By KiII love fantasy football. I play in three season long leagues and enter multiple daily fantasy contests each week. One league is in its 26th season and easily could have been the basis for the cult classic TV series The League (highlights include kicking someone out for trying to trade two buckets of chicken wings for Emmitt Smith and two best friends not speaking for a year over cheating allegations surrounding playoff tie-breaks). I have always done well in season long fantasy, turned a profit as a sports better, and happen to be an above average tournament poker player (have multiple WSOP cashes to my name) so daily fantasy caught my eye. I figured combining my fantasy football knowledge with some concepts from tournament poker and some professional analytics would give me a shot to be competitive. And I love the additional action. Don’t get me wrong – I know the pros have a good edge but the action is addicting.
As it turns out I’ve done okay against the pros, last year I had a big score and took down 1st place for $50,000 on DraftKings (thank you Leveon Bell). While I haven’t had any other big scores, I have been profitable away from the $50K win.
On Monday, the world went crazy with “insider trading” allegations against employees at DraftKings. While nothing has been proven the accusation is that a DraftKings employee had access to weekly usage data on DK and used that info to influence his roster in a FanDuel contest where he won $350,000. This is not the place to have a legal debate around insider trading but there is no denying that this scandal has put the daily fantasy industry in a not so flattering spotlight. Questions swirl around its legal status and its lack of regulation; politicians are calling for hearings and launching investigations; and opportunistic lawyers are organizing class actions suits.So why am I writing this instead of preparing my daily fantasy lineups for today? I want this industry to survive and it will only survive with change. Management and ownership of these sites need to see empirically that they need to make changes to regain the public trust. If entries are down post this scandal, this will get them to quickly embrace the change they need to make to regain everyone’s trust. Daily fantasy needs to be regulated just like any other form of gambling. If the likes of DraftKings and FanDuel cooperate there is a chance it happens smoothly. Otherwise it could go the way of online poker – a state-by-state clusterf*ck. To date, the rhetoric from DK and FD has been defensive in nature (unlike Amaya who is all for regulation of daily fantasy). While I am just one player, I am voting with my wallet, not playing DraftKings today, and hoping DraftKings and FanDuel get the message – if you want consumers to trust you with their money you must go overboard to make them feel safe. You have failed in doing that so now it’s time to take the big step and encourage regulation.