan it case things hit the fan. Hard lesson learned. DraftKings will hopefully issue their “how we’ll keep this from happening again” in short order.
  • Be proactive with NJ Department of Gaming Enforcement. While maybe not this flippantly, DraftKings needs to have their Otter moment with New Jersey gaming. Reasonable people understand we’re all traveling into new frontiers with sports betting in America. In a situation like this, how you handle it usually determines the eventual outcome. Fess up, be proactive, offer solutions, collaborate, move on.
  • Wait on NJ for answers. Unfortunately for those impacted, this is the safest route for DraftKings to take. You fall on the sword of New Jersey Gaming. Yes, still be proactive regulators, but ultimately let them dictate the solution. They’re the boss. As long as they’re working with regulators, DraftKings will likely have a say in the final outcome anyway. This is the safest and smartest path to follow.

While a mess, everything preceding the settlement issue was a positive showcase for sports betting. Hopefully, DraftKings gets the next steps right and is afforded a second chance.

LIVE BLOG: Randy “rleejr86” Lee Wins DraftKings Sports Betting National Championship

Staff January 13, 2019

More than 250 participants competed for a $1 million top prize in the first-ever DraftKings Sports Betting National Championship in Jersey City, New Jersey. TheLines was in the Garden State providing coverage all weekend with leaderboard updates, interviews with players and staff, videos and photos from the event, and more.

All of the action can be found below, including a postgame interview with eventual champion Randy “rleejr86” Lee, who sealed the title with an Eagles +8.5 cover against the Saints. Lee is an Eagles fan and longtime sports bettor from New Jersey.

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LIVE UPDATES

8:00 p.m. ET: We have a winner! We spoke with the 2019 DraftKings Sports Betting National Champion Randy “rleejr86” Lee about his path to victory in this unique event.

Meanwhile, the controversy we reported earlier with the graded bets in between games the was addressed by DraftKings in a statement sent first to TheLines Sunday evening. For a full recap of what took place, read the story at LegalSportsReport.

5:30 p.m. ET: Leaderboard update and the biggest bets of the day can be found below. All bets are closed for the championship event so the sweat is on for those at the top.

PlayerGameWagerBet AmountTo WinWon/Loss?
rleejr86Philadelphia at New OrleansPHI +8.5$47,500
$90,725Won
Opti5624LA Chargers at New EnglandNE -3.5$42,875$81,891Won
bewitPhiladelphia at New OrleansNO ML (-357)$42,510$54,413Won
nomoreiloveyousPhiladelphia at New OrleansPHI +8.5$35,000$66,850Won
moneylinemikeyPhiladelphia at New OrleansPHI ML (+275)$33,634
$126,127Lost

4:55 p.m. ET: Updating our most recent video, it appears that DraftKings was unable to grade most of the winning tickets from the New England/LA Chargers game in time for bettors to re-invest those winnings into the late game. However, some bets may have been graded before others. All contest bets were locked at the start of the Eagles/Saints game. One of the most affected by this the most is the new leader Opti5634, who had all of his bankroll tied up in the Patriots game. He is now “stuck” at $81,891, as he explained in a series of tweets.

As of now, the contest has moved forward without any comment from organizers. We will keep you updated as soon as we hear anything.

4:45 p.m. ET: Craziness before the kickoff of the Eagles/Saints game. Brett, Matt and Matt break it down.

3:15 p.m ET: Dan “nomoreiloveyous” Steinberg passed “gucho” for the pole position at halftime when gucho’s two Chargers first half bets went up in flames. Steinberg hit a Sony Michel rushing prop for more than $5,000 to build the roll up to $56,356.

Others in the Top 10 struggling with open Chargers wagers:

  • Deliveryboy — $32,000 parlay with the Chargers/Pats under.
  • Imawhale — All in for $29,000 on Chargers +4 and Chargers -3 ALT SPREAD

2:00 p.m. ET: “Gucho” led at this time yesterday and has regained the lead after hitting the Chargers/Patriots 1H OVER 23.5. He still has more than $31,000 invested in bets on this game ($14,352.62 on 1H tie, $16,919.75 on LAC 1H +2.5)

1:45 p.m. ET: Coming at you live from the floor with the Pats and Chargers playing behind us. Brett Collson and Matt Perrault break down the big bets and strategies of the participants at the top of the leaderboard and what the others still alive need to do make up ground.

