19 April 2018

Formula One invests in an online fantasy gaming company

The Formula One group has invested in the Irish-based PlayON fantasy sports entertainment company, which has registered customers in over 100 countries around the world. The deal values the company at $42 million, but it is not clear how much Formula One has invested in the business, but the money will be used to help PlayON launch into the United States market.

Founded in 2012 by former Merrion Capital financial analyst Killian Jones, PlayON operates in the fantasy sports betting markets, in countries where online betting is legal, notably in Ireland, Britain and Australia. It offers fantasy games in football, basketball, golf, cricket, rugby union, rugby league and Australian rules football, and has partnerships with the NBA in basketball and with the European Tour golf. As part of the deal, PlayON becomes the Official Daily Fantasy Partner of Formula 1 and will be integrated into F1’s new OTT service F1 TV in key markets. It is the first time Formula One has taken an equity stake in an external company, under the new regime, and underlines the company's desire to develop digital markets. Fans pick a team of five drivers and one constructor for each race, and points being awarded for such things as finishing positions, positions gained and fastest laps. If their picks are successful they will win money.

"Formula 1 is continuously looking for ways to engage with new audiences, particularly in the digital space," says Frank Arthofer, Formula One's director of digital and new business. "Fantasy Sports is an exciting industry and offers us the opportunity to engage with a young and vibrant fan base. We believe in PlayON, its product, leadership, and its strict approach to regulation, only operating real-money games in territories that have a clearly established regulatory framework in place: this enables F1 to enter the daily fantasy market without concern over legality. We feel PlayON’s approach is the right one for long-term success in the industry."

The partnership is aimed at the US market where the regulatory environment is currently being clearly established in multiple states, after years when online betting and gaming for real money has been illegal.

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