The Louisiana Gaming Control Board on Thursday morning approved DraftKings for a daily fantasy operator license, making it the first DFS company to get the go-ahead to operate in the state. Sources say FanDuel currently cannot get approval due to “complications” created by COVID-19 shutdowns. FanDuel is owned by Irish bookmaker Flutter Entertainment, and has executives in Europe and Australia. The company is aiming to get approval for DFS in the future.
The DraftKings approval is effective immediately. According to The Advocate, DraftKings could go live as early as Thursday, the same day the LGCB granted approval.
“As DraftKings continues our nationwide expansion, we welcome Louisiana to the DraftKings family, an area rich with culture, heritage, and diehard fanbases in both college and professional sports,” said DraftKings CFO and co-founder Matt Kalish via press release. “The Bayou will now have access to our world-leading daily fantasy sports product as we ramp up toward the kickoff of football season.”
Though no daily fantasy operators have been active in Louisiana to date, DraftKings will have a clear leg up on both DFS and sports betting competition by being able to go live first. Operators traditionally use DFS databases to convert customers to sports betting, so having time to build a DFS client base will work to the company’s advantage.
Testimony from a representative from the state police, which vetted DraftKings’ application, revealed the company expects to bring in up to $15.5 million in net revenue in its first year, which would translate into about $1.3 million in tax dollars for the state.
LGCB moving forward with sports betting regs
Louisiana voters approved daily fantasy in November 2018 and sports betting in November 2020. After lawmakers created bills around the framework for both earlier this year, the LGCB is tasked with creating regulations and approving applications. The board is currently without a chair, after Mike Noel stepped down June 9 ahead of confirmation hearings, but the vacancy shouldn’t slow the process for sports betting regulations, according to Christopher Hebert of the state attorney general’s office.
“I touched a little bit on emergency rules and there was a narrative … that sports betting is being delayed in Louisiana because of the fact we are operating without a chair on our gaming control board,” Hebert said during a panel at the National Council for Gaming Legislators convention in Chicago earlier this week.
“I hope somebody here quotes this: That is absolutely not the case, because the board’s day-to-day operations have not ceased and the department will not cease because they’re operating without a chair.
We’ve operated three times in the past without having a chair in place. There are things in place — our vice chairman is authorized to make decisions for the gaming control board and day-to-day operations, particularly when it relates to sports betting.”
Last month, the LGCB confirmed that it is moving forward with proposed regulations for both daily fantasy and sports betting, though neither have been released yet.
Voters legalized sports betting in 55 of 64 parishes, and during the legislative process, lawmakers were hoping the state would be able to launch operators during football season. The new law will allow for statewide mobile sports betting, as well as retail wagering at existing casinos and horse racetracks around the state.
Chris Altruda contributed to this report