DraftKings CEO on Failed Merger, IPO Plans, Sports Betting Prospects

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with a “maybe.” “I haven’t thought about it in that way,” he adds.

But he says an initial public offering is the goal for DraftKings, which has raised hundreds of millions of dollars from investors. An IPO won’t happen “for at least a couple years,” he adds.

“I think an IPO is probably the most realistic exit for us and probably also the best, but we’re open to other things,” Robins says. “You can control your own path to IPO. You can’t control whether someone else wants to buy you.”

A couple of years ago, much of Robins’s time was spent traveling to various state capitals to lobby for DraftKings as legislators began to regulate the emerging daily fantasy sports industry. He says regulatory discussions take up less of his time these days, although it might always be part of his job at DraftKings.

The company and its competitors have relied on an exemption in a 2006 federal law that banned online poker but allowed fantasy sports, which were categorized as games of skill and not chance, and therefore don’t fall under the purview of gambling laws. Critics have questioned the legality of the industry, saying the games are basically the same as sports gambling, which is illegal in most states. As daily fantasy sports have grown in popularity—and come under more intense scrutiny—a number of states have approved laws intended to explicitly legalize the industry, while instituting consumer protections.

Now, in an ironic twist, DraftKings—which has argued forcefully that its main product is not a form of gambling—is preparing to offer digital products that would explicitly involve betting on sports.

But launching those products depends on how the Supreme Court rules in a case that could invalidate a 1992 federal law prohibiting most states from authorizing betting on college and professional sports. (It’s legal in Nevada, Delaware, Montana, and Oregon, according to an NPR report.) There are a few ways the case could play out. But if the Supreme Court rules in a way that enables states to legalize sports betting, DraftKings would still have to wait for states to enact such laws before the company could launch related products for residents of those states, Robins says.

He says legalized sports betting could be an “enormous” opportunity to grow DraftKings’ business. He doesn’t think it will cannibalize the company’s fantasy sports revenues.

“It’s not like [sports betting] is a new activity that all of a sudden is going to be there,” Robins says. “It already exists. It’s just happening on the black market now.”

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