As the saying goes, “When it rains, it pours.” The daily fantasy sports industry is in the middle of a typhoon. On October 15th, Florida residents Antonio Gomez and Ricardo Alejandro Garcia filed a class-action lawsuit against DraftKings and FanDuel, as well as DraftKings employee Ethan Haskell, accusing the two DFS leaders of designing their sites to cater to sharks at the expense of fish.
Lawsuit Says DFS Sites Feed the Gluttons
In the lawsuit, which was filed by the law firms of Colson Hicks Eidson and Lagos & Priovolos, Gomez and Garcia say that these sharks are known as “Apex predators” in the industry and that the DFS sites have not only done nothing to prevent them from abusing recreational customers, but have purposely tailored their contests and rules to encourage the top players to use any and every advantage available so that they will be happy to contribute hundreds of entry fees per day.
In a press release, Colson Hicks Edison says that “the defendants engaged in deceptive and unfair trade practices by allowing an elite group of players to use special computer software to gain an edge over most of the other daily fantasy sports competitors who patronized the firms’ websites.”
“While any player may get lucky on the back of a handful of entries into defendants DraftKings’ and FanDuel’s games,” the lawsuit alleges, “over time nearly all of the prize money flows to a tiny elite equipped with elaborate statistical modeling and automated tools that can manage hundreds of entries at once and identify the weakest opponents. These elite players are known in the fantasy sports gaming industry as ‘Apex predator’ bettors or ‘Shark’ bettors.”
The lawsuit claims that the reason the sites let the “Apex predators” gain every advantage possible is to avoid overlay in their large guaranteed prize pool (GPP) tournaments.
Also named in the lawsuit are Matthew Boccio, a FanDuel employee who is one of the top winners of DraftKings, Saahil “maxdalury” Sud, one of the most successful DFS players in the world, and Drew Dinkmeyer, another successful player and writer for fantasy site DailyRoto.com.
Players Take Sides
The topic of, as the press release puts it, “’robots,’ ‘spiders,’ ‘scrapers’ and ‘sniping software’” has been a divisive one in the DFS community. Many see the use of third-party software, even if it’s not against the rules, as contrary to the spirit of the game, allowing deep-pocketed players to gain an unfair advantage over competitors who can only afford an entry or two. Others look at this sort of software as just another tool which anyone can use if they want to take the time to find it and learn how to use it, as well as possibly pay money for it.
Some proponents of scripts are simply of the opinion, “Sucks to be you. I’ll use them if I want. Deal with it.” For example, on Rotogrinders, one person said:
Nobody forced you to play sharks. You could have found your own fish and you’re mad you don’t have the ability to catch the same fish. BUT! You want to make sure these casual players you want to beat keep playing. OK.
Others, though take a more thoughtful approach. One poster on Rotogrinders wrote:
Here’s what scripting does for me: It allows me to enter my lineups quickly after doing a whole day’s worth of research. I hope that doesn’t go away. It allows me to play DFS and not totally shirk my other responsibilities (driving carpool, making dinner, etc.), as spending an hour or two entering lineups without csv upload kills my whole afternoon/evening. I think it’s an important quality of life issue and should be allowed and available to everyone.
One opponents of scripts and third-party software wrote, “I don’t like the idea of my entry fees being sucked up by sharks that are allowed free reign to deploy their computer code that enters them in to every contest.”
Many posters in the Rotogrinders conversation agreed that if it’s not realistic to ban all third-party software (essentially believing the train has already left the station), then DFS sites should provide the tools for all of their customers and allow only those tools to be used. Whether players use them or not, they all have the same opportunity.
Another suggestion that was supported by some posters was that there should be separate contests for those who want to use scripts and those who don’t.