March Madness NFTs have arrived in the sports betting world
Sports betting company DraftKings is releasing its first in-house NFT collection this week centered around the NCAA’s March Madness tournament in what the company calls “a new opportunity to gamify the fan experience.”
The Boston-based digital gaming company will begin selling its College Hoops Collection on Wednesday. The first of the NFTs, titled “Going Dancin’” will sell for a flat $10 and only 6,464 of the collectibles are available. Each of the NFTs will feature an image of a cartoon basketball, whose appearance will change based on the type of NFT released at different times of the tournament.
DraftKings has been active in the NFT space for months, but this is the first time they are creating their own collection. Last August, DraftKings launched a marketplace where it sells NFTs from Autograph, a sports NFT company co-founded by NFL Star Tom Brady.
DraftKings appears to be using NFTs to try to expand their user base for sports betting. Over the span of the March Madness college basketball tournament, which lasts from March 15 to April 4, the company is planning eight different NFT collections at various price points. Each NFT holder will be eligible to receive “DK Dollars,” credits for the company’s website that can be put toward placing bets and entering pools, brackets, or fantasy contests during the tournament.
“Major sporting events are key moments where we engage fans through daily fantasy contests, sport betting and other gaming offerings, and now NFTs represent a new opportunity to gamify the fan experience while also integrating digital collectibles within our broader platform,” Parker Winslow, a spokesperson for DraftKings, told Fortune in an email.
NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are digital items like images, audio files or GIFs whose ownership is recorded in a virtual ledger called the blockchain. Over the last year, they have become increasingly integrated in several different markets, including sports. In 2022, NFT sales related to sports media will double to reach $2 billion in transactions on its own, according to consulting firm Deloitte.
Draftkings is planning future NFT collections for other major sports events, which could include the NBA Playoffs and the Super Bowl.
The company said it is also planning to release an NFT-based fantasy game ahead of the NFL season. The company is recruiting employees with crypto experience to the company through acquisitions and job postings, including for a senior Web3 engineer and a lead smart contract engineer.
“While we have made moves to directly bring blockchain, cryptocurrency and NFT experts onboard at DraftKings, such as our acquisition of Scarcity Labs last year, we also aim to be inclusive when it comes to talent. The crypto space is still so nascent and rapidly growing that we do not want to miss out on premier talent by focusing solely on crypto natives,” Beiriger said in a statement.
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