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DraftKings Expects To Handle Tens Of Millions Of Dollars In Super Bowl Bets

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu smiled after using the DraftKings mobile app to place a sports bet in Manchester, N.H., on Dec. 30, 2019. New Hampshire has partnered with DraftKings to operate a sportsbook in the state. (Charles Krupa/AP)
New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu smiled after using the DraftKings mobile app to place a sports bet in Manchester, N.H., on Dec. 30, 2019. New Hampshire has partnered with DraftKings to operate a sportsbook in the state. (Charles Krupa/AP)

The Patriots aren't in the Super Bowl this weekend, but Boston is nevertheless part of the action.

The gambling action, that is.

Boston-based DraftKings expects to handle tens of millions of dollars in wagers on the big game — far more than last year, but still a small fraction of what the company envisions in a future of expanded, legal sports betting.

"There's still a pretty big illegal market out there, but over time, as more states legalize, that'll migrate to legal," said DraftKings Chief Executive Jason Robins. "It's a great opportunity."

DraftKings' core business remains fantasy sports, in which contestants compete for money by assembling imaginary rosters of real athletes who yield "fantasy points" based on their statistics in actual games. Under regulatory scrutiny, the company long insisted it was not a gambling enterprise but rather an operator of skill-based contests that don't depend on the outcomes of real games such as the Super Bowl.

But since a landmark 2018 Supreme Court ruling empowered any state to legalize sports betting, DraftKings has leaned into traditional bookmaking wherever it can. For now, it takes online wagers in five states, up from just one at the time of last year's Super Bowl.

DraftKings hopes to run sportsbooks in many other states, including Massachusetts, where Gov. Charlie Baker has proposed legalizing sports betting.

Robins predicts betting will ultimately become the centerpiece of his company, which plans to go public this year.

"It's only a matter of time — pretty soon, I think," said Robins. "Fantasy sports is absolutely great for fan engagement, but sports betting is a bigger market."

In the meantime, people in New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Indiana and West Virginia can bet on Sunday's NFL championship game between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers. DraftKings considers the Chiefs slight favorites.

Like other bookmakers, DraftKings also takes "prop" bets — wagers on specific events within the game.

Which quarterback — Patrick Mahomes or Jimmy Garoppolo — will pass for more yards?

Will either team mount a scoring drive that requires less time than it takes Demi Lovato to sing the national anthem?

With which color of Gatorade will players on the winning team douse their coach?

These are among the hundreds of prop bets DraftKings is taking.

Robins said the appeal of prop bets is "just being able to participate in every moment of the game and have something cool that can happen in every moment of the game."

Related:

Callum Borchers Twitter Reporter
Callum covers the Greater Boston business community for Bostonomix.

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