I first learned about it from industry friends, who pointed to a story in today’s New York Times. The story originally broke in a discussion forum at Rotogrinders.com.
It seems a Draft Kings employee who writes about ownership percentages (how many Draft Kings players rostered particular NFL players in any given week) at Draft Kings finished second in a Week 3 contest at FanDuel and took home $350,000.
This same DK employee had accidentally published the ownership percentages before the DK games had locked that same week, demonstrating that some individuals have access. This wasn’t known before.
Big fantasy tournaments have thousands of entries, and there is a competitive advantage in avoiding commonly-rostered players. So the first question is whether the employee was using his Draft Kings information at FanDuel?
The second question is who actually has access to his information and, while they’re not allowed to play on the sites they work for, do they use it to play on other sites?
The answers are, perhaps not unsurprisingly, murky. Daily fantasy sports is an unregulated (so far) business. And while that seems likely to change, for now players are reliant on their trust of the game makers themselves.
The website legalsportsreport.com has an excellent What we know now about the situation, which attempts to answer all the questions raised here.
It’s hard for me to believe that these games are intentionally crooked. There seems to be too much money to be made for them to cut corners, but it is also true that if there is a way to get an advantage somehow someone is going to figure it out and take it. Which is why the legal gambling industry works hard to maintain a squeaky clean reputation. Trust is important.
Trust is unraveling in DFS, today, and the operators are going to have to work to earn it back.