DraftKings Lineup Leak Rocks Each day Fantasy Sports activities Business: Questions And Solutions

That is an actively edited and up to date story that’s evolving as new data emerges. Final up to date 1151AM PDT on October 19.

The leaking of participant lineup information at daily fantasy sportsbook website DraftKings has sparked a nationwide dialog spanning worker entry to delicate participant information, sport integrity, and the effectiveness of operators self-policing within the DFS {industry}.

DFS Report was first to report on the difficulty, which was initially famous in a Rotogrinders thread.

The worker in query was cleared of any wrongdoing in a third-party evaluate that was launched on October 19.

The story, in a nutshell

Listed here are the broad strokes of #DKLeak:

  • On September 27, a DraftKings worker inadvertently launched information relating to DraftKings’ greatest contest — the Millionaire Maker — previous to the beginning of a few of the NFL video games concerned within the contest. The information leak was famous that very same day on DFS group RotoGrinders.
  • The information confirmed the prevalence of explicit gamers throughout all submitted lineups for the competition. This sort of information is posted repeatedly, however by no means till all video games in a given contest have began and all lineups are finalized.
  • Entry to this sort of information may present a DFS participant with a big edge over gamers missing such information.
  • The worker who posted the DraftKings information early — DraftKings written content material supervisor Ethan Haskell — received USD350,000 at FanDuel the week of the information leak. There isn’t any indication, proof, or formal accusation that Haskell’s win was in any manner associated to his entry to information, neither is there any proof that Haskell had entry to information at some extent that will have offered him with a bonus within the FanDuel contests that week. DraftKings has explicitly asserted that Haskell was not within the place to take advantage of any benefit on account of his entry to the information. Haskell has usually denied any wrongdoing.
  • On the time, workers at DFS operators have been usually not prohibited from taking part in at different DFS websites (DraftKings and FanDuel have since introduced a coverage prohibiting play by some workers).
  • On October 2, DFS Report revealed the primary synthesis of the story.
  • On October 5, DraftKings and FanDuel provided their first official response to the difficulty.
  • The mainstream media picked up on the story on the identical day. The AP was the primary mainstream outlet to cowl the story, and was shortly adopted by a front-page function within the NY Occasions.
  • Elected officers on the state and federal degree issued reactions starting from the announcement of an inquiry into DFS by New York Lawyer Normal Eric T. Schneiderman, to a name for Congressional scrutiny by Sen. Harry Reid and others in Washington, to the proposal of a listening to for DFS in California by Assemblymember Adam Grey.
  • On October 14, the Wall Avenue Journal reported that the FBI and US DoJ had opened a “preliminary” probe into the daily fantasy sportsbook {industry}.

Why the query of entry to insider information is a essential one

Haskell’s obvious capability to readily entry useful information raises questions on DraftKings’ inner controls. As DFS Report put it:

If this type of data is saved prematurely like this who’s to say that the information isn’t obtainable to somebody 5 minutes earlier than kickoff of video games or 10 minutes earlier than the kickoff and even an hour earlier than the preliminary kickoff. My level is that if the information might be accessed prematurely then it isn’t laborious to see it may simply be accessed at different factors prematurely even earlier than the event is stay.

If the information is made obtainable, the questions looming over DraftKings – and all operators – embrace:

  • Which workers members, and what number of, are seeing information like this or have entry to it?
  • What different information may these workers entry that will be of use in setting lineups?
  • What precautions are being taken to maintain the information from leaking?

The specter of “insider buying and selling”

Even when a DFS website worker shouldn’t be taking part in DFS (at his or her website, or elsewhere) lineup information and different inner operator information could be extraordinarily useful to DFS gamers.

Mix that important worth with an setting the place inner controls on information entry are lax and you threat the useful equal of insider buying and selling on the inventory market, argued sportsbook and gaming lawyer Daniel Wallach:

With too many workers presumably getting access to this inside data, it raises the specter of insiders utilizing this personal data to achieve an edge once they play comparable contests for large cash on different websites.

