In an announcement that has sparked a heated debate in the DFS community, DraftKings recently reversed its policy of banning the use of automation on the site, opening the way for more sophisticated players to leverage such utilities to streamline the process of entering contests. Opponents of that decision, however, believe that players who possess these so-called “scripts” will gain an unfair advantage over the competition, while further widening the gap between recreational players and professional grinders.
In a post on RotoGrinders, the company acknowledged player complaints about the tedious tasks involved in creating a large number of lineups by hand, and specified the strict circumstances under which automated tools would be allowed. “After a long internal discussion, we have made the decision to change our terms to allow customers to use scripts to automate a short list of time-consuming behaviors on the site,” said DraftKings representative Jon “FatalError” Aguiar.
According to the company, automated tools will only be allowed for the following functions:
- Creating a contest
- Creating a lineup
- Editing a lineup
- Entering a guaranteed contest
- Withdrawing from a contest
The DFS community reacts
Many forum posters were outraged by the decision and quickly pointed out the ways that automated utilities could be used to get a leg up on amateur players. Giving the example of a pair of players, one using automation, and the other creating lineups by hand, RotoGrinders poster “CrazyPaul” imagined the consequences of such a situation.
The player using a script, he says, “has a distinct advantage because he can create and enter all of his lineups in 1/8th of the time as [his opponent].” He explains that using automation, a pro player could use the extra time to gather valuable data like weather and lineup news, and continue tweaking his teams until the last minute.
“CP1” envisions another situation which clearly troubles opponents of automation. “How does it sound if someone enters every game on the site… [with] an excel file with all of the players that they… do not want to play against?” he asked. “They also wrote a script to loop through their list of games and withdraw them from any contest with any of the players on their list in it,” he continues.
DraftKings downplays player fears
DraftKings assures, however, that the company will not allow any software which gives users an unfair advantage. “As soon as we became aware, that’s when we began to dig into the question at large,” DraftKings Cofounder Matt Kalish told ESPN. “We discussed out loud what were the acceptable uses of some sort of automation and what was not acceptable. Our framework along the way was that absolutely nothing was acceptable that would create any sort of competitive advantage for players who use it.”
Not all of players reacted negatively to the news. DFS heavyweight “rayofhope” chimed in, applauding the company for its decision. “If scripting was done well, they’d be basically unable to do anything about it, only the bad cheaters would get caught,” he said. “It doesn’t fundamentally change anything about the game, so it’s much better to allow it, and allow sites like RotoGrinders to make it accessible to all players that want to do it rather than just the knowledgeable cheaters.”
FanDuel announcement fails to impress
The debate spurred FanDuel to clarify its own position on automation, an announcement which wasn’t taken well by many in the DFS community. FanDuel rep “waiverwire” announced that after a review of company policy, the site had decided to allow automated tools, but only with the company’s permission.
Some players accused the site of playing favoritism to professional players who are “in the know,” as opposed to amateurs who don’t even realize that using scripts was a possibility.
Kalish has tried to calm fears about automation, making statements that only “a very small percentage of people” play large numbers of lineups. He further explained that DraftKings does not go out of its way to create tools specifically for high-volume grinders.
The debate about approving automated scripts on a case-by-case basis could become moot in the future if sites simply supply the tools themselves, or offer an API for developers to create third-party solutions. “I predict this time next year anyone on RotoGrinders will be able to use our tools to do many of those things through the DraftKings API,” said RotoGrinders Cofounder Cal Spears. “Hopefully sooner.”