Belfast Telegraph

New York state approval for Cookstown fantasy sport firm

By John Mulgrew

A company involved in a fantasy sports game has been given the go-ahead to operate in New York state.

FanDuel, which was founded by Cookstown business tycoon Nigel Eccles six years ago, is valued at $1.3bn (£900m).

The company had been banned from operating in New York state since March, but officials have now voted to reverse that decision.

FanDuel is an online fantasy sports game focused on American football, basketball, ice hockey and baseball. It is currently based in Edinburgh.

More than six million people - most of them in North America - have registered to play the game, and last year alone the company shelled out $1bn (£700m) in winnings.

Players build up teams that can play in head-to-head challenges or compete in a league that includes up to 125,000 teams for prizes or for cash. There are also reports that FanDuel could be in talks with Boston-based DraftKings over a possible merger.

In an interview with the Belfast Telegraph earlier this year, Mr Eccles, who grew up on a dairy farm in Co Tyrone, revealed that his company was planning to bring a new version of the game here.

He explained that the launch of FanDuel UK was being timed to coincide with the start of the Premier League football season in August.

"We're planning on launching a UK version of FanDuel this summer, and that would obviously be marketed to Northern Ireland as well," he said.

Belfast Telegraph