DraftKings hires lobbyists as sports betting spreads in US and draws lawmakers' attention

DraftKings Inc., a company that’s seen sizable growth thanks to its daily-fantasy games, is providing more evidence that it’s aiming to become a force in sports betting.

A recent filing shows it has hired lobbyists to “educate policymakers on issues related to fantasy sports and sports wagering.” The company has employed Invariant LLC, which was previously known as Heather Podesta + Partners, to lobby on those issues, and a separate filing shows DraftKings also has hired Dunkel Government Relations LLC for lobbying work.

A DraftKings spokesman declined to comment on the moves, saying only that the company’s focus “remains on developing an open, competitive mobile sports betting market.” DraftKings in recent months has launched sports-betting businesses in West Virginia and New Jersey.

Sports betting is seeing big growth in the U.S. after a Supreme Court ruling eight months ago that opened the door for states to allow betting on sporting events, invalidating a federal law that prohibited such wagers in most of the country.

In December, retiring Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch and Sen. Charles Schumer, the New York Democrat and minority leader, teamed up to introduce a bill that would have the U.S. Justice Department set minimum standards for states to offer sports betting.

“People in the industry don’t think it’s going anywhere,” said Joseph Weinert, executive vice president at Spectrum Gaming Group, referring to Hatch and Schumer’s bill.

The legislation will have to be reintroduced in the new Congress. Hatch has now retired.

The bill has not been reintroduced in the new Congress that was sworn in this month.

But sports-betting issues are “bubbling at the federal level,” and it behooves any company hoping to become a major player to stay plugged in regarding what’s happening in Washington, the Spectrum analyst told MarketWatch.

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/draftkings-hires-lobbyists-as-sports-betting-spreads-in-us-and-draws-lawmakers-attention-2019-01-11