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DraftKings Casino is keeping the pedal to the metal when it comes to exclusive content. Today, it announced the release of its latest casino game, simply titled Rocket.
Differentiation will be key in the ever-more-crowded US online casino market. DraftKings’ strategy in that regard has largely been to focus on developing its own games in house.
On one level, Rocket is simply a continuation of that trend. However, it also intersects with another, more recent strategy of DraftKings’, which is to watch the cryptocurrency and NFT spaces for ideas. The connection may not be apparent on the surface, but Rocket is based on a concept that has its origins with unregulated cryptocurrency casinos.
As far as Online Poker Report can discern, this represents the first time the game has made its way into a legal and regulated real money casino, at least in the US. A DraftKings representative did not immediately respond to a request for confirmation of this.
DraftKings VP of iGaming, Jason March, said in a press release:
By developing DraftKings Rocket, our team continues to innovate our Casino offerings as we set out to create an all new, one-of-a-kind iGaming experience for customers. We’re thrilled to be providing an exclusive iGaming experience to DraftKings customers. At DraftKings, a customer-first approach is essential to our products, and the addition of DraftKings Rocket is sure to provide a new and exciting way for customers to wager with peer-to-peer interaction.
At the moment, DraftKings Rocket is available only in on DraftKings Casino New Jersey. The company says it will soon arrive in Michigan and West Virginia, pending regulatory approval. There’s no mention of Pennsylvania in the press release, which may mean that the game is incompatible with that state’s regulations.
Most of DraftKings’ custom titles to date have been cosmetic variations on classic casino games. For instance, Retro Blackjack, Baseball Blackjack and Pride Blackjack (among others) are all identical to each other and to standard casino blackjack, save for their graphical presentation.
More recently, it has been experimenting with new or uncommon rule sets. Spanish 21 is a blackjack variant usually only seen in retail casinos. Four 20s Blackjack is a four-handed DraftKings original with a side bet option which makes a not-so-subtle reference to 420, a slang expression for cannabis.
Rocket, however, is the first non-slots product developed by DraftKings that isn’t directly inspired by a traditional casino game. As mentioned, it is a clone of a game that’s become popular at certain unregulated online casinos.
Casino users tend not to have much attention span for learning new games. Fortunately, DraftKings Rocket is a very simple concept. It also has a social element in that multiple players are betting on the same game, as they would on a single spin of a traditional roulette wheel.
Players choose their wager as they would any other game, then wait for the next round to begin. They watch as a rocket takes off and begins to sail upwards, with an ever-increasing multiplier. A player can choose to bail out at any time, receiving the amount of their wager times the multiplier. However, the rocket can explode at any moment, with any players still aboard losing their bets.
If the rocket reaches a 1000x multiplier, the game ends and any players still aboard will receive that maximum payout. The maximum bet is $1000, so in principle players have the opportunity to win up to $1 million.
Players needn’t worry about not being fast enough to cash out at the time of their choosing. The game provides the option to set one’s own maximum multiplier, and to cash out automatically at that point. Those using this option can still manually cash out earlier. They can also set the game to auto-bet on multiple consecutive launches, to avoid the risk of missing one.
Players also see the point at which other users bailed out, adding a sense of camaraderie and friendly competition. The rocket continues to fly until it crashes, even once all players have bailed, so everyone can see what they could have won if they’d stayed aboard.
It’s no coincidence that the game DraftKings Rocket takes its inspiration from is popular among cryptocurrency users. The theme is a reference to the popular phrase to the moon! and the associated rocket ship emoji. Crypto enthusiasts employ these to indicate that a given currency is skyrocketing in value, or that they expect it to in the near future. The game’s mechanics even resemble the boom-and-crash cycle of cryptocurrencies.
DraftKings alludes this in the final sentence of the game’s tutorial on its website:
Now it’s time to get on your rocket and see if you can ride it to the moon!
Cryptocurrency has no place in US regulated gambling at the moment, nor will it in the foreseeable future. The US government doesn’t recognize Bitcoin or other forms of crypto as legitimate currencies, so regulated casinos cannot accept it as payment.
That said, cryptocurrency speculation and sports betting are both popular with the same demographic of young, mostly white males. That same demographic forms the core of DraftKings’ user base. Like Four 20s Blackjack, Rocket seems to be an attempt to get on board with youth culture and avoid the stodgy, outdated image of many pure casino companies.
It’s not the only move DraftKings has made towards the crypto space, either. Just a month ago it launched its marketplace for sports-themed non fungible tokens. These digital collectables use similar technology to cryptocurrency, and are popular with the same crowd.