The lawsuits keep piling up against daily fantasy sports sites. The latest actually comes from someone who has indirectly benefited from fantasy football, Washington Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garcon. First reported by The Washington Post, Garcon filed a class-action lawsuit against DFS site FanDuel on Friday on behalf of all NFL players.
One may wonder why a player whose league owes much of its popularity to fantasy sports and sports betting would sue a DFS website. The answer is likely as simply as “money,” but according to the 21-page complaint, Garcon is upset that FanDuel has used his and other players’ likenesses without permission or payment. The lawsuit opens:
In the operation and sale of its online fantasy football gaming product, FanDuel knowingly and improperly exploits the popularity and performance of Garcon, along with all the other National Football League (“NFL”) players at offensive skilled positions without their authority or a valid license. In addition, through a comprehensive television advertising campaign, Defendant FanDuel routinely uses the names and likenesses of some of these NFL players without authorization to promote FanDuel’s commercial enterprise, collecting huge revenues from entry fees, without the authority of Mr. Garçon or the other NFL players.
And why FanDuel instead of its main rival DraftKings? At the end of September, DraftKings inked a licensing agreement with the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) which specifically allows NFL players to appear in DraftKings ad campaigns. New England Patriots star tight end Rob Gronkowski already had his own deal with DraftKings and was happy the NFLPA got involved, saying, “Adding players into the marketing of DraftKings makes daily fantasy gaming more real. Fans get to see more of our personality and not just our stats.”
Of course, other DFS sites like Yahoo!, StarsDraft, and FantasyHub also use the names and likenesses of NFL players in their fantasy sports offerings, but they don’t run television commercials 24/7 like FanDuel and DraftKings and are not nearly as big. FanDuel is any easy target.
Pierre Garcon’s agent, Brad Cicala, issued a statement to The Washington Post on his client’s behalf:
I am bringing this lawsuit against FanDuel for using my name, image, and likeness in both daily fantasy contests and through advertising on TV ads and infomercials. FanDuel has taken the liberty to engage in these actions without my consent and without proper licensing rights. As a result of these activities, FanDuel daily fantasy contests have shown increasing revenues leading to large profits. Therefore, on behalf of myself as well as any other players who are being treated unjustly, I chose to file a complaint.
Half of the NFL’s 32 teams have a marketing relationship with FanDuel, including Garcon’s own Washington Redskins. Garcon himself used to have a marketing relationship with the site, as well; he would post tweets encouraging his followers to sign-up for the site. The deal with FanDuel ended late last season and Garcon says it has nothing to do with this lawsuit.