DraftKings Sportsbook History & Review
Intro & History:
DraftKings was launched in 2012 as a Daily Sports website, initially primarily focusing on baseball. The company got a huge boost when Major League Baseball became an early investor for undisclosed amount in 2013. By 2015 the company was valued at $250 million and had sponsorship deals with MLB, NHL and ESPN among others.
With the success of DraftKings – and rival FanDuel- came legal challenges. In the Fall of 2015 New York Attorney’s General Office, following the lead of other states such as Nevada, declared that Daily Fantasy Sports constituted illegal gambling. By the end of the 2015 Daily Fantasy Sports services were banned in the state of New York. However, that decision is currently being appealed, and for now DFS continues to exist in New York to the chagrin of the District Attorney’s Office who now say they have “no role” in regulating the industry.
Despite these legal challenges, DraftKings continued too rapidly grow over the next several years. They operate in some capacity in 41 of the 50 states.
Their prospects and ambitions got a major jolt in the Spring of 2018, when the Supreme Court struck down the PASPA (Professional and Amateur Sports Protection ACT) allowing states to adopt legalized sports betting as they wish.
Since the decision there has been a mad dash to acquire market share in newly legalized sports betting markets. DraftKings has been a leader in the race. They have branched out from Daily Fantasy, opening their Online Sportsbook in August 2018, for now operating solely in New Jersey. The Sportsbook boasts one of the broadest available menus of betting options. They look to be the first company in the door as states like New York and Pennsylvania litigate how and when sports betting will become fully legal in their state over the next months and years.
Below you will find my initial experience with their sportsbook, and hopefully some insight into whether it would be the right option for you when and if it becomes available in your area.
My first impression upon entering their website was that this company gets it. They struck me as very open and upfront. On their welcome screen of course they have bright and bold directions on how to begin the deposit process – and obtain their attractive bonus offer. But they also have an easy to see button labeled “View Odds”. A thoughtful option available for those of us who just want to see the Odds and the interface that they have to offer. Other online sportsbooks require an initial deposit to see any odds – which strikes me as petty business since the information of what their odds are at any given time is widely available anyway.
As for the look and feel of their website I was impressed. The white and green text strikes boldly on top of their dark backdrop. The cite is clean and easy navigable. Going from contests to live odds to different sports to different props is all every self-evident and a marked improvement over other comparable online books.
Deposits and Withdrawals
Before signing up, DraftKings will need a way to verify that you are in New Jersey or another state where DraftKings Sportsbook has become live. For PC use there is a Chrome Extension that can do this for you. For mobile devices, it can verify your location if you are using the data from your phone and not Wi-Fi.
Registration and depositing are very hassle free and straight-forward. DraftKings accepts bank transfer, debit/credit card and PayPal.
If using a credit card: Note that VISA often blocks online deposits into sportsbook accounts. Mastercard works more reliably. Draftkings refreshingly offer no fee on credit cards deposits, which can be up 6% for some offshore books such as BetDSI and Bovada.
For those that already have a DraftKings account, you can use the same log-in for the Sportsbook as you do for your DFS account. You have the option to sync these two accounts as well, allowing you to transfer money between them. This is another example of their practical and customer-friendly approach.
Withdrawals: Initial deposit will be returned to your method of payment (credit card, gift card etc.) the remaining amount (the profit) can be sent via PayPal or check.
Withdrawals through PayPal take 2-8 business days. Requests for check payment can take around 2-3 weeks for delivery.
Promotions and Special Features
There is a Free Bet Sign-Up Bonus Up to $500. That is pretty substantial welcome bonus that is competitive with any current promotion for an online sportsbook. Basically, whatever you bet on your first bet you are rewarded with a free roll of the identical amount. If your first bet is $200, you will receive a $200 free bet. If your first bet is $50, you will receive a $50 free bet.
You will have to win the free bet and roll over that money several times before it is available to withdraw. Regardless, it still has concrete value that will give you positive EV in your initial experience with the book.
Leaning on their experience with large competitions through DFS, DraftKings Sportsbook also offer pools and daily contests. A great way to test your picking ability against other like-minded competitive people.
