January 21, 2021

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DraftKings Now Allows Betting on Drone Races in Certain States

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Lockheed Martin drones are on display during the 2019 SXSW Trade Show on March 12, 2019 in Austin, Texas. The company partnered with The Drone Racing League (DRL) on the AlphaPilot Innovation Challenge, challenging teams of students, coders and technologists to develop, test and race high-speed, self-flying drones.
Photo: Suzanne Cordeiro (Getty Images)

So far, 21st-century tech hasn’t quite lived up to all that sci-fi tropes promised. But while everyone may not have flying cars or their own holodeck yet, you can now bet on drone races from your phone in certain states, and I think that’s pretty dang futuristic.

The Drone Racing League announced an exclusive deal with sports betting company DraftKings this week to allow betting on drone races for residents of Colorado, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Tennessee, and West Virginia. Regulatory approval is pending for bringing the practice to additional states, the companies said. The deal also gives DraftKings exclusive marketing and betting rights for the league.

In league races, drone pilots with a first-person view of the action compete for prizes for whoever can zip their drone through a course the fastest. Each drone, which is designed and built by the DRL so that every racer has an identical model, is equipped with cameras that stream a live video feed to the pilot’s VR goggles. The drones cost roughly $2,000 apiece and can reach speeds of up to 90 mph (144 kph), per CNBC.

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“The sky is now the limit for DRL fans to get skin in the game, and we’re thrilled to partner with DraftKings to transform our high-speed race competition into the ultimate sport to bet on,” said DRL President Rachel Jacobson in a statement. “The opportunity for us to elevate our engagement through all forms of gaming and gambling will only increase as mobile betting becomes more adopted across the country.”

Other terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, and neither was the size of the payoffs given to DRL competitors. But, as CNBC notes, drone racers competed for a $100,000 prize in a 2017 tournament.

DraftKings and DRL have been negotiating a partnership since October, according to Forbes. DraftKings released the first free-to-play pool in November to test the waters, which drew more than 150,000 entrants.

Residents of the aforementioned states can bet on drone races in real-time on their phones, and DRL and DraftKings said they plan to host pre-flight shows ahead of live events with further details on how to participate. The first races available for users to bet on kicked off this weekend as part of the 2020 DRL Allianz World Championship Season.

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