Fantasy sports operators such as football platform Mondogoal are looking to create a culture of daily fantasy sport in Europe. Matt Cutler reports.
Daily fantasy sport is taking north America by storm.
The premise is simple: players pay an ‘entry fee’ and set a team that scores points, on a daily basis, to win cash prizes. And importantly, like regular fantasy sport – in the States at least – it is considered a game of skill and therefore not gambling, making it available to everyone over the age of 18.
FanDuel and DraftKings are the region’s two major players – FanDuel paid out more than $500 million in winnings and took $50 million in entry fees in 2014 – but now platforms are bringing daily fantasy sport to Europe, looking to engage players of free fantasy games and fans betting on live sport.
The number of people who play fantasy sport in Europe easily eclipses the number estimated to play in north America, which is 41.5 million according to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association (FSTA), and Shergul Arshad, CEO of Mondogoal, believes he has spotted a gap in the market.
“No-one is offering daily fantasy football [soccer] and as of today, no-one is waking up wondering why. We believe this is changing,” Arshad, the former head of digital at Italian football team AS Roma, told SportBusiness International.
Mondogoal launched in June 2014 and offers daily fantasy sport games across the top-tier football leagues of England, France, Spain, Germany, Italy and the United States, in addition to the UEFA Champions League and European international qualification matches.
“Online betting and gaming exists, and season-long fantasy football exists. Having the weekly or daily ‘sit and go’ fantasy format, similar to online poker, for European and global football, is a natural hybrid – more so than in the United States.”
According to Arshad, players of daily fantasy sport deposit an average of $2,000 a year in entry fees.
“There are already over three million people playing the [official] English Premier League season-long fantasy game, and when you add the various newspaper sites and other countries in Europe, I would say there are tens of millions of fantasy football addicts in Europe,” he adds.
“Our target audience is a mix of these fantasy football fans, fans looking for deeper reasons to engage with their favourite clubs, and online gamers or poker players interested in the latest format to exhibit their skill.”
Mondogoal was founded by Arshad, his high-school friend and European legal expert Daniel Feldman (chief operating officer), and Eric Savage (chief technology officer), whom Arshad met working at online shopping platform StyleFeeder.
Based in the Isle of Man, Mondogoal acquired a gaming licence for the UK and is in the process of acquiring one for Italy. It also operates in territories that don’t require a gaming licence, therefore players based in north America are able to use the platform.
Part of Mondogoal’s marketing strategy has been to sign partnership deals with European football clubs, and FC Barcelona, Manchester City, Liverpool, AS Roma and West Ham United are all on its books. Mondogoal gets to use club licenses, and is able to use their marketing platforms to acquire new players. The deals all have a revenue-share element, meaning the club makes money on every player Mondogoal acquires through them.
Arshad says, however, that for the company to realise its potential it needs to undertake a major marketing drive, and the company is currently in the process of seeking investment to do exactly that. At the time of writing, $2 million had been raised.
“If we educate the UK and eventually Europe and the world, I think we will have hundreds of thousands of active players,” he adds. “PR, marketing and customer acquisition is very high on the agenda – independently and with our club partners.”