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Axios / Rebecca Zisser

Fantasy sports sites DraftKings and FanDuel yesterday said that they will terminate their proposed merger, following the objection of federal antitrust regulators. Axios spoke with DraftKings CEO Jason Robins about his surprise at the FTC decision, why his company pulled the plug and what it now knows about its renewed rival:

Why terminate the merger?

"I can't speak for FanDuel but, for us there were a number of different factors. The biggest was that we liked where we're at in our business and what we think we can accomplish as a standalone. We signed the deal and planned on honoring it, but this removes all the risks of integration and culture meshing and the other risks of doing a merger.

If you look at when we signed the original term sheet, the two companies were similarly-sized. We're not anymore. We're substantially bigger than FanDuel. At the time we were experiencing all sorts of new and challenging regulatory pushback, but now the threats feel a lot less dire and just a part of doing business in what's become a regulated industry. Our lobbying bills are a lot lower than they were at the time, and we're very well capitalized with revenue back up to 30% to 40% and climbing with much lower burn."

Initial reaction to FTC action?

"I was pretty surprised. Obviously I'm not intimately familiar with the legal side of these things and have never gone through a major anti-trust review but, looking at it more from a consumer standpoint, I thought the consensus was pretty clear that this was going to be a good thing for fantasy sports and its customers. And I still believe that it would have been."

What did the two rivals learn about each other?

"I don't think we really know that much more about each other, but really just got validation of things we'd already observed. We certainly do know the personalities a bit better, but for legal reasons we couldn't get into things like product roadmaps or partnering contracts."

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Democrats' billionaires tax explained

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

There is now legislative language behind the push to tax American billionaires on unrealized capital gains, as Sen. Ron Wyden last night released his 107-page plan.

Why it matters: This would be a sea change in U.S. tax policy, which has only applied to realized gains (otherwise known as income).

4 hours ago - World

Scoop: Blinken protests Israel settlements approval in "tense" phone call

Benny Gantz (L) and Tony Blinken. Photo: Jacquelyn Martin/Pool/AFP via Getty

Secretary of State Tony Blinken protested the decision to approve 3,000 new housing units in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank during a tense phone call on Tuesday with Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, three Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: This is the first time new construction in the settlements has been approved since President Biden assumed office, and the Biden administration had been privately pressing the Israeli government not to proceed.

The startup that wants to disrupt big internet providers

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

A new startup backed by funding from AOL founder Steve Case and Laurene Powell Jobs wants to break up broadband monopolies across the country.

Why it matters: Internet access has been crucial during the pandemic, but it's not ubiquitous, and it can be both slow and unaffordable in swaths of the country.