DraftKings CEO Jason Robins has been through a lot. He cofounded his daily fantasy sports company in 2012, and he had to pitch scores of venture capitalists before finally scoring venture money in 2013.
In 2015, a DraftKings employee was caught making bets on football games on the rival FanDuel site, using data before it was released publicly. Then Nevada banned daily fantasy sports as illegal gambling, and other states weighed in. DraftKings had to spend a ton of money on legal bills fighting for its life. But with 41 states, DraftKings prevailed in arguing that daily fantasy sports was a game of skill and therefore wasn’t gambling.
DraftKings battled with FanDuel to become the leader in a half billion dollar market. The two companies agreed to merge in 2017, but the Federal Trade Commission didn’t like the idea and the companies called it off.
But lately, things are going better. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal law and lifted a ban that prevented states from specifically allowing sports betting. With that ruling, daily fantasy sports isn’t living under a legal cloud anymore. DraftKings opened its first Sportsbook in New Jersey last month, where it can offer legal online and mobile sports betting in the state. And Robins is considering how to enter the business for esports fantasy betting. And while the company had trouble raising money early on, it has now raised more than $600 million to date.