1:05 p.m. ET: Bets are in (and still coming in) for the first NFL game today. We will have an update in 30 minutes with some of the biggest bets on this game and plays from the leaders as they chase the seven-figure score up top.

Sunday 11 a.m. ET: We’re back at the DraftKings Sports Betting National Championship! Follow this page all day for leaderboard updates, interviews, videos and more from Jersey City.

Day3

Five things to know before the DraftKings Sports Betting National Championship finale

  1. Remaining participants can ONLY bet on the two NFL games on Sunday. No soccer (sorry, “gucho”), no NBA, no NHL. Only wagers on the Pats/Chargers and Saints/Eagles will be accepted for the contest.
  2. Players must wager AT LEAST $2,000 on the Sunday NFL games to qualify for the $2.5 million SBNC prize pool. All qualifying entrants needed to bet at least $1,000 on Friday/Saturday as well.
  3. Accounts will be locked and bets will be closed once the Eagles/Saints kicks off this afternoon. Then the sweat is on for the field. All open wagers can be viewed on the DraftKings SBNC leaderboard page.
  4. Eighty-one of the 260 players in this contest have gone completely broke. Nineteen players have between a penny and a dollar. Of the 179 players still technically “alive” in the event, only 128 currently have the $2,000 bankroll required to meet the prize pool qualifier. But the others could run it up in the first game and meet the minimum bet requirement.
  5. More than $3.1 million has been wagered across 260 entries in this contest as of Sunday morning. The biggest bets are yet to come as all 179 left with money are still eligible for the $1 million top prize being handed out today.

1:30 a.m. ET: A look at the leaderboard as Day 2 comes to a close. Only 162 of the original 260 participants still have more than $1 left in their bankroll. Player “rleejr86” leads the field after betting all of his $27,000 on the LA Rams -7 to climb past “gucha” who led most of Saturday despite only placing three bets across the entire contest.

“Nomoreiloveyous” is in second place, while “Opti5624” and “deliveryboy” made huge leads up the leaderboard late Saturday with improbable parlays, both of which paid out more than $36,000.

Keep your browser locked to TheLines.com as we provide complete coverage of the DraftKings Sports Betting National Championship until a champion is crowned on Sunday evening!

11:30 p.m. ET: The Rams-Cowboys game is over and we’re seeing some new names appear in the thick of things leading into Day 3. A player with the screenname “Opti5624” hit a $437 parlay for $35,624 thanks to a big round from Charles Howell at the Sony Open in Hawaii. We will be providing a full round-up video later this evening.

9:30 p.m. ET: BIG parlay bet came in from Sean “psufans2” Newsham who put down $15,000 on the Rams -7 and Edmonton Oilers ML to win $46,500. A win here would likely leave him as the man to catch heading into Day 3.

psufans

8:30 p.m. ET: An evening update from Brett Collson and Matt Perrault from the floor of the SBNC. While they were recording the show, the player in fourth place, “rleejr86”, fired his entire bankroll on the LA Rams -7 to jump into first place. If he loses, he joins the other 45-plus players already eliminated from the event.

7:30 p.m. ET: Poker pro Phil Hellmuth, a 15-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner, joined us to talk about his progress in the Sports Betting National Championship and how he got involved with DraftKings to participate.

6:35 p.m. ET: Leaderboard update! Thirty players have been eliminated from the competition, leaving 230 still vying for the title. User “rleejr86” climbed into third place after hitting a $1,000 parlay for $27,500, capped off by the Pepperdine Waves covering against the San Diego Toreros.

6:10 p.m. ET: While we wait for the second half and bettors get in their 2H bets, here’s a look at the biggest longshot winners (biggest return on a single wager) in the contest so far:

  1. Parlayed Ohio (+380), Oklahoma State (+215), and Kansas State (+360). Wagered $5 to win $347.75
  2. Parlayed Over 222.5 Points in Nets @ Raptors, Blazers -6.5, Over 218.5 Points in Pacers @ Knicks, Warriors -15.5, Over 223 in Mavs @ Timberwolves, and Rockets -14. Wagered $100 to win $4,804.00
  3. Warriors -14, Jazz -12, Blazers -7, Penguins -2. Wagered $500 to win $17,080

5:55 p.m. ET: We spoke with Sean “psufans2” Newsham, currently in fourth place in the contest, about his big $10K bet on the Chiefs -4.

