Thanks to a $71.3 billion merger, the Walt Disney Company now owns 21st Century Fox. What does this have to do with sports betting? Well, as part of this mega-deal, Disney now has a stake in DraftKings.
A spokesperson for DraftKings confirmed to Legal Sports Report that “through one of its subsidiaries,” Disney does now indeed own interest in the daily fantasy and sports betting company.
Ironically, Disney originally had an investment deal in place with DraftKings back in 2015, but the deal fell through. The 2015 investment was reportedly going to be worth $215 million.
Change Of Plans
Another interesting part of this new deal that has brought Disney and DraftKings together is that Disney has been openly opposed to directly affiliating itself with gambling.
A few months ago Disney CEO Bob Iger stated that Disney would not be getting into the sports betting business.
“I don’t see The Walt Disney Company, certainly in the near term, getting involved in the business of gambling, in effect, by facilitating gambling in any way.
“I do think that there’s plenty of room, and ESPN has done some of this already, and they may do more to provide information in coverage of sports, as a for instance, that would be relevant to and of particular interest to gambling and not be shy about it, basically being fairly overt about it. But getting into the business of gambling, I rather doubt it.”
It turns out Iger was wrong. Unless, of course, Disney plans to sell off its stake in DraftKings. Which could be possible, especially since Disney has been against gambling expansion in Florida that could have led to legal sports betting in the Sunshine State.
Disney teamed up with the Seminole Tribe in Florida to prevent an amendment that would have expanded gambling in Florida. The Orlando Sentinel reported that Disney and the Seminole Tribe combined to pay $26 million towards the anti-casino campaign. DraftKings was obviously in support of the amendment.
DraftKings currently has sports betting operations in two states, New Jersey and Mississippi. In New Jersey, they have both a brick-and-mortar sportsbook as well as their online and mobile app. In Mississippi, they have just their retail sportsbook.
Ties With ESPN
Now that Disney has an interest in DraftKings, you can expect to see a lot of affiliation between them and ESPN, which is a Disney-owned company.
It is worth noting that DraftKings and Caesars Entertainment have recently partnered up as well. With Caesars also having a stake in DraftKings, Disney and Caesars now have business ties. Considering that last month, the CEO said that his company wouldn’t be affiliating itself with gambling in the near future, it comes as a bit of a surprise to see Disney having ownership in DraftKings.
Based on what Iger has said in the past, perhaps Disney will try to remove itself from DraftKings. Although, they just as easily could go for a total buyout of Draftkings. Disney’s next move with DraftKings will be an interesting one.