BOSTON — Top daily fantasy sports companies are fiercely rejecting the idea that their rapidly growing industry should be considered gambling in the United States.

But FanDuel and DraftKings are OK with that label in the United Kingdom. They’re embracing it as a step toward global expansion.

U.K. gambling regulators granted a gambling license to DraftKings in August, while FanDuel applied earlier this month for a license as a “gambling software” company.

Jeffrey Haas, chief international officer for DraftKings, maintains there’s no contradiction. DraftKings is simply approaching each jurisdiction case by case, he said.

“Our product is a game of skill. In order to be successful, you need to apply your skill in order to have the best lineups to go into our contests to win,” Haas said. “Nevertheless, our games of skill are looked at differently by regulators in different jurisdictions around the world.”

But with the gambling debate heating up at home, some in the fantasy sports industry say the international moves put the two companies in an increasingly untenable position.

“It’s pretty naive to go get gambling licenses in the U.K. and expect people to believe you’re not gambling,” said Shergul Arshad, founder of Mondogoal, a U.K.-based daily fantasy sports startup focused on professional soccer that would likely compete with DraftKings and FanDuel.

“You can’t come to a state that bans you and say it’s not gambling and then have a U.K. gaming license,” he said. “It’s hypocrisy.”

Haas said DraftKings plans to offer its familiar range of NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball and NHL contests in the U.K. but with a special emphasis on professional soccer, including the English Premier League, North America’s Major League Soccer and Europe’s Champions League.

DraftKings and FanDuel say they support developing U.S. regulations for their industry, which grew out of traditional, season-long fantasy sports games played by millions of Americans. They just don’t want regulations as restrictive as those imposed on casino gambling.


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