“I liked Kansas City all week pretty much,” says Newsome, who bought into this event for $10,000. “So my plan was to try to run it up before this game and then unload on this game. I didn’t put down as much as I wanted to but it’s enough to get me to like $25,000 after this game if things go right.”

Newsham doesn’t have a plan in place if he does hit this Chiefs bet. He says he’s more inclined to fire on the NFL where the contest betting limits are higher, but he may decide instead to sit on a top five figure going into the final day.

“It depends what other people are what (bankroll wise), but I know the leader is sitting on his lead til the end of the day. He’s not moving. So if people don’t jump up and $25,000 is in the top five to 10, I might sit on it a little more than I would have otherwise.”

That said, he’s not watching the leaderboard too closely.

“I’m watching the top of the leaderboard. I just want to be in striking distance tomorrow. You can unload $25,000 into $50,000, $50,000 into $100,000 rather easily tomorrow if that’s what you want to do.”

4:55 p.m. ET: Afternoon update from the venue.

4:35 p.m. ET: Five biggest bets on the Colts vs. Chiefs game:

  • psufans2 (4th place) — $10,000 on KC -4
  • gebo19 (64th place) — $5,000 on IND ML
  • mdurand10 (64th place) — $5,000 on IND ML
  • Aganjian (64th place) — $5,000 on OVER (54.5)
  • eordower (64th place) — $5,000 on OVER (54.5)

3:30 p.m. ET: Sweattttttt. The first NFL game hasn’t even started yet and it’s getting loud in here as participants follow the college basketball and NHL games on the big screens.

3:00 p.m. ET: We arrived at the event venue to see that ‘gucho’ is the new leader of the event after hitting two big soccer bets this morning. Gucho turned $5,000 into $44,482 with only three bets in the first 24 hours of the contest: Washington Wizards for $5,000 on Friday night, Leicester City – Southampton (both teams to score) for $8,900 on Saturday morning, and then Chelsea -Newcastle (Both teams to score) for $17,444.

Overnight leader “johnstorz” is still hovering above $30,000 in second place, while “nomoreiloveyou” climbed into third place.

leaderboard

DraftKings Sports Betting National Championship: 242 Partake On Day 1; 10 Go Broke

Brett Collson January 12, 2019
DK Sports Betting Championship

For one weekend, Jersey City might be considered the hub of the sports betting in the U.S. The inaugural DraftKings Sports Betting National Championship (SBNC) kicked off Friday in the Garden State, drawing hundreds of sports bettors to a first-of-its-kind contest that boasts a $1 million top prize.

Bettors flew in from all over the country to put down the $10,000 entry fee for the event. A total of 242 entries were listed on the DraftKings leaderboard Saturday morning.

Still, participation is well behind pace to hit the $2.5 million guaranteed prize pool. Registration is open until 4:35 p.m. ET on Saturday. Johnny Avello, director of sportsbook operations at DraftKings, told TheLines this week that the company was prepared for the possibility of overlay and was “OK” with that.

Betting action resumes Saturday and continues through Sunday with the conclusion of the Philadelphia Eagles vs. New Orleans Saints game, at which point the first DraftKings SBNC winner will be crowned.

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Day 1 leaderboard

A player under the DraftKings username “johnstorz” led the way after Day 1, turning his original $5,000 bankroll into $30,877.75 on Friday. Johnstorz hit a four-team NBA/NHL parlay for more than $17,000 to take a sizeable lead into Day 2 of the contest. He also nailed a three-team NBA parlay for $7,300.

Meanwhile, 10 players finished the opening day with nothing left in their bankroll. Among those going broke was Alex “Awesemo” Baker, who put his entire $5,000 bankroll on the under in the Atlanta Hawks vs. Philadelphia 76ers game. Baker told TheLines this week: “I think you have to take a very high-variance approach with nearly half the money going to first.” He wasn’t fibbing.

Below is the top 10 on the leaderboard after Day 1. Up-to-the-minute updates can be found here.