DraftKings also appear to be at the forefront of betting options and innovation.
One of their coolest features is their “Cash Out” option. For those that don’t like to sweat the last couple innings, with DraftKings you always have the ability to hit “Cash Out”, which will pay you according to the live odds of your current wager. For example, let’s say if you bet Bills at +100, $50 to win $50. The 4th quarter rolls around and the live odds say that the Bills have a 90% to win the game. With DraftKings you can hit “Cash Out” and receive around $90 or 90% of the $100 you bet would cash if the Bills held on.
The Cash Out effectively presents a more efficient way to live-wager hedge against your bet.
Volume Over Price
For those looking for reduced juice from an online sportsbook, DraftKings Sportsbook may not be your best option. Many of the lines on DraftKings have more implicit juice than other online sportsbooks such as MatchBook and Pinnacle. However, the attractive part of opening DraftKings account is the volume of their betting menu. It feels almost never ending. Places like Heritage Sports may be able to offer you less vigorish on a typical MLB game. But on DraftKings you can bet the backup if the Phillies will win the 3rd inning. As the field of sports betting continuously becomes more sophisticated and intelligent, having the ability to get down on derivative wagers can be crucial to long term profitability. Having access to DraftKings lines and props can only help your optionality as a bettor.
In general, it seems like their odds are slightly on the squarer side. For example, NFL Week 1 the Eagles are +9 at DraftKings, whereas they are +8.5 and some sharper books. Similarly, the Lions are -2.5, while only -2 at some sharper books. Having an additional sports betting option with a clear lean is very helpful when searching for the best number for a given game, especially when you are strongly against the Public.
Extensive prop options, including season long props.
Extensive In-Game options, which can be parlayed with future games.
Easy-to-Access & Extensive Alternate Point Spreads. Perfect for coordinating your bets around key numbers in the NFL. For example if a team is laying 7.5 points. It makes a lot of sense to consider the alternate point spread at -9.5 (+120), as the vast majority of games where a team will cover 7.5, they will also cover 8 and 9. In the NFL changing a +2.5 to a -2.5 increases your EV because of how infrequently NFL games land within 3. DraftKings seamlessly offers corresponding odds at every half point. A very useful feature.
They also have more Future NFL games than most sportsbooks, giving you key access into the market’s thinking of future events.
One example: On Sunday November 3rd the Bears are +2.5 @ the Eagles, meaning they are about a 1/2 point better than the Eagles on a neutral field. We know from widely available Week 1 lines that the Bears are also considered to be about a 1/2 point better than the Green Bay Packers. So we can conclude that the market thinks the Packers and Eagles are about equivalent teams as of right now. A valuable piece of information with which we can compare to our own expectations with the market in general.
Service and Support
Because of its size DraftKings can invest in operations and customer service as much as or more than any other online sportsbook. In the Contact Us section they have the option to email them or set up live chat. After a few initial messages, I was impressed with their response time in that chat feature. They answered my questions about tax information promptly and thoroughly.
Rivalry With FanDuel
Although FanDuel was technically founded three years earlier, DraftKings at FanDuel rose in popularity and entered the public consciousness almost simultaneously. Their big year of expansion was in 2014 when both companies spent millions on advertising during the NFL and College Football seasons. To better guard against litigation and regulation, the companies attempted to merge in 2015 only for the merger to be halted by the Federal Trade Commission. That result has been good for the consumer. Since they are two of the only books to offer specialized props – they are often the best places to go when to compare odds & prices when making exotic wagers, like bets on season long yardage totals. If you have accounts with both FanDuel and DraftKings, it is not hard to always check and make sure you get the best odds between the two.
DraftKings is a well established organization with staying power. If available in your state, I would strongly consider adding them to your portfolio of sports betting options. Their regular promotions provides consistent opportunities to make positive EV wagers. Their extensive menu of betting options provides valuable insight into the marketplace. Even if your not a big bettor, seeing their hundred of players props , game props and future games can provide ample insight into any sport that you are interested in.