One week after new PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan expressed openness to legalized betting for tournaments, the fantasy golf space received a shot in the arm.
FanDuel, the daily fantasy sports site readying to merge with former competitor DraftKings, has decided to add golf to the list of sports it will offer, according to a Yahoo Finance report. With the two leading companies in the space becoming one by the end of 2017, golf’s inclusion in the rapidly growing space could be vital.
“You look at DraftKings and FanDuel, you look at gaming in the international markets, there’s a lot of opportunity there,” Monahan told Golf Channel last week. “There’s some complexity, and that complexity has held us back from moving forward. But we will look at it and have an open mind towards it.”
That complexity remains the pressing issue.
Many believe that daily fantasy golf constitutes illegal gambling because a single PGA Tour tournament does not contain “multiple events,” a key condition in the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act of 2006.
Perhaps driven by that reason, FanDuel is taking a completely different approach to fantasy golf. Contestants will select a group of golfers for the first two rounds, another group for the third round and then another set for the final round.
FanDuel CEO Nigel Eccles is bullish on golf’s inclusion being successful and legal.
“We had been looking at golf for over a year,” Eccles told Yahoo Finance. “We were mindful of the regulatory environment, but now we have states passing laws and really setting the boundaries of what we can and can’t do. We think there’s a golf product we can do that would be compliant with that and be an awesome experience. We took our time on it.”
There is no hard evidence to suggest that daily fantasy golf games have driven viewership, but the popularity of the games has coincided with an increase in the number of millennials watching golf. Golf Channel and NBC reported record-setting ratings for live broadcasts in 2016.
“I could see it driving golf,” Eccles said. “Because now I have a reason to watch all day, because I’ve picked my team.”