On Tuesday, Bally’s shuttered Monkey Knife Fight a little more than two years after paying $90 million for the fantasy sports platform — a deal that will go down as one of the bigger corporate missteps in legalized gambling history.
We’re gonna miss you
Drop your favorite MKF memory in the comments pic.twitter.com/HwVl3qslZh
— Monkey Knife Fight (@mkf) February 28, 2023
Founded in 2018 by Bill Asher, the company quickly became the third most popular daily fantasy sports site behind FanDuel and DraftKings. Instead of a salary cap-style game, contestants played “against the house” and would choose over/under combinations in an effort to win money.
Monkey Knife Fight was legal in 37 states at the time of the Bally’s purchase, and the gaming company was bullish on the DFS site’s future.
“Bally’s acquisition of MKF is the latest step in the Company’s long-term growth and diversification strategy to become the first truly vertically integrated sports betting and iGaming company in the U.S. with a B2B2C business model,” read the press release put out by Bally’s after the purchase in January 2021.
The release noted that Bally’s thought Monkey Knife Fight would “support Bally’s plans to develop a potential sports bettors database in states such as California, Florida, and Texas, which are expected to account for 20-25% of U.S. sports betting revenues (according to Wall Street analyst research estimates). It will also enable Bally’s to build a player database in Canada, a market that is expected to authorize sports betting in the near future.”
Of course, things didn’t exactly work out as planned. California, Florida, and Texas still remain on the sports betting sidelines, and Bally’s itself has hit numerous speed bumps in its sports betting efforts.
A new CEO, Robeson Reeves, has pledged to turn around the company’s struggling interactive unit. Meanwhile, Bally’s is searching for a new tech platform to replace Bet.Works, which Bally’s purchased for $125 million in 2020.
Before shutting down Monkey Knife Fight, there was talk that the company would seek to sell it at a discount. Apparently, there were no takers.
Photo: Marcos del Mazo/Getty Images
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