FanDuel relaunches fantasy sports in Delaware Friday

Fantasy sports operators FanDuel and DraftKigns are relaunching in Delaware this Friday.

Online fantasy sports operators FanDuel and DraftKings will be open for business in Delaware on Friday, a month after Gov. John Carney, D-Delaware, signed a fantasy games bill into law.

The operators expect a large turnout from Delawareans this weekend as they promise the potential to win significant prizes.  

Delaware’s FanDuel players will be able to enter its NFL FanDuel Sunday Million for a shot at winning $1 million during the start of football season.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

“It’s really exciting. I think we’re very grateful we were able to work with local government representation to find a solution that works for both our parties, and also works for the players and puts [consumer] protections in, and we’re excited we were able to do it in the time frame we were, where players can play in football—which is the number one fantasy sport out there—so the fine folks of Delaware have the option to do that for the NFL season,” said FanDuel CFO Andy Giancamilli.

“So, for us, it’s great. It shows that by working with state government we don’t have to prevent people from playing the game they love. We just work with them to make sure we put the right protections in place for those players, and clarify with the regulators how we’re going to operate and work with them. It’s another example of what can be done when we work together.”

DraftKings is offering the opportunity to win $1 billion if a player drafts the perfect lineup.


“DraftKings is thrilled to be returning to Delaware August 25th, just in time for our most exciting NFL season ever,” a company spokesman said in an email.

“Our Delaware players will have the opportunity to achieve fantasy football immortality by drafting the perfect lineup and winning the Billion Dollar Lineup challenge. It would certainly be fitting if a DraftKings player from the First State scored another history-making first and become fantasy sports’ first ever billionaire.”

The new law allows Delawareans to bet on fantasy sports, and directs the state to create regulations for the industry.

Sponsored by State Rep. Charles Potter, D-Wilmington, the legislation labels fantasy sports “games of skill,” asserting it is not a form of illegal gambling under Delaware law.

Last year, the Delaware Department of Justice notified several leading fantasy sports operators that “their respective online fantasy sports activities are not permitted under Delaware law.”

The decision followed moves from other states that declared fantasy sports a gambling activity, and that operators must have a gambling license.

This opinion was one of the reasons Potter’s bill originally failed in the Senate in June—and never even made it to the House floor a year prior. But it was brought back for reconsideration during the last day of session, earning a 13-7 vote in the Senate and a 36-4 vote in the House.

Popular online fantasy sports operators have argued the activity is not gambling because it’s a “game of skill,” not a “game of chance.”

FanDuel had been operating in the state for about five years when the DOJ made its announcement.

“I think there was uncertainty, but once it settled in and FanDuel took the stance we would stop operating in Delaware, I think people really wanted daily fantasy games back, so we felt a groundswell of support to start working with regulators to try to get Delaware turned back on to allow players to play,” Giancamilli said.

“Thousands of people emailed the congressman to pass a bill, and we had players reaching out to us urging us to work with the states to try to find a solution that works for everybody so they could play again.”

DraftKings player Shawn Windsor said he plays football, golf and basketball on the site. He said he was disappointed when the state asked operators to cease services in Delaware, because he’d won a decent amount money from the activity. Windsor resorted to driving to Maryland to play, which he said was inconvenient and time-consuming, and resulted in him playing less.

“I’m super stoked (it’s back)–it’s been long year of having to drive to Maryland to play. I’m glad to see legislators finally woke up and realized potential money they could acquire to help budget woes in our state,” he said.

“I will definitely play this weekend—NASCAR, and some preseason football at least. Daily also opened me up to other sports that I hadn’t yet played fantasy in. As a result, I am more of a sports fan than ever.”

Delaware is now the 14th state to pass a law allowing fantasy sports to operate as “games of skill.” Supporters of the new law say it will bring in $500,000 to $1 million during the first year, as an estimated 150,000 Delawareans play fantasy sports.

Delaware player Kevin Stark said he used FanDuel to compete against friends in other states on NFL Sundays. However, he stopped playing when those other states shut down fantasy sports betting before Delaware made the move. Stark said there are several benefits to using sites like FanDuel.

“Traditional fantasy football is long-term, where as in FanDuel, you can find out if you win within hours,” he said. “Also, injuries on a fantasy team can ruin your season fairly quickly. Using FanDuel allows you to gain some satisfaction from a poor fantasy season.”

Delaware’s fees on fantasy sports operators will be one of the highest in the nation. In addition to applying for a license and paying a $50,000 annual fee, operators of paid fantasy sports are subject to a 15 percent fee on their net adjusted revenues, or the equivalent of the highest rate set by another state.

Delaware will always have a fee equivalent to the highest rate in the country, which is currently in New York. The fees will be based on the proceeds after cash awards are handed out.  

“I think for daily fantasy sports we want to operate and offer this game to the people who want it. So, we view it as it’s a reality that we will deal with. For us, it’s more important to get the game into the players’ hands that want it. Obviously, we were able to work with Delaware and get a law passed, so we’re happy with that progress,” Giancamilli said.

“Let’s see how it goes. I think we’re going to see a strong outpouring of support, and a lot of activity from our players in Delaware, because I think they really enjoy the product and want it back, and you’d have to reassess it at a later time around the full economics. I think right now we’re really excited to be back operating and letting people play sports.”

FanDuel is offering Delawareans a low-rate of $7 to enter the NFL FanDuel Sunday Million, which usually takes place every year.

The site has added beginner-only contests so new players can learn with those with similar experience levels. FanDuel also has created a friends mode, so users can play with their group of friends on a reoccurring basis. Players also will be able to participate in new sports, like golf and soccer.

“They’ll find a lot of similarities, but a lot of new features that are pretty exciting, and I think the people of Delaware coming back to the site will be enthused to play them,” Giancamilli said.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal