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DraftKings, fresh off Michael Jordan deal, unveils Chicago Cubs alliance

DraftKings on Thursday announced an exclusive partnership with the Chicago Cubs, one day after the fantasy sports company and bookmaker detailed an alliance with another Windy City icon, Michael Jordan. 

Under the deal, DraftKings will be the Cubs’ official daily fantasy and sports betting partner. The company also will seek to establish a “first-of-its-kind sportsbook” at the Cubs’ 106-year-old Wrigley Field, according to a press release. Doing so requires approval by the city of Chicago. 

In an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street,” DraftKings co-founder Matt Kalish said the company hopes to work with Illinois regulators and local officials to bring the Wrigley sportsbook “to market as soon as we possibly can.”

DraftKings said it has eight retail sportsbooks in the U.S., including one in East St. Louis, Illinois. 

“We’re also really excited about the marketing aspect of the deal. You know, the Cubs are a storied franchise that’s beloved throughout the country, and especially in Illinois, which is one of the biggest, most important sports-betting markets in the country,” said Kalish, president of DraftKings’ North American operations. 

DraftKings announced partnerships with multiple NBA teams earlier this year. The tie-up with the Cubs is the latest example of how gambling is becoming more intertwined with professional sports as states across the U.S. legalize sports betting. As of mid-August, 22 states, plus the District of Columbia have legalized it, according to the American Gaming Association

Shares of DraftKings were down 4% Thursday to around $38. The pullback came after the stock rallied 8% Wednesday on the news that Jordan, one of the most prominent sports figure ever, will become a special advisor to DraftKings’ board of directors. 

“Who wouldn’t want Michael Jordan around the table advising you on strategy, talking with the board, helping with initiatives throughout our company? He’s obviously the top of probably everyone’s list of marketing geniuses, branding geniuses who you’d want to collaborate with,” Kalish said. “We’re just getting started, but I think it’s going to be a tremendous, additive piece to the overall success of DraftKings over the next several years.” 

Although Jordan’s role as chairman and owner of the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets may restrict him in some areas, Kalish said DraftKings intends to lean on the basketball legend as much as possible. 

“Every way that we can possibly work with Michael, in every aspect, we’re going to be doing that,” he said. 

Shares of DraftKings are up more than 250% this year. 

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