Over the last year, we have seen non-fungible tokens (NFTs) grow at an exponential rate. Luxury fashion houses like Dolce & Gabbana have adopted the technology. So have fashion icons like Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell. In 2021, Moss and Campbell featured in an NFT collection sold by German photographer Ellen von Unwerth. Spanning lots of entertainment and creative uses, NFTs have also moved into the art industry.

Bands like Kings of Leon have also embraced the technology, becoming the first band to sell their album in 2021 as an NFT. As impressive as this is, perhaps no industry has welcomed NFTs like the sports industry.

Sports NFTs have pushed into the mainstream in many ways, including athletes like Premier League star Son Heung-min signing licensing agreements with NFT platforms. The owner of the New York Mets also used his venture fund to lead a $50 million Serie A funding round for NFT technology company Recur.

Sports betting, too, has accepted NFTs. One of the latest examples came on December 7th, 2021, when news broke that the NFL, DraftKings, and NFLPA licensing partner OneTeam Partners plan to launch gamified NFT collections. Gamified NFTs are still new in the United States, but these collections will debut on the DraftKings Marketplace during the NFL’s 2022/2023 season.

What Are The Details Of The Deal?

This agreement grants DraftKings the licensing rights to every active player in the NFL. DraftKings is a Boston-based company and leader in the digital fantasy and online sports betting markets. According to the review site CasinoSmash, it is also one of the few platforms that offer exclusive casino no deposit bonuses. By acquiring the licensing rights, DraftKings gets access to the name, likeness, and image of everyone from Tom Brady to George Kittle.

That is pretty impressive for a company that, as per the review site, started in 2012 as a daily fantasy sports site before turning into one of the best in the sportsbook and online casino business. For perspective, in Q3 2021, DraftKings saw a 60% year-over-year growth in revenue to $213 million.

According to the press release, customers will be able to use the player NFTs in games against others on the DraftKings Marketplace. They will also have purchasing and selling functionality. The NFTs will be backed by Polygon, a blockchain software built on Ethereum.

Why Should We Care?

This partnership between DraftKings and the NFL marks another milestone in their relationship after the NFL revealed its first sports betting partnership with DraftKings in April. It is also the league’s latest embrace of cryptocurrency and blockchain after being skeptical in the past.

Yet, we can’t ignore how this partnership is also a sign of the times. Over the last year, crypto, blockchain, online casinos, and sportsbooks have become considered reputable partners for sports leagues and teams. For instance, a few Premier League teams, including Wolverhampton Wanderers, have crypto exchanges as their official sleeve sponsors. Formula 1 racing has also moved into crypto, partnering with one of the world’s fastest-growing platforms in 2021.

Gamified NFTs were bound to be everyone’s next target, but it makes sense to see the NFL, the NFLPA, and DraftKings getting the ball rolling. The NFLPA is one of the most respected athlete unions in the world. DraftKings is a leader in sports entertainment. The question is, are you going to check out the  NFTs when they debut on DraftKings next year?

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