DK Leaderboard

Day 2 look-ahead

With Sunday betting for this event limited to only the two NFL playoff games, this expanded Saturday menu of sports and games could be the decider in crowning the first champion of this event. Here’s what bettors will find on the DraftKings Sportsbook app:

Soccer: Seven English Premier League (EPL) games plus four La Liga matches create a juicy soccer slate for bettors. How many contestants were up at the crack of dawn Saturday betting on the West Ham vs Arsenal game? We’ll have updates on that during the Day 2 Live Blog on Saturday.

NFL: Two divisional round games expect to capture the most attention from entrants in the Sports Betting National Championship. No shortage of props and in-game options for these games. The football action kicks off at 4:35 p.m. ET with the Kansas City Chiefs hosting the Indianapolis Colts. The Rams and Cowboys will follow in Los Angeles at 8:15 p.m. ET.

NBA: Eight NBA games also figure to be popular with bettors. The pro hardwood action starts at 3:30 p.m. ET with the Pistons and Clippers. Bulls/Jazz and Hornets/Kings close out the Saturday schedule at 10 p.m. ET.

NHL: The 12-game NHL schedule starts at 1 p.m. ET with a pair of east coast games in New York and New Jersey. Puckheads have plenty of options to fire on Saturday.

College basketball: Here’s where the sharps could separate themselves. More than 140 Division 1 games are scheduled for Saturday. While not all of them will be on the betting board, regular college hoops bettors could find an edge here. The first games tip off at noon ET.

Golf: The third round of the Sony Open in Hawaii tees off in the afternoon. A wide selection of player props and matchups are available as well as live winner odds.

How the DraftKings Sports Betting National Championship works

  • All participants must be located in New Jersey when placing bets for the contest.
  • The buy-in for the event is $10,000 (more than 80 qualified on DraftKings leading up to the event). Each participant begins with a DK-funded $5,000 bankroll. The remaining portion of the buy-in goes toward the prize pool (minus a $300 contest fee).
  • Bets can be placed on any sport on the DraftKings app Friday or Saturday. However, on Sunday only the two NFL divisional playoff games are available for the championship event. Betting closes upon the kickoff of the second NFL divisional playoff game on Sunday.
  • Players must wager at least $1,000 on Friday and Saturday, and at least $2,000 on Sunday.
  • All types of bets are in play, including straight bets, parlays, teasers, and props.
  • Those requirements must be met in order for participants to retain a spot on the official leaderboard and qualify for the $1,000,000 grand prize, or for the subsequent payouts for lower finishes.
  • The player with the biggest bankroll at the end of the weekend is determined the grand prize winner. Subsequent spots on the leaderboard will also be determined by bankroll size.
  • The prize pool will be at least $2.5 million, with each direct buy-in above 531 entries increasing the prize pool by $4,700 apiece.
  • Only one entry is allowed per person.
  • All players take home the sum total of their bankroll at the end of the weekend. Those who have kept their leaderboard eligibility are also awarded any money they’ve earned through that channel.

Follow TheLines for updates

Our team will be on site Saturday and Sunday to cover the remainder of the DraftKings Sports Betting Championship. Follow the live blog here at TheLines for leaderboard updates, player interviews, photos and videos from the event, and more. And be sure to follow TheLines on Twitter for frequent updates all weekend.

Will Potential Overlay Entice Bettors To Enter DraftKings’ Sports Betting National Championship?

Juan Carlos Blanco January 8, 2019
DraftKings Sports Betting

DraftKings entered the sports betting realm back on Aug. 1 and hasn’t looked back.

The daily fantasy sports (DFS) industry leader —that early on made its intentions of exerting similar dominance in due time over the betting space — is currently operating its DraftKings Sportsbook online in New Jersey.

In early October, DraftKings announced the first-of-its-kind Sports Betting National Championship. The event unfolds this week in the Garden State over the NFL’s divisional playoff weekend.

The championship offers a $1 million grand prize, and DraftKings is guaranteeing a $2.5 million prize pool.

Significant overlay with days to go

The company has gotten plenty of well-deserved positive press for the event, which seemingly seeks to replicate some of the same electricity that DraftKings has been able to generate with its DFS live finals over the past several years.

