The ever-expanding union between Esports and sports betting sites took another step forward recently when DRIVE By DraftKings announced a sponsorship deal with Warriors International.
 

DraftKings, Warriors International
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DRIVE is a venture capital firm that features sports betting and daily fantasy sports operator DraftKings as one of its investing partners. DRIVE by DraftKings invests exclusively in companies and startups that are involved in sports tech and entertainment. They believe in technology that is revolutionizing sports, gaming, and media.

DRIVE is a unique ecosystem that consists of athletes, entrepreneurs, investors, and teams who are driving the acceleration of sports professionals into tech and tech entrepreneurs into sports. DRIVE encompasses two complementary programs - DRIVE Venture Studio, which invests in early-stage companies whose technologies will define the future of how we play, consume and experience sports and entertainment, and the DRIVE Athlete Network, which was established to give athletes the tools and training necessary to become successful entrepreneurs and investors.

“The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has expedited technological advancements out of sheer necessity, especially in sports, gaming and media sectors where fan engagement and interaction are the lifeblood,” DRIVE by DraftKings CEO & managing partner Meredith McPherron said in a statement. McPherron continued on to note that the company’s investment into Warriors International “fits into the areas we’ve identified as major drivers across those sectors not only today but tomorrow as well.”

Warriors International is the first Esports team to get backing from DRIVE by DraftKings. A Boston-based organization, Warriors International is also sponsored by Massachusetts-based venture capitalists Stage 1 Ventures. They are rapidly expanding into several Esports titles. Currently, Warriors International enters teams in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) and Rocket League, with plans to eventually enter into FIFA and Fortnite competition.


eSports And USA Sports Betting

As legal sports betting continues to expand across the United States, those states opting into the legalization of gambling on sports have taken a hit and miss approach when it comes to Esports. Some states are including Esports betting as part of their picture, while other states have excluded wagering on Esports as an option.

DrafKings currently operates sportsbooks in 11 U.S. states and appears to be one of the American betting sites that is ahead of the curve when it comes to Esports. They carry Esports betting in every state where they are set up and it is legal to do so. Currently, that list includes Colorado, New Jersey, and West Virginia. They also offer DFS options in Esports competitions.

DraftKings CEO Jason Robins is certainly bullish on the future of Esports wagering. He has stated his personal belief that Esports will eventually be a massive part of the DraftKings lineup of sports offering.

“We significantly expanded our Esports offering and have seen exponential growth in this category,” Robins said in a statement. “We added popular Madden simulated games and began to include streaming sports within our app, which has become a very popular feature.
 

DraftKings, Warriors International
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“In fact, since the return of the NHL, the NBA, and Major League Baseball, users have continued to engage with Esports, which gives us confidence in that product’s future. We believe Esports is going to be a huge category - it's when not if.

“We believe ultimately Esports betting will be, if not the biggest, certainly one of the biggest categories of sports betting over the long term.”


COVID Lockdowns Boosted Esports Awareness

When the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered that vast majority of traditional sports, it opened up people’s eyes to the possibilities and overall entertainment value of Esports.

“Esports was really small for us until, you know, about [March],” Robins told CNBC. “Really, it was the only thing for a little while that people were still playing.”

Engagement in Esports remained strong on the DraftKings betting and DFS platforms even as the traditional sports returned to action from their COVID-19-induced lockdowns.

“I think a lot of people are finding it fun,” Robins said.

In the USA, the cross-section of online sports betting, fantasy sports, and iGaming could prove to be a $30 billion industry.

The benefits that DraftKings is drawing from Esports are evident in the backing their stock is getting from investment analysts. Canaccord Genuity analyst Michael Graham thinks that Esports will prove to be a huge driver for projected dividends garnered by people who invest in DraftKings stock.

“DraftKings has seen impressive stability from Esports, and thinks it can be one of its largest categories over time,” Graham told Casino.org.

 

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