At a minimal, DFS workers and insiders must be restricted from taking part in on any website (not simply their very own), and entry to such a data must be restricted solely to probably the most important of personnel. If it’s too simply accessible to most workers, the chance and suspicion of insider profiteering won’t go away anytime quickly.

Do workers of DFS websites play at different DFS websites?


We aren’t conscious of any DFS firm that had a blanket coverage prohibiting workers from taking part in on different DFS websites on the time of the incident.

Following the incident, FanDuel and DraftKings introduced they have been limiting the power of their workers to play DFS at different websites, and that workers of different DFS websites could be prohibited from taking part in on DraftKings and FanDuel. A number of different operators have adopted with comparable insurance policies.

How a lot does it occur?

Anecdotally, the quantity of cross-site play by operator workers is substantial.

DraftKings founder Paul Liberman commented in September that the corporate employs “some individuals who make considerably extra money off of our opponents’ websites than they do working for DraftKings.”

One {industry} insider who wished to stay nameless informed LSR that “a big variety of the whales on the prime DFS websites are workers – typically executives – of different websites.”

(From a DFS operator’s standpoint, a “whale” is solely a high-volume participant that generates important income, not essentially a successful or dropping participant.)

The place the story intersects with the difficulty of regulation

Daily fantasy sportsbook presently occupies a authorized area within the U.S. that has allowed the {industry} to exist exterior of the regulatory umbrella that covers conceptually comparable merchandise like parimutuel horse wagering, poker, and sportsbook betting.

Operators of DFS websites don’t undergo oversight by state gaming regulators, a state of affairs that has generated quite a few objections from throughout the business online casino {industry}.

On account of that establishment:

  • There are not any formal, industry-wide guidelines governing this explicit state of affairs.
  • There isn’t any transparency surrounding the essential questions associated to the incident.
  • There isn’t any assure of accountability – DraftKings is successfully conducting its personal investigation.
  • There isn’t any physique actively working to craft enforceable coverage that will stop future conflicts from arising.

As Seth Younger, COO of daily fantasy sportsbook website Star Fantasy Leagues, famous to LSR, “brick and mortar teams in a regulated setting have tight controls on who can entry what information. We all the time discuss how now we have been constructed to handle issues like this, and different issues of gaming regulators, and many others. There’s a purpose these items doesn’t come out of our camp, and it’s not due to participant numbers.”

“That is, nonetheless, one other working example why we license and management our know-how,” Younger added. “Figuring out what I do know, I’m undecided how this type of factor occurs accidentally, or how deep this integrity problem goes.”

Within the absence of an exterior oversight perform, listed below are some essential questions stemming from the information leak problem that we’ll by no means have full certainty relating to:

  • How have websites enforced insurance policies that prohibit workers from taking part in at their residence website, utilizing inner information to achieve a bonus at different websites, or transferring inner information to people exterior of the corporate?
  • What number of situations have there been the place these insurance policies have been violated? What number of accusations or investigations?
  • What was the investigative course of for figuring out whether or not a coverage violation befell?
  • How many individuals have entry to competitively delicate information? What number of occasions has that degree of information been accessed by workers? Might workers entry information anonymously or by proxy accounts? How troublesome wouldn’t it have been for an worker to share information?
  • What share of workers / executives from one website have lively accounts at different websites?
  • When a participant hits an enormous rating at a DFS website, does the positioning examine her or him for hyperlinks to workers on the website the place the win befell?
  • What programs, if any, do DFS operators have for cooperating as a way to advance fraud investigations?

In distinction, the regulated NJ casino {industry} exists in an setting the place state regulators have on-demand entry to any and all information associated to sport play, complete transaction historical past, and workers.

DraftKings was required to use for a similar sort of licensure in the UK as sportsbook betting operators bet365 and betfair, as daily fantasy sportsbook falls below the purview of the UK Playing Fee.

The position of the Fantasy Sports activities Commerce Affiliation

The FSTA – the first commerce group for the DFS {industry} – does have a “Paid Entry Contest Operator Constitution” that serves as the one exterior pointers for DFS operators. FSTA board members embrace the CEOs of DraftKings and FanDuel; FanDuel CEO Nigel Eccles was an creator of the constitution.

