DFS, Drama, and a Whole Lot of Questions
Legal challenges, operators pulling out of markets, and one exonerated employee - it's just another normal week in Daily Fantasy Sports.
After record NFL GPP numbers on Sunday October 11, the user figures resembled their early-season levels last Sunday. While causal theories abound, it may well be as straightforward as regression to the norm.
Once we revealed that the sky had not fallen and DFS numbers had actually increased in the wake of the negative press, it is likely that a lot of DFS pros elected to revert to their usual, more conservative bankroll and contest entry strategies after a week of bullishness. In other words, the record-breaking week may be the outlier, and last week's lower figures may be indicative of what constitutes 'normal'.
There is no doubt that the mass pull out of the Nevada market will affect user numbers, and all three of the market leaders have elected to lower the GPPs of their headline NFL contests this Sunday. DraftKings' Millionaire Maker is down from $7m to $6m; FanDuel's Sunday Million is now guaranteeing $500k up top and a $4m prizepool; and Yahoo's $700k baller is now a $650k GPP. There is a lot of uncertainty in DFS right now, and the big sites have no intention of leaving themselves exposed to huge overlay.
In a week when the DraftKings employee whose simple error started the madness was cleared of any wrongdoing, StarsDraft had some big news of its own. The decision to pull out of all-but four states because of perceived legal uncertainty has raised some eyebrows, to say the least. Is StarsDraft's parent company Amaya simply doing the smart thing and protecting its investors and players? Or is it part of a plan to take a short-term hit in the DFS market to facilitate a stronger legal standing in a possible return to the lucrative poker market? After all, Amaya's poker brands, Full Tilt and PokerStars, stand to benefit more than a little from legal, regulated online poker.
Ultimately, it is hard to guess Amaya's endgame here; all we know is that its decision to take the high ground may leave every other operator on the low ground by default. We expect this one to run and run.
Preet Bharara is well known as the driving force behind the legal challenge to online poker, that ultimately brought the industry to its knees on 'Black Friday' in 2011. Now he is reported to be targeting Daily Fantasy Sports. Details are thin on the ground right now, but the Legal Sports Report believes that the 'scaffolding is already in place'. Daily Fantasy Sports has been dogged by legal question marks in the last month, and this one is potentially the most concerning of the lot.
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Special guest, Daily Telegraph football writer JJ Bull joins Christy and David in his very first foray into the world of DFS. Up for debate this week: will Wenger confound JJ's team by resting Ozil and Alexis? Could Everton win the EPL in two years with $1bn? And why the hell has JJ picked three centre halves?!
JJ is a well-respected football journalist, and runs a ridiculously popular Youtube channel and blog called Fitbathatba. If you have ever ventured onto the internet, then you have probably seen one of JJ's viral videos about topics as diverse as Owen Hargreaves' taste in Fruit Pastilles, Arsene Wenger's haggling 'skills', or the pros and cons of having Les Ferdinand as a flatmate.
Check out the podcast, and don't forget to share it on Twitter and Facebook.