A few months ago, we reported on Malta’s decision to introduce a specific licence for daily fantasy sports. This meant more than just a licence for Malta—it provided international operators with an access point to the EU.
Now, we’re seeing one of the biggest impacts of that decision: DraftKings has gained a Maltese licence. Read on to find out more about how that impacts players across Europe—and in the UK.
In 2016, DraftKings began to expand its operations outside of North America with the launch of its UK site. However, in order to operate in the UK, it had to apply for a gambling licence. Whilst this meant that DraftKings were able to quickly enter the UK, it was not ideal for further expansion into the EU.
Meanwhile, in August, the Malta Gaming Authority decided to introduce a specific licence for DFS operators. This was not a gambling licence—instead, it categorised DFS as a game “determined predominantly by skill and knowledge“. In other words, in the battle of skill vs chance, the MGA came down firmly on the side of skill.
At first, this particular licence may seem quite unimportant—after all, Malta is a nation of under half a million. However, Malta is a member of the EU, so this licence matters. Effectively, it gives DFS operators the ability to operate in many EU states—including some very lucrative markets.
DraftKings Makes Its Move
Deciding that the time was right to make its expansion into Europe, DraftKings decided to apply for one of the new Maltese controlled skill games licences. In January, the request was granted, making DraftKings the first company to receive the new licence.
Thanks to EU legislation, the licence means that DraftKings are now free to operate in several new countries. In fact, DraftKings have made no secret of their pan-European intentions. The company’s CIO Jeffrey Haas confirmed to Legal Sports Report that DraftKings would expand to Germany some time in 2017 Q1.
This doesn’t mean that the company has unfettered access to the EU, however. Several markets, including France and Italy, require operators to be locally based, meaning that the Maltese licence won’t cut it. Nonetheless, the licence represents a big step forward for the company’s global ambitions.
What will DraftKings Germany look like?
International operators expanding into Europe have taken different approaches. When FanDuel launched its UK site, for example, it decided to create a completely bespoke offering for the British audience, focusing solely on football. DraftKings UK, meanwhile, was essentially the same site as the North American version. The sports were the same, the look was the same—the site even kept US dollars as its sole currency.
So far, DraftKings appears to have the same plan for its German site. Many of the operator’s existing sports—such as football, golf, and basketball—are popular in Germany, standing DraftKings in good stead to hit the ground running. It also gives German players the chance to compete head-to-head against opponents in the US, UK, and Canada. This means a bigger prize pool for all players, and greater liquidity for the platform as a whole.
While there’s no official launch date for DraftKings Germany just yet, we can’t wait to welcome a whole new nation of DFS fans to the action. Willkommen, Deutschland!