DraftKings Legal Chief Gets $6.4 Million on Sports Betting Surge

DraftKings Inc. legal chief R. Stanton Dodge is reaping the benefits of U.S. sports betting expansion, as he earned more than $6.4 million in 2021.

The Boston-based sports gaming company, which went public in 2020, disclosed Dodge’s total compensation in an annual proxy statement on Monday.

Dodge joined DraftKings as the top in-house lawyer in 2017, the year before the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal law that restricted sports betting. As of last month, more than 100 million Americans could legally bet on the Super Bowl.

DraftKings has partnerships with several North American sports leagues, including the NBA, NFL and Major League Baseball. It will soon host betting lines for the USFL, a Fox Sports Inc.-owned football reboot with trademark issues set to debut in April.

While the pay package for Dodge is down from the almost $56 million he received in 2020, the disparity is mostly attributable to the nearly $53.5 million in stock awards he received during that fiscal year to align the compensation of him and other senior DraftKings executives to its long-term growth as a public company.

DraftKings spokesman James Chisholm confirmed that Dodge’s 2020 remuneration was an outlier.

Dodge currently owns DraftKings shares valued at nearly $7 million, according to Bloomberg data. Securities filings show that within the past year, Dodge has sold off more than $39.4 million in DraftKings stock.

DraftKings is one of several companies competing in an increasingly crowded U.S. sports betting landscape as cash-hungry leagues look for sponsorships.

Media companies are also pushing into the space, as numerous states have dropped online betting bans, despite some regulatory delays. New York legalized online sports betting in January, opening up another major U.S. market.

New Hires

DraftKings and FanDuel Inc., a rival owned by Dublin-based Flutter Entertainment PLC, have been busy over the past year recruiting lawyers to grow their legal and compliance teams.

In February, DraftKings hired a pair of new litigation counsel in Thomas Fulford and John Nucci, both of whom had previously been associates at Boston-based law firms Prince Lobel Tye and Nystrom Beckman & Paris, respectively.

DraftKings also added last year corporate counsel Nicholas Maida, a former capital markets associate at Cravath, Swaine & Moore in New York, and government affairs counsel John Mohrmann.

DraftKings did see former general counsel Tim Parilla, the company’s first-ever in-house lawyer, depart last year to become the top lawyer for legal technology startup LinkSquares Inc.

Justin Stempeck, a former associate general counsel with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission who was a director of licensing at DraftKings, also left last year to become chief strategy officer for Compliable, an automated licensing platform that helps U.S. sportsbooks develop their online business.

DraftKings is currently wrapping up its annual review period and in the process of finalizing promotions and other potential internal legal changes, said Chisholm, the company spokesman.

Stock Price

The stock price for DraftKings has fluctuated over the past two years, as a short seller criticized the company’s acquisition of sports betting technology supplier SBTech Global Ltd.

Sullivan & Cromwell is advising DraftKings in securities litigation related to that deal, a three-way merger with a blank check company that took DraftKings public.

DraftKings saw its share price plunge in mid-February after the company announced financial results that underwhelmed Wall Street.

The company, which in October called off plans for a $22.4 billion combination with British betting house Entain PLC, closed in December on its $1.6 billion acquisition of billionaire Tilman Fertitta’s Golden Nugget Online Gaming Inc. Sullivan & Cromwell represented DraftKings on that deal.