Internet entrepreneur from Cookstown has website valued at over $1billion

FanDuel CEO and co-founder, Nigel Eccles
FanDuel CEO and co-founder, Nigel Eccles

A Cookstown-born internet business mogul has just seen his company valued at over $1 billion.

Nigel Eccles, who now divides his time between Edinburgh and New York, and his Scottish wife, Lesley, started FanDuel in 2009. The couple met at St Andrews University in 1995.

Nigel Eccles, CEO of FanDuel

Nigel Eccles, CEO of FanDuel

After this he joined a London betting startup that was later acquired by online gambling firm Betfair.

While little known in this country, in the US 1.1 million people use the FanDuel website to try and win prize money from a multi-million dollar pot as they put their skills to the test in the fantasy game market. In 2014 alone, $500 million was paid out in winnings.

FanDuel covers the four professional US sports, American football, baseball, basketball and ice hockey, as well as college basketball and college football.

In the US online betting is not legal but because FanDuel is fantasy it means that it is viewed as a game of skill, not a game of chance.

An external company tracks the scores of the actual players on the field while competitors can track their roster’s scores on their mobile or desktop site.

FanDuel is set for major expansion after raising $275m (£176m) in a funding round which attracted high-profile investors such as Google Capital, Time Warner Investments, and Turner Sports.

It is an extraordinary 21st century story of how the internet can enable you to create a multi-million turnover company almost overnight.

In total FanDuel employs some 150 people but it is aiming to increase that figure to 250 by the end of the year to increase their share of the 41 million fantasy sports players in the US.