But as much early momentum as the Sports Betting National Championship enjoyed, DraftKings’ Senior Product Manager Jon Aguiar chimed in with the following on Twitter late last week:

DraftKings updated that number to 140 entries on Monday following a busy weekend of online qualifiers during the NFL playoffs. That still leaves them well short of the total to meet the $2.5 million guarantee.

For those who are already well-versed in the DFS space, the word “overlay” is typically brings glee. To put it succinctly, overlay, depending on how large, is one heck of an odds booster for the player and a proverbial bath for the operator.

When the guaranteed contests fail to fill, the portion of the prize pool those absent entries would have subsidized then ends up on the company’s tab.

Given Aguiar’s announcement, that bath is looking more like a deluge. With a Jan. 11 kick-off date, there is still plenty of time for some of those empty seats to be filled.

The event has a $10,000 direct buy-in. Therefore, it’s not just exclusive to those that punched their tickets through qualifiers during NFL season or the first quarter-plus of the NBA campaign.

Given the well-timed announcement, it’s the last-minute sales pitch that likely will bring some high rollers to the table. After all, the edge is undeniably magnetizing for those who can afford the buy-in fee and have a degree of confidence in their sports betting acumen.

Unique format sets up an intriguing challenge

The Sports Betting National Championship sports a unique format that promises to test several important sports betting skills in its participants, including multisport knowledge, bankroll management and prudent line selection.

Some of the nuts and bolts of the event are as follows:

  • Each participant begins the contest Friday with a DraftKings-funded $5,000 bankroll.
  • Players must wager at least $1,000 on Friday and Saturday, and at least $2,000 on Sunday.
  • Wagers can be placed on any sports on Friday or Saturday. However, all wagers placed Sunday must exclusively involve the two NFL divisional playoff games unfolding that day.
  • Participants must meet the requirements to retain a spot on the official leaderboard and qualify for the $1,000,000 grand prize, or for the subsequent payouts for lower finishes.
  • All types of bets are in play, including straight bets, parlays and fantasy props. However, betting closes upon the kickoff of the second NFL divisional playoff game on Sunday.
  • The player with the biggest bankroll at the end of the weekend becomes the grand prize winner. Bankroll size determines subsequent qualifying spots.
  • DraftKings is guaranteeing a prize pool of $2.5 million. Each direct buy-in above 531 entries will increase the prize pool by $4,700 apiece.
  • The contest is single entry. The event will have a maximum of 1,000 entrants.
  • All players take home the total of their bankroll at the end of the weekend. Those who have kept their leaderboard eligibility are also awarded any money they’ve earned through that channel.

TheLines will be in Jersey City providing coverage of the DraftKings Sports Betting National Championship. Follow our Twitter account for updates from the event!

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DraftKings Blazing New Trails With Sports Betting National Championship

Juan Carlos Blanco December 31, 2018
DK Championship

DraftKings got to the top of the DFS mountain by taking some chances and thinking outside the box.

One of the methods by which the industry leader gained notoriety was through its live final events. There have even been full-fledged documentaries memorializing the experience. And while DK wasn’t the first to host one, they arguably have gotten to the point where they pull it off better than anyone else.

The company took a similarly aggressive/innovative approach when entering the sports betting space. Chief Revenue Officer and Co-Founder Matt Kalish made no bones about the company’s goal to become the “best total value operator in sportsbook” as DK officially kicked off its sports betting product in early August.

Bringing a little DFS flavor to the sports betting space

The subsequent months have arguably been an unqualified success by and large for DraftKings Sportsbook, even as it’s still only available in New Jersey. Now, using a little bit of that same ingenuity that they’ve often applied on the DFS front, the company has found a way to hold a first-of-its-kind live final for sports betting that incorporates players from jurisdictions where the activity isn’t yet available.

“At DraftKings, the natural state of things is to look at everything as an opportunity for creativity and disruption,” said Kalish. “We looked at the sportsbook space and saw very little in the way of events. With our history running the biggest and best fantasy events every year, it seemed natural to find a way to bring that kind of experience to the sportsbook space.”

The first annual DraftKings Sports Betting National Championship unfolds in – where else – Jersey City, New Jersey on the weekend of January 11-13. Qualifiers are currently running in the company’s DFS lobby. However, there’s also the option of a direct $10,000 buy-in.

