The NFL held the first round in a fully virtual format on Thursday night, marking the first major sporting event in several weeks after sports leagues were forced to suspend their seasons due to the coronavirus outbreak. Robins said DraftKings, which has continued to offer mobile betting even as the pandemic shuttered physical sportsbooks, took more action on the draft than it does on a typical NFL “Sunday Night Football” game during the season.
“There’s so much pent up demand,” Robins told FOX Business Network anchor Neil Cavuto. “People are bored at home and they’re hungry for traditional sports. The NFL Draft, which is certainly a big event for us every year, this year just absolutely blew our expectations out of the water. It was huge.”
DraftKings began trading as a public company just hours after the NFL Draft’s first round concluded. Shares climbed after going live on Nasdaq under the stock ticker “DKNG,” one day after shareholders of blank-check company Diamond Eagle granted final approval on a deal that merged DraftKings and sports betting platform SBTech.
The newly formed entity started with a market value of $3.3 billion and more than $500 million in unrestricted cash on hand to fuel growth in the near future. The deal with Diamond Eagle, a special purpose acquisition company that was already publicly traded, allowed DraftKings to go live trading without the need for a traditional IPO.
“We had a good sense of where we were but it’s nice to see it go up today,” Robins said regarding the stock’s debut. “Hopefully that’s a reflection of investors’ confidence in the strategy and future that DraftKings has.”
With traditional sporting events postponed for the foreseeable future, DraftKings has gotten creative with its mobile offerings. The platform was taken bets on everything from the 2020 presidential debates to trivia from Netflix’s “Tiger King” series to esports, depending on what is permitted under gambling guidelines in specific states.
Founded as a daily fantasy sports company, DraftKings has emerged as a top betting operator since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal ban on sports gambling in 2018. The company operates physical sportsbooks in New Jersey, New York and Mississippi, as well as online betting in several other states.