Basketball legend Michael Jordan is taking an equity stake in American fantasy sports outfit DraftKings, joining the company’s board as a special adviser as more US states adopt legalised sports betting.

Mr Jordan, who owns the Charlotte Hornets NBA franchise, will serve as an adviser to the board on several initiatives, including strategy, product development, marketing and inclusion efforts, the company said in a statement. 

The size of his stake in the Boston-based group was not disclosed. Shares of DraftKings rose 9 per cent after the start of trading on Wednesday to $40.25.

Sports betting is currently legal in 18 US states, with another 11 implementing or considering legislation on the practice, according to the American Gaming Association.

Despite pandemic-imposed declines in the second quarter, total gross gaming revenue from US sports betting rose 10 per cent to $324m in the first six months of 2020, according to the AGA. Overall US gaming revenues are down 46 per cent over the same period.

DraftKings’ sports book is available in 10 states to date, including New Jersey, whose case before the Supreme Court in 2018 paved the way for state-by-state legalisation of sports gambling.

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DraftKings offers entertainment and fantasy sports products in addition to its sports book, spanning US and international sports. The company went public in April despite the uncertain market for professional sports, with many leagues shut down around the world because of the Covid-19 pandemic. It reported a loss of $142m on revenue of $323m for 2019, according to a filing.

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Mr Jordan is a well-known gambling aficionado whose passion for competitive pursuits was chronicled in a recent mini-series The Last Dance.

The basketball Hall of Fame member has in recent months expanded his public commitments, pledging $100m over the next decade through his eponymous, Nike-owned sneaker brand towards organisations supporting the black community.

Via Financial Times