Some of the other logistics of the event include:

  • Each participant begins with a DK-funded $5,000 bankroll.
  • Players must wager at least $1,000 on Friday and Saturday, and at least $2K on Sunday.
  • Wagers can be placed on any sport Friday or Saturday. However, all wagers placed Sunday must exclusively involve the two NFL divisional playoff games unfolding that day.
  • Those requirements must be met in order for participants to retain a spot on the official leaderboard and qualify for the $1,000,000 grand prize, or for the subsequent payouts for lower finishes.
  • All types of bets are in play, including “straight bets, parlays, fantasy props and more” as per Kalish. However, betting closes upon the kickoff of the second NFL divisional playoff game on Sunday.
  • The player with the biggest bankroll at the end of the weekend is crowned the grand prize winner. Subsequent qualifying spots are also determined by bankroll size.
  • The prize pool will be at least $2.5 million, with each direct buy-in above 531 entries increasing the prize pool by $4,700 apiece.
  • Contest is single entry. The event will have a maximum of 1,000 entrants.
  • All players take home the sum total of their bankroll at the end of the weekend. Those who have kept their leaderboard eligibility are also awarded any money they’ve earned through that channel.

Ensuring a level playing field

The Sports Betting National Championship will naturally have quite a few firsts associated with it. One of those is an educational component not found in DK’s live DFS events.

Despite their many similarities, sports betting – and how it’s laid out in the DK Sportsbook app — is in a completely different stage of familiarity as compared to the company’s DFS product for most that will attend the event, considering:

  • Legal single-game sports betting outside of Nevada is still in its nascent stages.
  • Many qualifiers for the proceedings will be migrating over from the DFS space. While conventional wisdom would dictate most have placed a sports bet before, there will inevitably be at least a handful that are considerably inexperienced.
  • The DK Sportsbook app is only fully operational for New Jersey residents at present. It offers a wealth of potential wagering options – including a suite of in-play bets – that even some experienced players may not have extensive experience with. At minimum, many participants will be navigating the platform for the first time upon their arrival at the event.

Accordingly, the company is trying to ensure that no one is at a disadvantage from a knowledge perspective.

“In addition to the abundance of educational features already included in our easy-to-use app that help better acquaint customers with our product, we’ll be providing additional learning materials to all competitors,” remarked Kalish. “We will also have a fully staffed onsite area at the event for customers with any questions or issues that happen to arise.”

“Method to the madness” in contest rules, structure

As Kalish further explains, there’s sound reasoning behind each of the contest’s rules, even when it’s not evident on the surface. For example, the requirement that all final day bets must be exclusively on football stems from the NFL undoubtedly serving as the U.S. market’s most frequently and lucratively bet sport.

The fact that the NBA and NHL – the other two major sports in action at that point of the year – purposely keep their Sunday slates modest while pro football’s in season also played a role.

And as far as the wagering cut-off time on the contest’s final day? There’s a strategic element at play there as well.

“Closing betting at the kickoff of the last game will allow players and spectators alike to watch the last few hours of action with a clear picture of who could potentially walk away the champion,” Kalish said. “We want the final experience to easily display the necessary turn of events required to crown a winner, adding even more anticipation with each in-game moment.”

From the company perspective, that certainly makes sense. DK is naturally hoping this initial version of the Sports Betting National Championship once again positions it as a trailblazer in a new industry, with all the positives that could bring.

The company’s prior experience facilitating live, high-stakes sports-based gaming events was critical. Devising a final-day contest structure that engenders the type of electricity that’s made DK’s DFS live finals an industry standard was high on the priority list, according to Kalish. Especially for an event that DK certainly has a highly bullish long-term view on.

“Based on our experience with our DFS live finals, which we’ve been hosting since 2014, we think this will lead to a much more focused and exciting conclusion to the event.”

Lead image courtesy of DraftKings

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Controversial DFS Pro Shows Charitable Side With Million-Dollar Pledge

Juan Carlos Blanco December 18, 2018
ChipotleAddict

Throughout his extensive daily fantasy sports (DFS) career, Tom Crowley — more commonly know by username ChipotleAddict — has been a lightning rod among the player community. But recently, he displayed a benevolent side that should earn him his fair share of positive press.

Crowley had multiple entries in both the DraftKings World Championship Final and FanDuel World Fantasy Football Championship this past weekend.

