Sports betting giant DraftKings is set to become a public company after setting a merger agreement with Diamond Eagle Acquisition Corp., the public acquisition vehicle headed by industry veterans Harry Sloan and Jeff Sagansky.
The deal calls for a three-way combination between DraftKings, Diamond Eagle and SBTech, which provides betting and gaming technologies. Existing investors will kick in $304 million at the deal’s closing to develop DraftKings improve and expand its operations available at present in 43 states and eight international markets.
With the transaction, Diamond Eagle will change its name to DraftKings Inc., reincorporate in Nevada and retain its NASDAQ listing but under a different ticker symbol. The company is expected to have a market cap of about $3.3 billion and $500 million in cash on its books at closing, which is expected in the first half of next year.
Boston-based DraftKings offers mobile and online sports betting in Indiana, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and sports betting at retail locations in Iowa, Mississippi, New Jersey and New York. But the expansion of online betting on sports and fantasy sports vehicles has stirred controversy, prompting New York state to briefly ban online fantasy sports betting in 2016 until tighter regulations were put in place.
The transaction is a sign of investor optimism that the world of mobile and online sports betting is poised to explode. Fox Corp. has put resources into this arena with the launch in September of the Fox Bet service. The DraftKings deal was orchestrated by Sloan, who has launched five public acquisition vehicles with Sagansky since 2011. Diamond Eagle bowed in May with a $400 million public offering.
DraftKings is one of the prominent online wagering brands to emerge from the rise of fantasy sports leagues. The company will continue to be headed by CEO Jason Robins, a co-founder of DraftKings along with Paul Liberman and Matt Kalish, who will also stay on as senior managers.
“The combination of DraftKings’ leading and trusted brand, deep focus on customer experience and data science expertise and SBTech’s highly innovative and proven technology platform creates a vertically-integrated powerhouse,” said Robins. “I look forward to building significantly upon our goals of continuing our state-by-state rollout and creating the most entertaining and engaging customer experiences for sports fans globally.”
Sloan gave high praise to Robins and his team in announcing the deal.
“DraftKings is already a premier online fantasy sports and betting platform,” Sloan said. “With the full integration of SBTech’s technology and innovative product expertise coupled with the right capitalization, DraftKings will be in a great position to continue its ambitious expansion plans in the United States. I have known Jason Robins for four years, and consider him a true entrepreneur. I believe our investors share my utmost respect for his vision and leadership.”