DraftKings Review Continued...
As a fun alternative to traditional sports betting, DraftKings offers players the chance to take part in daily fantasy sports contests. The key attraction is that users to do not have to commit to playing games which last the duration of a season or long tournaments like traditional fantasy competitions; the contests are held on a rapid-fire basis, with many lasting for just a day or a weekend. Players can get involved in free or paid events and compete for big-money prizes. Though the site launched fairly recently in 2012, the popularity of DraftKings has soared in the last few years and the brand is recognised as a trendsetter in daily fantasy sports. It officially launched its service in the UK in February 2016.
DraftKings initially focused on providing betting for a selection of major US sports, including the NFL, baseball, basketball, ice hockey and golf. NASCAR and mixed martial arts (MMA) are also available, as are eSports. The UK-facing incarnation of the site focuses heavily on the English Premier League and Champions League, placing football at the top of its menu (under the abbreviation FOT in the UK, rather than SOC as it is in the US) when you search for contests to enter. The UK offering recently added the Europa League and Mexico’s Liga MX to its list of football options.
There are various contests to choose from, so players can decide whether they wish to enter for free or buy an entry into a competition. There are also Guaranteed Prize Pool contests, where the prize pool will be paid out even if the contest does not fill up, which are highlighted in orange in the lobby. If there is no guarantee and the contest has to be cancelled, entry fees will be refunded.
If you like the idea of a one-on-one challenge, you can enter a Head-to-Head contest where the winner takes all, while 50/50s will give cash rewards to the teams finishing in the top half. Qualifiers, Multipliers and Steps offer players a variety of ways to move up to contests with higher stakes. There is even an option to create your own contests if you wish to do so.
How DraftKings Works
Once you have decided on a contest it is time to select, or draft, your team. You will have a fixed salary cap of $50,000 (the site uses dollars as its currency despite being UK-facing) and you must stick to your budget as you select real-life players in the sport of your choice, who have all been given a price by DraftKings. Depending on the sport, there are various other restrictions, such as which positions they must play and how many players can be chosen from the same team. The scoring system is then set out and players will earn points for your team based on how they actually perform in real life, such as when footballers score goals. Whereas it can be hard to sustain interest in fantasy competitions which go on all season, daily contests allow users to play for big prizes far more regularly and select participants who are fit and in form when you want them to be!
The site is neat and looks professional, with muted shades of grey being punctuated by the occasional flash of DraftKings’ corporate green, orange and white. The only real use of colour otherwise is in the banners advertising contests and on the player icons. Some sports feature player headshots in the draft section, which would be worth rolling out across all the games rather than replacing them with team colour icons. However, the basic nature of the site generally works to its benefit.
The mobile site is similarly simple and, considering the sheer volume of information carried by both platforms, it is to DraftKings’ credit that it doesn’t feel too busy or cluttered. Navigation is easy enough and everything you need is just a click or two away from the lobby.
You would think that, having launched in the UK, the prevailing currency for the fantasy wages attributed to the players would be pounds sterling instead of dollars. Another gripe is the bizarre time format used in contests on the mobile app. Phrases like “today at 16pm” are displayed to describe an event starting at four o’clock in the afternoon. Surely “today at 4pm” or “today at 16:00” would make more sense.
DraftKings provides a range of features to enhance the experience for players, most notably the ability to watch your score updates live online to see if you are on course to triumph in your latest contest. Each player has in-depth statistics and notes on their recent performances available to view by tapping their icon, although these feature numerous misspellings and are not always bang up to date.
As well as being able to fashion your own leagues and Head-to-Head contests, which can remain private between you and your friends or be open to the public, the Local Play option allows you create a contest with others in the vicinity using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, turning the game into a truly social experience.
There is also a very engaging news and strategy section dedicated mainly to the English Premier League called DraftKings FC, as well as the DraftKings Playbook, which offers detailed insight and research for future contests in other sports. DKTV is the site’s YouTube channel, which offers lots of extra analysis in digestible portions.
DraftKings is available on tablet and mobile as well as desktop, with dedicated apps for Android and iOS on offer. The service is still slick and stylish and it means that players can enter contests or keep an eye on their team’s performance no matter where they are or what they’re doing.
DraftKings Promotions and Bonuses
DraftKings offers a first-time 100% deposit bonus of up to £400, but you receive it at a rate of $1 for every 100 Frequent Player Points (FPPs) you earn. In addition, although you deposit in sterling, you must accept the site’s given exchange rates into dollars, with all the entry fees and prize amounts displayed in the American currency. This is unnecessarily baffling, overcomplicating what should be a fairly simple system.
FPPs are accrued every time you enter a paid contest and as you earn more of them, you will be able to trade them in for tickets for contests or items in the VIP store, which also provides perks such as merchandise and experiences exclusive to DraftKings players. The amount of FPPs earned will vary between contests and are not available for contests offering free entries.
The site also runs promotions offering free tickets for contests and provides freeroll contests to allow you to play for prizes without even depositing.
DraftKings looks decent and is simple to navigate your way through in order to find what you need. The games are fun, there’s plenty of choice and there are some fantastic ways to involve your friends. Season-long fantasy games are already big in the UK, so there is no reason why DraftKings shouldn’t thrive here despite the regulatory issues it faces across the pond. The company knows what it is doing in this field and that shines through in the depth of information and breadth of choice on offer.
The current downsides to playing at DraftKings in the UK are the fact you can only deposit via PayPal (for the moment) and the insistence at converting your deposits to dollars to play on a UK-based site. However, these are likely to be looked at in the near future and, once the creases have been ironed out, DraftKings will be a force to be reckoned with.