On Dec. 13, Crowley made a public pledge regarding his charitable intentions concerning his potential winnings:

ChipotleAddict promptly went out and earned a sizable haul of cash in both tournaments.

Best of all for the selected charities, he finished at the top of the mountain in the DraftKings Championship. With an Atlanta Falcons-heavy lineup that netted him 174.04 DK points, Crowley scored the $2 million grand prize.

A total of 10 different charities will be beneficiaries of the potent combination of Crowley’s DFS acumen and generosity.

ChipotleAddict will work with Double Up Drive, a time-sensitive initiative currently running through Dec. 29, which matches donations and distributes them to 10 different highly vetted and impactful charities.

Notably, this marks the second consecutive year that Crowley is spreading the wealth. In 2017, he also contributed more than $700,000 to poker professional Dan Smith‘s donation drive.

Dirty Birds spearhead the biggest jackpot

The DK Championship unfolded in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and featured 180 total contestants.

Crowley had a total of six entries in the event. The second-highest-scoring lineup for him checked in at 18th place, which still paid out $65,000.

Including the aforementioned first-place prize, his DK winnings totaled just under $2.2 million.

The key to Crowley’s first-placed lineup was a Falcons team that generated one of their best all-around offensive performances of the season.

Matt Ryan (25.04 DK points), Tevin Coleman (23.5 DK points) and Julio Jones (20.2 DK points) spearheaded the charge. Those were supplemented by excellent returns from Joe Mixon (30 DK points), Davante Adams (24.9 DK points), Jaylen Samuels (22.2 DK points) and the Vikings defense (13 DK points).

Considering the numbers, ChipotleAddict’s lineup had more than enough equity to survive a zero by the final member of the Atlanta foursome, Austin Hooper.

Crowley’s FanDuel ledger was much less prolific but impressive in its own right.

ChipotleAddict held a total of four seats in the 75-seat tournament. His best finish was fifth, which resulted in a $42,000 bankroll boost.

Notably, that lineup had a very different look, with a Bengals stack consisting of Jeff Driskel (11.4 FD points), Joe Mixon (26 FD points) and Tyler Boyd (11.8 FD points) serving as its core.

Crowley garnered another $62,000 in total from his FanDuel entries.

Past collusion allegations disproven

The controversy associated with Crowley’s DFS career centered around the hottest of hot-button topics in the industry regarding contest rules and logistics: the alleged circumventing of multi-entry rules through alleged collusion with his brother, Martin Crowley’s (DFS username bigpapagates), a highly successful DFS pro himself.

Back in September 2016, Martin aka bigpapagates was a co-winner of the Week 3 Millionaire Maker contest on DK. Shortly after that, rumblings had already begun in days prior ramped up.

Namely, some in the DFS community alleged the duo covered as many bases as possible regarding lineup combinations in big-dollar tournaments by entering an identical number of lineups with a complete absence of overlap.

The situation led to an official DraftKings investigation, one that ultimately cleared both players of any wrongdoing.  A subsequent post by Rotogrinders co-founder Cal Spears on the site’s forums several months later further made a case for their exoneration.

As detailed by Spears, the two worked together as far as devising and actively utilizing a player selection model, but not to any degree beyond.

Did A Supreme Court Just Indirectly Deal Another Blow To The Pro Sports Leagues?

Juan Carlos Blanco October 31, 2018
Supreme Court Indiana

Not much has gone the way of the plaintiffs in Murphy vs. NCAA with respect to sports betting since, oh, about May 14.

On that day, the Supreme Court cleared the path for legalized single-game sports betting outside of Nevada with a decision to strike down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA).

Over the subsequent five-plus months, five states – New Jersey, West Virginia, Mississippi, Delaware, and New Mexico – have either passed sports betting legislation or leveraged existing law to begin offering single-game sports betting. Pennsylvania and Rhode Island are on deck.

None of these jurisdictions have incorporated the leagues’ requests for integrity or data usage fees into their laws. All that had active sportsbooks prior to October (New Mexico’s one sportsbook went live earlier in the month) have already begun reaping the benefits of sports betting in the form of tax revenue, to varying degree.

