DraftKings plans to hire more than 200 workers within the next year for its newly opened Las Vegas office.
“This is an iconic city when it comes to sports betting,” said Matt Kalish, president and co-founder of DraftKings. “It’s been the hub of all of that activity in our country for many decades. We see ourselves as looking to integrate as deeply as possible into the community.”
Kalish made his comments Wednesday during a media tour of the company’s new office space at Town Square.
The Boston-based fantasy sports and gaming company has close to 70 employees in Las Vegas and more than 900 nationwide.
The Las Vegas workers handle customer service issues, sports book trading, fraud protection and other technical tasks.
After opening a small operation in Las Vegas with about a dozen employees in 2018, DraftKings moved into the new space — it leases from WeWork — on Monday. It has room for about 300 employees, officials said.
“The opportunities with sports betting keep opening up nationwide,” Kalish said. “We want to make sure we continue to lead the pack and, to do that, we needed to invest in Las Vegas and take advantage of some of the great talent that’s here in this market.”
One of the first local talents to come aboard was Johnny Avello, the former Wynn Las Vegas sports book director who was hired by DraftKings in 2018 to work in the same capacity.
“Finding this location, it’s been in the works for a long time and, to me, it’s perfect,” Avello said. “Town Square has great amenities and this is a great work environment. It’s also close to the airport for people who need to get in and out. Anywhere where sports betting is legal, we’re looking to be in that market.”
Founded in 2012, DraftKings announced plans last year to merge with two other firms — SBTech and Diamond Eagle Acquisition — and to go public sometime during the first half of 2020.
Kalish and two of his friends, Jason Robins and Paul Liberman, started the company out of a spare bedroom, but DraftKings quickly became a known brand as the popularity of fantasy sports combined with the loosening of sports rules in different parts of the country in recent years.
DraftKings’ fantasy — state regulators consider daily fantasy play a form of gaming — and sports book products are not currently allowed in Nevada because the company does not have a state gaming license.
To have an online sports book presence in Nevada, it’s required that bettors sign up for an online account — such as William Hill or the playMGM app — in person.
Since DraftKings doesn’t have a physical sports book in Nevada, that’s not possible.
“In New Jersey, for example, you can download DraftKings and just start playing,” Kalish said. “We’re a digital company, so we don’t have a casino in Las Vegas where people can go sign up. We’ve never had an urgency to go get a (Nevada) license because we didn’t have a way for consumers to get access to our product. We need to kind of solve that. We’d need a retail deal and we’re working on it.”
According to the company, its daily fantasy product is available in eight countries. Its sports book division offers mobile and retail betting in eight states.
DraftKings is also the official daily fantasy partner of the National Football League and the PGA Tour.
“DraftKings is in a great position,” Kalish said. “We have a ton of interest in the company because of our story. Everybody’s drawn in because of what’s going on with sports betting in the U.S. People want to change industries and change their career path to come work for us. I think we got 45,000 job applications last year.”