DraftKings Drops Pick6 DFS Game In Maryland, Adds More States

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Jonathon Aguiar, DraftKings Director of Peer-to-Peer Gaming, announced Thursday on Twitter that the company launched its new pick’em daily fantasy sports game in California and West Virginia.

It comes after DraftKings Pick6 launched in eight additional states, shortly after the peer-to-peer standalone app was first announced earlier this month. It is now available in 14 states total, along with Washington, DC:

Tennessee and West Virginia are the only states on that list where DraftKings is also present as a sports betting app, which an increasing number of states have declared is actually what pick’em DFS is.

DraftKings Pick6 out in Maryland

In a subsequent post, Aguiar acknowledged that DraftKings Pick6 is no longer available in Maryland, one of the first states where it launched.

DraftKings sent the following email to Maryland customers on Thursday:

“DraftKings is no longer offering Pick6 in Maryland. Affected Maryland customers will have Pick6 credits converted to cash in the next 48 hours,” the company said in a statement.

Past Maryland action against pick’em

Neither PrizePicks nor Underdog Fantasy, 2023’s most downloaded DFS apps, has offered pick’em products in Maryland since 2022, when the state clarified its fantasy rules ahead of launching legal sports betting.

“Maryland’s sports wagering law has a broad definition of wager types that are defined as sports wagering as opposed to daily fantasy sports. There are competitions that may be permitted under the DFS laws and regulations in other jurisdictions, but aren’t permitted here,” said a spokesperson with the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency.

“The sports wagering definition in our law includes single-game bets; teaser bets; parlays; over-unders; moneylines; pools; exchange wagering; in-game wagering; in-play bets; proposition bets; and straight bets. If a competition has any of these components, it’s defined in Maryland as sports wagering and is not permitted as a DFS offering. It can only be made available by a licensed online sports wagering platform or facility.”

DraftKings Pick6 received approval before Maryland launch

Ahead of Pick6’s initial launch, DraftKings Chief Product Officer Corey Gottlieb told LSR that DraftKings had “elaborate conversations” with regulators in each state to ensure compliance with their rules.

“We did initially approve the launch, but later determined that Pick 6 was not in compliance with Maryland law,” a spokesperson with the MLGC said. 

Pick’em companies pivot to peer-to-peer

DraftKings made sure to market its pick’em games as peer-to-peer, as opposed to the player vs. house model an increasing number of states have cracked down on.

Those crackdowns led to companies like PrizePicks making their games free-to-play in Michigan and Underdog making its pick’em contests peer-to-peer in states including:

DraftKings Pick6 adds California, West Virginia

West Virginia is now the only state where DraftKings Pick6 is available and not one of PrizePicks or Underdog’s pick’em games is.

“DraftKings’ new product is a peer-to-peer pick’em game that the West Virginia Lottery has determined, pursuant to our Code and Legislative Rules, is a daily fantasy sports game and thus not regulated by the West Virginia Lottery,” a spokesperson with the West Virginia Lottery said. “The games offered by PrizePicks and Underdog were proposition parlays against the House which the Lottery has determined are sports wagers that require a license to be able to offer.”

DraftKings has operated DFS in California for years, though not as a pick’em product until now. The change comes just a few weeks after the State Attorney General announced he would be issuing an opinion on the legality of DFS, which is somewhat of a legal gray area in the Golden State.

Up to states to decide: DraftKings CEO

Pick’em operators blame DraftKings and FanDuel for urging states to crack down on what many identify as sports betting products.

Responding to a question on influencing states to take action against certain companies, CEO Jason Robins said in October:

 “I would say it’s more we want to understand what the constraints of what we can offer are. I think the same rules should be applied to everybody,” Robins said, who added later, “What that actual definition [of fantasy sports] is, I agree with [FanDuel CEO] Amy [Howe], is not up to us to decide.”