No profits? No worries: There's never a dull day at DraftKings

After reuniting with old flame Barstool Sports, DraftKings closed a busy period with its own Super Bowl: $1.2bn in quarterly revenue and a $750m acquisition.

DraftKingsQ4

I have to admit, I'm a little disappointed. I thought Q4 2023 might have been DraftKings' first profitable quarter.

No doubt CEO Jason Robins would tell me that prediction was too ambitious, given the nine-digit net losses the operator's quarterlies had previously contained on a regular basis.

After all, despite still suffering a $43.8m loss from operations for Q4 2023, this was a swing of almost $200m in the right direction year-on-year, while revenue of $1.23bn is an almightily impressive figure. Indeed, it represents a third of DraftKings' overall revenue for the whole of 2022.

Importantly, DraftKings said it would be adjusted EBITDA-positive in Q4 – and that it was.

Adjusted EBITDA of $151m is a far cry from the negative $49.9m of Q4 2022; and the fact there is no minus sign before the number is the most significant indication yet that DraftKings could become a highly profitable company.

There's never a dull day at DraftKings. Risk does not faze Robins and co in their pursuit of market share

Never standing still

After releasing its Q4 and full-year 2023 report, however, DraftKings didn't just give itself a pat on the back. No, even devoid of a net profit, Robins and his team quickly announced the $750m acquisition of Jackpocket.

DraftKings is no longer just fantasy sports, sports betting, casino, NFTs and technology (I mean, that's quite a list already), it now has digital lottery in its armory.

Not unlike DraftKings, Jackpocket has risen through the ranks quickly, making its name in the industry as a technological disruptor within a short space of time. As a notable sign of its success, it was nominated for Digital Operator of the Year at the Global Gaming Awards 2023 in Las Vegas.

Following that up with a $750m vote of confidence from one of the industry's biggest heavyweights is some next step.

But this also shows that, while DraftKings is raking in the billions revenue-wise, the knowledge is there that it cannot stand still, something other operators could easily be accused of (looking at you, 888 Holdings).

Just look at market leader FanDuel. DraftKings has made huge strides to catch the Flutter Entertainment-owned brand and, in some states, overtaken it. But FanDuel is still going strong, only last month becoming the first operator to exceed $100m in monthly gross gaming revenue in New York. Flutter's primary listing in the US is also a massive statement of intent.

And it's not just FanDuel, either. While Fanatics bides its time and BetMGM continues to impress, ESPN Bet now has the requisite certification to utilise the ESPN name in New York, after Penn acquired Wynn Interactive's licence for $25m.

No profits? No worries

In short, DraftKings recognises that there is no shortage of competition from its chief rivals – and is showing no complacency as a result.

Even the mention of Penn, which reported its own net loss of $358.8m for Q4 in its bid to catch up with the likes of DraftKings, is noteworthy.

Indeed, after Penn sold Barstool Sports back to Dave Portnoy for just $1 (no, that's not a typo), DraftKings wasted no time in reuning with its old partner – with Barstool now promoting DraftKings' odds in a no-strings-attached, old-fashioned affiliate partnership.

DraftKings is no longer just fantasy sports, sports betting, casino, NFTs and technology (I mean, that's quite a list already), it now has digital lottery in its armory

I, personally, have doubts over the risks involved in allying with the controversial Portnoy. DraftKings is a publicly traded and highly regulated company, just like Penn, and the wrong social media post or even off-the-cuff remark could have genuine ramifications for the operator.

But there's never a dull day at DraftKings. Risk does not faze Robins and co in their pursuit of market share.

That's especially so given the new addition of Jackpocket. Spare a thought for any new entrants to the B2C US sports betting and iGaming space: it's becoming more and more difficult to keep up with the leaders.

So, while it still amazes me that some of the biggest organisations on the market – and not just in gambling – can go so long without turning a profit, DraftKings remains undeterred.

Let battle commence in 2024.


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