DFS operators’ right to royalty-free game data

Then, on Oct. 24, the Indiana Supreme Court likely set some critical precedent with an opinion in Daniels vs. FanDuel — a suit brought by three former college football players against both FanDuel and DraftKings. In considering the plaintiffs’ position, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals requested guidance from the state’s Supreme Court on the question of whether the DFS operators’ use of the players’ likeness and statistics for paid-entry contests violated the state’s “right to publicity” law. The higher court’s unanimous opinion read, in part:

In short, we answer this question narrowly and find online fantasy sports operators that condition entry to contests on payment and distribute cash prizes do not violate the Indiana right of publicity statute when those organizations use the names, pictures, and statistics of players without their consent because the use falls within the meaning of “material that has newsworthy value,” an exception under the statute.

Both Legal Sports Report’s Eric Ramsey and PlayUSA’s Bart Shirley provide thorough background on the case. But at this point, let’s hone in on this latest outcome. Does the Supreme Court’s opinion have potential ramifications beyond the current litigation, which incidentally, is yet to be officially adjudicated?

Important legal precedent set?

Apologies in advance for the cringe-worthy pun, but it’s a pretty sure bet that it will.

State lawmakers and sportsbook operators alike have railed against the pro sports league’s requests for both integrity and official data usage fees over the past several months. The validity of an argument for the latter is what appears to be potentially impacted by this opinion.

A pivotal component of the plaintiff’s argument in the case involved the use of their official game statistics within the DFS operator’s college football product without their consent, and by extension, remuneration.

With an assertion that those same figures are publicly available in all manner of print and online publications subsequent to a game’s conclusion – and therefore do not subject any particular party to a compensatory obligation – the Court seems to be largely cutting the legs off a significant portion of the pro sports leagues’ “official data” position (which also includes the separate argument that using official data is the only way to ensure integrity with respect to the wagering taking place on their games).

Granted, Daniels v. FanDuel is a case that solely centers on the use of these players’ statistics in college football daily fantasy sports contests. Yet there happens to be synergy with sports betting in multiple ways:

  • The first is the most obvious — DFS and sports betting are both real-money-based gaming activities that rely on statistics (in slightly different ways) to determine winners and payouts.
  • Additionally, DraftKings and FanDuel now operate sportsbooks that naturally didn’t exist when the case was initiated, or even when it was first dismissed in September 2017 and subsequently appealed by the players.
  • And, the argument of the plaintiffs in Daniels v FanDuel does, at its essence, mirror the crux of the pro sports leagues’ position on their proposed official data usage fees — that an operation profiting in part from the use of data generated during their sanctioned contests must give up a cut of the proceeds.

Leverage likely gained against pro sports leagues’ data demands

The legislators and industry operators that will continue to balk at the leagues’ demands will doubtlessly deploy Wednesday’s opinion to their full advantage. And, as a Supreme Court opinion – albeit a state-level one – it has the potential to carry enough weight so as to serve as a formidable obstacle.

Truth be told, even more ammunition resides a bit further back in legal annals. In reaching its decision, the Indiana Supreme Court partly relied on the findings in the significant CBC Distribution and Marketing, Inc. v. Major League Baseball Advanced Media, Inc. case in 2007.

In that litigation, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit upheld a lower court’s decision that CBC (a season-long fantasy contests provider) had a First Amendment right to utilize players’ likenesses and statistics in their product, given that the information used was already “readily available in a public domain”.

Technically, the First Amendment argument as specifically put forth by the defendants in Daniels v. FanDuel was not directly validated in the decision just rendered. However, the fact that the players’ statistics are widely available was. Just as important, the fact that this data was used for commercial purposes was confirmed as irrelevant with respect to whether there was a violation of the statute in question.

Indeed, the use of official statistics in for-profit endeavors such as newspapers and magazines naturally predates the internet and DFS contests by decades. The widespread digital presence of that same information since the early 1990s without express financial obligation has set further precedent.

The potential wide-reaching ramifications of the case are already envisioned by at least one authority on sports-related legal matters.

“While the ruling is a big win for DraftKings and FanDuel, the Indiana Supreme Court decision will likely have broader implications,” said Ryan Rodenberg, an associate professor at Florida State University. “A lawsuit about whether the First Amendment pertains to the dissemination of betting data is inevitable and this case will likely be looked to as persuasive precedent down the road.”

Clearly, this latest court decision – the first of its kind in a post-PASPA landscape – could be the most influential yet.

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