Experts in sports law had raised doubts that a DraftKings-FanDuel merger would ever pass antitrust muster ever since rumors about the deal emerged previous year.
But the federal government ruled last month it would fight the proposed FanDuel/DraftKings merger in court, authorizing its staff to file an injunction in federal court to halt any deal.
At least one of the merging parties has changed their mind at the last moment. FanDuel chief Nigel Eccles stated that "we have determined that it is in the best interest of our shareholders, customers, employees, and partners to terminate the merger agreement and move forward as an independent company", and DraftKings CEO Jason Robins stated basically the same thing.
Fantasy sports websites DraftKings and FanDuel announced Thursday they were calling off their planned merger, following opposition from United States antitrust regulators.
This marks a big win for interim FTC Chair Maureen Ohlhausen who has now won her first major suit to block a merger. DraftKings claims it has 8 million customers, while FanDuel reportedly has 6 million registered users.
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Daily fantasy sports companies FanDuel and DraftKings scrapped a plan to merge on Thursday following a legal challenge by USA antitrust enforcers.
DraftKings said the move will allow the company to focus on providing an "innovative and engaging interactive sports experience".
"FanDuel chose to merge with DraftKings last November, because we believed that this deal would have increased investment in growth and product development thereby benefiting consumers and the greater sports entertainment industry", FanDuel CEO Nigel Eccles said in his statement.
However, questions emerged about their business practices in 2015 when The New York Times discovered that DraftKings employee Evan Haskell won $350,000 on FanDuel.
The FTC argued that any potential efficiencies gained through the merger wouldn't offset the "likely competitive harm".
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DraftKings is the leader in daily fantasy golf while FanDuel recently added golf contests this year.
By abandoning a deal the companies had contended was critical to their future, DraftKings and FanDuel now return to the familiar - and costly - role of battling each other for the upper hand in the still young daily fantasy sports business.
Reuters reported on Thursday that the two companies will "terminate a planned merger after a legal challenge by USA antitrust enforcers".
They also both faced cash flow issues after a barrage of advertising to kick off the 2016 football season reportedly cost both companies hundreds of millions of dollars. Eccles said FanDuel's revenue continues to increase, telling Recode it could break even in 2018.
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