Disney owns millions of shares of DraftKings. It also operates one of its most iconic theme parks in California, Disneyland. That creates a natural curiosity: Could those two brands join forces in the future?
In theory, absolutely. There are many reasons why it may not happen, however. The details of the circumstances point toward it being doubtful.
How a DraftKings sportsbook at Disney would be possible
In order for that to become reality, a specific set of events would have to unfold. First off, California would have to legalize sports betting within its borders.
That might be inevitable. CA voters might approve at least one amendment to the state Constitution this November that would allow for legal wagering.
That legal framework would have to allow for retail sportsbooks at places like Disneyland as well. Additionally, DraftKings would have to express interest in operating a brick-and-mortar sportsbook at the park.
The chances of that would likely improve if Disney decides to hang on to its shares in DraftKings, currently valued at $364 million. That isn’t a foregone conclusion right now.
Even if the state allowed and DraftKings was interested, Disney would have to decide having a land-based sportsbook at the park was worth the investment.
While Disney is best known for its amusements tailored to children, it’s not an exclusively kid-friendly space. Disneyland boasts bars, up-scale restaurants, spas and other amenities marketed to adults.
Because of Disney’s shares in DraftKings, the company can’t legally invest in competing sportsbook brands. If it does open a retail sportsbook at Disneyland, it would be a DraftKings space.
As clear as the path to this opportunity is, it’s most likely never going to happen. There are several factors at play to make this situation improbable at best.
Why Disneyland will probably not host a DraftKings sportsbook
First off, it’s unlikely that Disney is going to hold onto its shares of DraftKings, Disney didn’t go out and buy those shares of the company after it went public.
Disney’s acquisition of DraftKings stock actually came as a result of its acquisition of 21st Century Fox. More likely than not, Disney will sell off most if not all of the stock.
Even if it does hold on to the shares, that’s no guarantee that Disney will get into the sports betting business. Disney makes most of its money off its family-friendly reputation, and gambling could be viewed as contrary to those interests.
Should Disney hold on to the stock and express interest, that is no guarantee the state will cooperate. In most jurisdictions, there are strict regulations against legal gambling in spaces that cater to minors.
Because of that, it’s unlikely the state would grant Disney a license to operate a sportsbook at Disneyland. Disney could theoretically be part of a sportsbook operation at another site, but not at the park.
For all these reasons, dreams of putting down a bet on an Anaheim Ducks game after you exit Pirates of the Caribbean will probably remain just a dream. On the other hand, Disneyland is all about making dreams come true.