MLB and NBA to offload fantasy sports stakes

20 April 2018

Major League Baseball (MLB) and the NBA basketball league have begun talks over selling their respective stakes in DraftKings and FanDuel.

DraftKings first secured investor support from MLB in 2013 and the league also brokered a multi-year deal in 2015 to make DraftKings its official daily fantasy game.

The NBA acquired an ownership stake in rival daily fantasy sports firm FanDuel in November 2014, but both leagues are now set to pull back from the market.

Both MLB and the NBA confirmed the discussions to ESPN, but stopped short of revealing financial details or exit terms.

In a statement, MLB said: “While we have initiated discussions regarding potential changes to the structure of our relationship, we look forward to continuing our valued partnership with DraftKings.

“MLB and DraftKings will continue to collaborate on innovative approaches to enhance the fan experience.”

NBA spokesman Mike Bass added: “This space is evolving and we saw the need to take a fresh look at the structure of our relationship.

“FanDuel has been, and will remain, a great partner; we have simply modified some of the components of our partnership.”

The news comes amid potential upheaval in the US gambling market, with the Supreme Court set to rule on a case that could open up the legalised sports betting market.

New Jersey is leading a bid to overturn the federal 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) that prevents other states from offering regulated services. Both MLB and the NBA have declared their support for New Jersey.

DraftKings has recently made a number of moves that indicate its interest in operating within a regulated sports betting market, including openings talks over possible partnerships with a number of casinos in the state of New Jersey.

MLB lawyer Bryan Seeley this month said during a committee hearing on sports betting that the league would not be “part-owner of a bookmaker”.

Speaking in a statement about the partial split from MLB, DraftKings said: “Major League Baseball was the first professional league to invest in DraftKings and their partnership over the last five years has been instrumental to our growth and success.

“Our ties to MLB are as strong as they have ever been.”

FanDuel also spoke of its links with the NBA: “FanDuel and the NBA will remain close commercial partners.”

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