Daily fantasy sports (DFS) leaders DraftKings and FanDuel reached settlements with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office last week after AG Maura Healey completed an investigation into the companies’ alleged unfair and deceptive business practices. Each company will pay $1.3 million, with the money going to consumer protection and an AG’s Office program to “engage young people in technology.”
The investigation had to do with practices by the companies prior to DFS regulations taking effect on July 1st of last year. The Attorney General’s Office did not specify exactly what the specific business practices were that were in question, instead saying in a press release “that some participants in daily fantasy sports contests were not adequately protected and that comprehensive consumer-protective regulation was needed.”
The investigation likely had a lot to do with the way DraftKings and FanDuel advertised starting with their marketing explosion prior to the 2015 NFL season. Not only were sports fans (and even non-sports fans) inundated with commercial after commercial for the two rivals, but DraftKings and FanDuel were both criticized for making it look like it was easy for lots of people to win money playing daily fantasy sports. As we know, most players are net losers and it is the elite, high volume, deep pocketed professional fantasy players who rake in the lion’s share of the prize money.
The Attorney General may have also been investigating how the sites advertised their deposit bonuses. Those who play poker know how these types of bonuses generally work, but fantasy players who are unfamiliar likely saw things like “we’ll match your deposit up to $500!” as some sort of instant money doubler, when in reality, the bonus would be released in tiny increments.
“I am glad to have reached these settlements to address various consumer issues that existed at the early stages of this new industry,” said AG Healey in the press release. “We have since implemented a set of comprehensive regulations that provide consumers with broad-ranging protections and that have served as a model for many other states.”
The AG’s Office said that both DraftKings and FanDuel cooperated with investigators “and have made significant changes to their business models to protect consumers with respect to gameplay fairness, protections for minors, responsible gaming requirements, fairness in advertising, and data and funds security.”
FanDuel reacted to the settlement with the following public statement:
We have worked closely with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office in their review of fantasy sports, including their issuance of the first set of consumer protection regulations for our industry, which we were pleased to comply with since their inception in 2016. FanDuel has worked tirelessly to pass laws in 16 states that solidify the fantasy sports industry and implement many of these same important consumer protections. FanDuel’s efforts have ensured that sports fans are able to continue playing the games they love in a safe, regulated environment and as we head into this football season, we look forward to continuing these efforts.
DraftKings also issued a statement to the media through its general counsel, Tim Parilla, which essentially echoes that of FanDuel. It reads, in part, “As the Attorney General said, this agreement resolves prior issues that were addressed through new regulations and DraftKings’ implementation of the industry’s most comprehensive compliance and game integrity programs. We are proud of the responsible environment we have created for our consumers and grateful to the Attorney General for working with us throughout this process.”
Featured photo credit: Andrew Dupont via Flickr