Not everybody with a sports gambling inclination is looking to bet three-team teasers or five-team parlays or is willing to lay a price to bet an alternative spread. As legal, regulated sports betting spreads from state to state, some would-be bettors find themselves wanting to test the waters in the least complicated way possible: by picking winners.
DraftKings Sportsbook announced today the launch of DraftKings Sportsbook Pools, a concept that combines elements of what made DK famous — large-field fantasy sports contests — and traditional sports betting, using a format even the most casual of bettors likely have experience with.
With this new offering, New Jersey’s top revenue-generating online sportsbook is harkening back to the weekly NFL pools that used to be found in every office and college dorm, before fantasy sports came along and stole those pools’ corner.
“Millions of Americans have been playing in sports pools for years with their friends and coworkers, and now one of the most popular ways that fans can get ‘skin in the game’ is live on DraftKings Sportsbook,” DraftKings co-founder and Chief Revenue Officer Matt Kalish said in a press release. “DraftKings Sportsbook Pools features simple predictions, such as picking the winner of each NFL game weekly, combined with the potential to win jackpot-style prizes. This product will unquestionably make every game more exciting for DraftKings Sportsbook players of all levels.”
DK already offers this — sort of
Since the start of the NFL season, DraftKings Sportsbook has been working out kinks and gauging interest in this very type of contest with a weekly free picks promo called DraftKings Team Pick’em, spreading $25,000 in prizes each week among thousands of entrants. The more games you guess correctly, the more exclusive the group you land in and the more prize money that group splits.
In the free-to-enter Team Pick’em, though, the winnings have been tiny because of the sheer volume of players. In a typical week, picking, say, 11 winners out of 15 games might earn you 30 cents in your DK account.
With DraftKings Sportsbook Pools, the combination of actual entry fees and smaller fields means a chance for a more substantial profit.
The first such contest, focusing on Sunday and Monday’s Week 10 NFL games, opens today, with a $20 buy-in and a guaranteed $200,000 in prizes. Players who pick the winners of every single game correctly will split the $100,000 top prize; get one wrong, and you earn a piece of a $60,000 share; and get all but two games right and you get a cut of $40,000.
It’s impossible to guess at this point what the rake will be or how much the prize pool will increase if there are more entries than the minimum 10,000 needed to avoid overlay. What seems certain is that the prize payouts will be much flatter than they are in typical DFS guaranteed-prize-pool tournaments (and a smaller percentage of entrants will likely cash).
Not just for NFL games
While this first contest keeps it as simple and familiar as possible by asking players to pick the winners on a slate of football games, future Pools contests could go in different directions.
The press release says, using the most vague, general language possible, “To play DraftKings Sportsbook Pools, sports fans are given a collection of questions related to potential outcomes in a specific game or series of games. Players select from provided responses and submit their entry into a pool where winners are then determined based on the number of correct picks as the real-life events unfold.”
So in theory, a similar contest could be held using all the first-round matches in a tennis tournament. Or the challenge could be to pick overs or unders on score totals for every game on an NBA slate.
Entrants have to be located in New Jersey to participate, though the DK Sportsbook app and website can be viewed from outside the state. The pools are currently only available on iOS and Android, but coming to desktop soon.
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