Fantasy Sports Companies Confronts A Cheating Scandal
Will users still be down with the DraftKings?
In The F&TS team doesn’t participate in daily fantasy leagues as of yet. We get our fix from season-long NFL Fantasy Football and Pick’em leagues (thankfully). When ESPN’s league management tools moved over to DraftKings, we had to sign up for the service. Today, DraftKings co-founders sent out a message to their users about allegations that could topple the titans of fantasy sports. The New York Times reported DraftKings is investigating whether an employee placed a bet on FanDuel using information not generally available to the public. If the allegations about this cheating scandal are true, the future of the two largest daily fantasy sports leagues is in severe doubt.
Cheaters Trying to Prosper
The New York Times wrote on Monday, “the two major fantasy companies were forced to release statements defending their businesses’ integrity after what amounted to allegations of insider trading, that employees were placing bets using information not generally available to the public.
So what exactly happened? An employee at DraftKings admitted last week to inadvertently releasing data before the start of NFL Week 3. Subsequently, Ethan Haskell, a DraftKings midlevel content manager, won $350,000 at a rival site, FanDuel, that same week. The episode raises questions about the integrity of daily fantasy employees with access to valuable data. Now the industry must decide how to protect that data. Plus, whether companies like DraftKings and FanDuel are willing to police themselves.
DraftKings and FanDuel released a joint statement to the media. It read, “both companies have strong policies in place to ensure that employees do not misuse any information at their disposal. “We strictly limit access to company data to only those employees who require it to do their jobs.”
It’s Like Insider Trading
The fact that Haskell had access to proprietary data raised questions about the fairness of employees winning jackpots at competing sites. Further, detractors and regulators are concerned about the general lack of regulation in a burgeoning multi-billion industry. Some critics have gone as far as calling daily fantasy legalized gambling. Consequently, the New York State Attorney General’s office opened an inquiry into the operations of both DraftKings and FanDuel. To sum up, does this potential Fantasy Sports cheating scandal change your mind about the leagues in any way? Will you continue to play?
The full DraftKings statement to its users read: