Belfast Telegraph

Online fantasy game FanDuel that made Tyrone man mega-rich coming to UK

By Claire McNeilly

The Northern Ireland tycoon behind online fantasy sports phenomenon FanDuel has revealed plans to bring a new version of his hit US game to the UK.

Nigel Eccles said the launch of FanDuel UK was being timed to coincide with the start of the Premier League season in August.

Cookstown native Eccles also said the foray into the local market could be just the beginning of significant investment here.

In an exclusive interview with the Belfast Telegraph today, the multi-millionaire businessman outlined his plans to tailor FanDuel for football fans in the British market.

"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. "We're targeting for this coming Premier League season in August. It will be a one-day fantasy sports product."

Eccles (41), who grew up on a dairy farm in Co Tyrone, developed FanDuel just over six years ago.

It is an online fantasy sports game focused on American football, basketball, ice-hockey and baseball.

Players build up teams that can play head-to-head challenges, or compete in a league with up to 125,000 teams, for prizes or cash.

The company, based in Edinburgh and New York, is now valued at $1.3bn. More than six million people, mostly in north America, have registered to play and, last year alone, the company shelled out $1bn in winnings.

But only eight years ago Eccles was staring at the debris of his first, failed, foray into business and wondering where the next pound was coming from.

Undeterred - and despite having a large mortgage and three young children to look after - he and his wife Lesley (42) sank all their savings into developing their fledgling FanDuel idea.

As Edinburgh-based Eccles revealed to this newspaper, he and Lesley took no salary for a year and a half, driven only by their belief in the product and the fact that everything they had was invested in it.

The subsequent success - and pay-off - was, however, beyond their expectations.

Belfast Telegraph