The constitution features a part devoted to sport integrity:

Participant Safety

The signatory firm will guarantee workers or different individuals related to the corporate with entry to confidential participant data (corresponding to line-ups) won’t:

  • Play on their very own video games (aside from for testing functions or in personal leagues)
  • Use confidential participant data to achieve a bonus taking part in in opposition to gamers on a unique website
  • Share confidential participant data (corresponding to win charge) to anybody exterior of the corporate

Word that the FSTA considers lineups to be “confidential participant data” and that the leak seems to be a transparent violation of the FSTA constitution.

However what’s truly behind the coverage? The FSTA itself makes it clear that the physique isn’t meant to function an enforcement equipment. From the constitution:

Conforming with the above shouldn’t be seen as compliance with the legislation, and the FSTA is under no circumstances certifying such compliance of member corporations. Firms ought to procure and cling to authorized recommendation relating to their video games from expert, skilled counsel of their selection

The FSTA shouldn’t be endeavor to audit or regulate member corporations. Reasonably, this code is designed to foster correct conduct and permit the FSTA to train discretion and take motion if it so chooses ought to it be taught {that a} member firm shouldn’t be adhering to the rules set forth above.

Additionally, should you violate the constitution, the one penalty could be now not having membership within the FSTA, which is nowhere close to what the penalty could be for an infraction relating to sport integrity that will consequence below regulation.

Official statements from key stakeholders

DraftKings, FanDuel, and the Fantasy Sports activities Commerce Affiliation

Here’s a full timeline of responses from DraftKings, FanDuel, and the FSTA.


Main League Baseball

Through ESPN:

“Main League Baseball has a coverage that prohibits gamers and workers from collaborating in fantasy baseball video games during which prize cash or different issues of worth can be found to contributors,” MLB stated in its assertion. “We have been shocked to be taught that DraftKings allowed its workers to take part in daily fantasy video games. We’ve reached out and mentioned this matter with them.”


How does entry to possession information present an edge?

Ed Miller, an unbiased video games guide who has written continuously about DFS, says that it’s troublesome to overstate the worth of lineup information.

“When you knew beforehand which gamers could be most used, within the main sportsbook you may construct +EV (constructive anticipated worth) money sport and GPP lineups primarily based virtually solely on that information,” Miller informed Authorized Sports activities Report.

Possession share is one piece of the puzzle that may be helpful in skillfully setting DFS lineups, particularly in assured prize pool contests. High gamers attempt to predict possession percentages, and information about previous possession percentages might be dissected for data.

Due to the huge variety of entries within the greatest contests at DraftKings and FanDuel — lots of of hundreds — it’s normally troublesome to win a contest with a whole lot of gamers which are generally owned.

Extra sources on this query:

  • DFS professional Ray Coburn dives into the potential magnitude of the sting on the TwoPlusTwo podcast.
  • Overview on the sting information can present over at ESPN.
  • Alex Weldon breaks down the fundamentals of possession share and its significance at PTP.
  • RotoGrinders technique article overlaying possession share.

Did Haskell have entry to information that facilitated his win at FanDuel?

We’ve seen no compelling proof or credible accusations that Haskell’s FanDuel win was in any manner related to the information leak in query.

DraftKings has categorically denied that Haskell had entry at a time that will have impacted his entry within the FanDuel contest in query:


RotoGrinders founder Cal Spears reported that Haskell didn’t have entry to the information earlier than setting his lineup at FanDuel. Right here is his submit from the RG thread, which included an replace from Saturday:

There’s a narrative operating on Twitter that Ethan had entry to this information earlier than lineups locked and used it to play on Fanduel. From what I’m informed he acquired the possession report effectively after lineups locked on Fanduel. There’s loads of advantage in a debate about website workers taking part in on totally different websites, however we have to base that debate in actuality. Ethan was not utilizing this information to choose his week 3 groups on Fanduel, he was writing about this information for DK Playbook after his week 3 groups on Fanduel had already locked.

Spears stated he additionally confirmed with DraftKings co-founder Matt Kalish that the information that Haskell had entry to was issued too late to be of use at FanDuel.

Picture by Eric Norris used below license CC BY 2.0.