I spend an inordinate amount of time in the company of DraftKings.
And now that I’ve typed that and spent a second thinking about it, it’s making me question some of my life choices. Seriously: After “sleeping,” “working,” and “time with family,” DraftKings is coming in a solid fourth for time spent. For me it is mostly DFS lineup creation, but it’s also playing the daily casino specials and checking odds boosts and placing a wager or two or four(teen).
DraftKings has me, my rapt attention, and, most useful for them, my money.
But apparently they want everyone’s money, no matter how much of it someone should be spending on sports betting and/or daily fantasy.
How else to explain the partnership with Boost Mobile, which was announced last week?
.@boostmobile is partnering with @DraftKings to offer its customers exclusive fantasy sports contests and sports betting promotions. The partnership is the first of its kind between a wireless carrier and sportsbook. https://t.co/eCRVnKSH9r
— SportTechie (@SportTechie) May 27, 2021
Not needed, not at all
Here’s the thing: DraftKings doesn’t need Boost Mobile, and Boost Mobile doesn’t need DraftKings. They can’t hurt each other, but neither needs each other. It’s not like someone is going to choose Boost Mobile in order to get a DraftKings bonus (more on that later) and it’s not like someone is going to choose DraftKings because they have a Boost Mobile account.
Nope. All this is is a naked attempt by DraftKings to ensnare as many people as possible into its web.
Now while that sounds nefarious (and it is, kinda) it’s not all-the-way nefarious. After all, I’m happily entangled in the DraftKings web. I love DraftKings, and I’m not hyperbolizing the word “love” here. DraftKings provides me with a ton of joy.
But the company certainly doesn’t need, and shouldn’t try, to grab people who otherwise probably wouldn’t be betting online in the first place.
Consider: In states where DFS and/or sports betting is legal, it’s not like DraftKings is the pimply 9th grade boy at the homecoming dance standing in the corner with his equally pimply friends; no, in those states (and in this metaphor) DraftKings is the captain of the football team, dating a cheerleader, hosting the after-party, and is not shy about telling the whole school about all of it. (DraftKings advertises a ton, OK? That’s the metaphor.)
Point being, it’s not like there are would-be sports bettors out there in legalized states saying to themselves, “Gee, I’d like to bet, but there’s nowhere to do so.” If you’re alive and have listened to the radio or watched TV or been online in a state where sports betting is legal, you know about DraftKings. In fact, in states where betting is legal, more than four in 10 adults are aware of the company, according to a CivicScience study from October. To give you some idea of how ridiculously high that is, about 6 in 10 Americans are familiar with the concept of “smart speakers,” according to CivicScience. So yes. People are aware of DraftKings Sportsbook and its DFS offerings.
And if you’re interested in the slightest in sports betting in a legalized state? Well, come on. Of course you’re aware of DraftKings.
So why make this deal with Boost? There is no other reason than an attempt to grab people who weren’t already interested in sports betting, and that is bad, bad, bad.
This isn’t like Tide teaming up with Boost in an effort to sell laundry detergent, or McDonald’s teaming up with Boost to juice hamburger sales. This is DraftKings teaming up with Boost in an effort to get people to gamble. Buy too much detergent, you have too much detergent. Eat too many hamburgers, you might gain some weight. Gamble too much? You can ruin your life. And it’s not like this deal is going to get the “sharp” set, or even the “not sharp” set. Those people are already signed up. This is clearly going for the “I definitely don’t know anything about sports betting or casino gambling but it sure sounds like fun!” set.
Hook, line, and sinker
And if you think this is just a “partnership,” well … it’s more. It’s a hook, line, and sinker situation.
Hook … For starters, there are the now-traditional bonuses for signing up. And in the case of Boost, users will get a $50 DraftKings bonus once they bet $5. Which, not for nuthin’, is easily one of the worst DraftKings promos out there.
Line … But get this: Once you have your Boost and DraftKings accounts set up, you can walk into a Boost store with cash in your pocket and use that money to seed your DraftKings account. Now listen: There’s nothing wrong with using cash to seed a gambling account, but if your method of depositing money into a sports betting account involves cash and trips to your prepaid cellular provider, well, I’m guessing you probably shouldn’t be trotting out six-team parlays. Again: This ain’t detergent or hamburgers; this is gambling. Where you can put down $5,000 on a hand of blackjack, and then do it again (literally) a split second later.
Sinker … And while it’s not set up like this yet, Boost phones will soon come with the DraftKings Sportsbook app pre-loaded. Furthermore … well, I’ll just let the quote do the talking here.
“[Betting integration] is going to texting as well,” Boost EVP Stephen Stokols said, according to a SportTechie article. “You won’t even have to open an app but you can get text messages that you reply to. Is LeBron James going to hit the next free throw? Reply ‘Y’ to bet a buck.”
I mean, come on. Getting text messages on my burner phone begging me to place a bet with a single-character answer is not what I envision when I think of “responsible gaming and patron protection,” DraftKings.
Thrilled to share that I'll be joining the @DraftKings RG team in mid-May as Sr Manager of Responsible Gaming. With rapid expansion comes rapid need for harm prevention & reduction. I'm so excited to help educate, build safer places & keep sharing the message of public health!
— Julie Hynes (@julhynes) April 29, 2021
Here’s the thing: Partnerships like this are not only unnecessary, but they are potentially dangerous (yes, I’m Karen-ing here, but I’m also not wrong). They’re also bound to get the attention of politicians, regulators, and people who can do a lot more damage to the industry than me mouthing off.
Let’s metaphor it again: It’s one thing to be a watch salesman trying to sell your watches to watch fans who are at least semi-familiar with watches. It’s even OK to try and sell your watches via traditional advertising channels to people who might be interested in watches if given the chance.
But it’s a whole ‘nuther thing to stand on a street corner in a weighted-down trench coat whispering to passers-by, “Hey, you wanna buy a Rolex?”