Fantasy Advice

FanDuel & DraftKings Amend Employee Policy on Playing for Money

By October 6, 2015February 15th, 2016No Comments
DraftKings and FanDuel Scandal 2015

FanDuel and DraftKings, two of the leading companies in the daily fantasy industry, have been pushed to provide further details on how much access their employees have to data and to amend their employee policies. This comes after The New York Times reported that Ethan Haskell, a "midlevel content manager" at DraftKings, won $350,000 playing in a FanDuel contest during week 3 of the NFL season.

Prior to this news, the policy of both companies was that employees were forbidden from playing for money at their company. Following the scandal both companies have placed an "interim ban" on employees taking part "in online fantasy sports contests for money."

Many people expressed concern over the possibility that Ethan Haskell used "insider information" using DraftKing's data to make lineup decisions on FanDuel. They denied this based on their internal investigation and their official response is below.

Haskell prematurely published information on how frequently NFL players were owned in "Millionaire Makers" games during week 3.

Many fantasy analysts have said that knowing that information prior to games starting can provide a potential advantage by allowing that person to build a more "unique" lineup.

DraftKings Response

On Monday, October 6, 2015, DraftKings denied (via an official statement) that Ethan Haskell used the information to set his winning lineup. Their statement was:

"For the last several days, DraftKings has been conducting a thorough investigation, including examining records of internal communications and access to our database, interviewing our employees, and sharing information regarding the incident with FanDuel.

"The evidence clearly shows that the employee in question did not receive the data on player utilization until 1:40 p.m. ET on Sunday, September 27. Lineups on FanDuel locked at 1:00 p.m. that day, at which point this employee (along with every other person playing in a FanDuel contest) could no longer edit his player selections.

"This clearly demonstrates that this employee could not possibly have used the information in question to make decisions about his FanDuel lineup. Again, there is no evidence that any information was used to create an unfair advantage, and any insinuations to the contrary are factually incorrect."

Concern About Employees Playing Daily Fantasy Sports

In response to pushback from customers, fans and partners, DraftKings, FanDuel and the Fantasy Sports Trade Association (FSTA) announced in a joint statement that employees can no longer take part in online fantasy contests for money. Their statement is below:

"The Fantasy Sports Trade Association (FSTA), DraftKings and FanDuel have always understood that nothing is more important than the integrity of the games we offer to fans. For that reason, the FSTA has included in its charter that member companies must restrict employee access to and use of competitive data for play on other sites.

"At this time, there is no evidence that any employee or company has violated these rules. That said, the inadvertent release of non-public data by a fantasy operator employee has sparked a conversation among fantasy sports players about the extent to which industry employees should be able participate in fantasy sports contests on competitor sites.

"We’ve heard from users that they would appreciate more clarity about the rules for this issue. In the interim, while the industry works to develop and release a more detailed policy, DraftKings and FanDuel have decided to prohibit employees from participating in online fantasy sports contests for money."

Do you think employees of daily fantasy sites should be able to take part on competitors sites? 

Nick Schreck