[toc]Game tribes across the United States have been pretty much on the sidelines when it comes to offering daily fantastic sports. This is changing in a major way, as a tribe of Minnesota launched a DFS site before the next one nfl season which will be purchased from other tribes with gambling interests.
Grand Fantasy Sports, at a glance
Grand Fantasy Sports was uploaded this week; it was developed by Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures, the commercial arm of the Thousand Lakes Band of Ojibwe. This tribe owns and operates Grand Casino Mille Lacs and Grand Casino Hinckley in Minnesota.
It is more than a standalone fantasy sports platform, however; the underlying software is called EZFantasy, which is a B2B white label platform developed and launched last year by Casino Solutions 2020, another company under the aegis of MLCV.
The competitions offered are based on the dominant form of DFS in the market, the salary cap model offered by people like FanDuel and DraftKings. It just comes like daily fantasy football the season starts.
The site started out as a free play offer for Grand Casino customers, and a real money version of the platform was developed during the NFL offseason. The site has an agreement with a sports data company Sports radar to provide statistics.
Grand Fantasy will run promotions designed to drive traffic back to the physical facility, as well as allow the casino to communicate with new audiences of potential customers on a daily basis, according to Sarah barten, public relations for MLCV.
MLCV also plans to integrate its DFS offering into two planned upgrades to its casinos: Branded hamburger bar at its Grand Casino Mille Lacs location and a sports observation bar (Rival House Sports Lounge) at its location at the Grand Casino Hinckley. Both projects are currently under construction.
“By combining its fantastic sports offering with new restaurants, Grand Casinos will appeal to a different generation of customer base and provide regular sports fans with an exciting new entertainment experience,” Barten told Legal Sports Report.
Where is Grand Fantasy live?
Grand Fantasy contests are offered in only 11 states:
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
Of course, the idea is not that customers from all of these states are flocking to the Grand Fantasy platform. Rather, the hope is that the tribes in these states will use the EZ Fantasy platform with their own version of the site. Then, the user bases will be shared on all the sites of the network.
According to Barten, 2020 mainly marketed its platform for land casinos.
The list of sites where the site is operational is far from the quarantine that most DFS operators serve in the United States, based on various legal concerns. Most of the above states have tribal gambling and generally have gambling laws that are considered conducive to offering DFS as a game of skill. But some states have also made the cut for other reasons:
- There are friendly DFS laws in the books in Kansas, Colorado and Mississippi, the latter two having relatively light regulations in their laws.
- West Virginia Attorney General issued a positive opinion on the legality of DFS.
- California appears on this list as the only State with the least legal clarity in the group; However, the state’s large population would give a huge boost to cash flow if gamer tribes plugged into it.
Tribes, Online Gambling and DFS
Tribes with vested interests in casinos have not been at the forefront of daily fantasy sports, to date, as this is the first real foray into the industry.
That’s not to say that the tribes weren’t involved at all, as some have viewed DFS as encroach on their gaming compacts in the states. This sentiment was expressed by the tribes in:
Learn about the history of tribes and DFS here and here. (Note: At one point, the DFS operator DraftDay had a agreement with Seneca in New York City, a relationship that has not been exploited in any meaningful way.)
Resistance to the DFS came from the fact that the tribes did not want to grant what they consider to be a game expansion in their states. They rallied around the idea of giving non-tribal interests an advantage or equal footing. (Of course, this position ignores the fact that DFS companies are already operating in almost every state where tribal resistance has manifested itself.)
If tribes start to invest in DFS space – instead of just being interested observers or try to curb the advance of DFS – it could drastically change the dynamics of the discussion across the United States. In this scenario, the tribes more active lobbying against the relatively friendly legislation that the DFS industry (or at least DraftKings and FanDuel) has passed in eight states or would like to see passed in others.
The tribes are also increasingly considering online play:
The History of DFS Legality in Minnesota
Minnesota is generally considered a State where DFS is legal by most operators. That hasn’t stopped an effort earlier this year by the state legislature to clearly legalize and regulate the DFS industry.
This effort, however, failed; a bill has been passed by the House, but blocked in the Senate.
The legality of DFS has been called into question in a court case involving a smaller DFS operator, which is arguing that DFS is illegal in Minnesota to get out of paying his debt to the NHL franchise in the state.
Can the B2B model work in the United States and for the tribes?
The B2B model for DFS has been around for years now, although it has yet to gain significant traction. One of the new entrants, the iTEAM network, has managed to gain new white label customers, but it is still relatively small. Star Fantasy Leagues and Draft day also offer white label DFS solutions.
But we’ve seen more evidence that the B2B model in DFS could gain momentum. Including USFantasy, a DFS operator in Nevada who has partnered with several sport bets in the state. It also includes World Daily Fantastic Sports, an operator eyeing international regulated markets with a distribution agreement with the games company NYX.
The appetite for the B2B model – in the United States and in particular for the gaming tribes – is not yet known. And the Tribes are entering the DFS industry in a big hole, trying to compete with the giant market advantage that DraftKings and FanDuel enjoy.
However, Grand Casino and other tribal casinos have certain advantages that current DFS operators do not, such as a lower customer acquisition cost by targeting casino customers to whom they already have access.
For now, the Grand Fantasy DFS offering is a niche and will not shake things up in the larger DFS industry in the near term. But if you are a tribe that wants to get into the DFS business, you have to start somewhere.