Massachusetts AG Cracks Down On Multiple Fantasy Sports Pick’em Companies

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The nationwide regulatory crackdown on fantasy sports pick’em games spread this week to Massachusetts, where the state Attorney General sent cease and desist letters to 10 operators.

This week, the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office issued letters to 10 daily fantasy sports operators for engaging in pick’em games, according to a spokesperson. PrizePicks and Underdog Fantasy were not among them, but it appears changes are in store for those companies as well.

“In Massachusetts, we have laws on the books that demand safe and responsible conduct from gaming operators, and when those laws are ignored, my office will not hesitate to enforce them as a matter of public health and consumer protection. I want to thank the MGC for their partnership in prioritizing these matters,” Massachusetts attorney general Andrea Joy Campbell said in a statement.

Which fantasy sports sites received letters?

The 10 DFS operators issued letters in the Commonwealth include:

What now for Underdog, PrizePicks?

Underdog Fantasy, after talking to the state regulator, switched Monday from player vs. house to peer-to-peer pick’em games in Massachusetts.

“In consultation with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office, we’ve moved to our peer-to-peer pick’em product in Massachusetts,” Underdog Fantasy vice president of government affairs and partnerships Stacie Stern said in a statement.

PrizePicks issued a statement with its future plans.

“PrizePicks has reached an agreement with regulators in Massachusetts to offer our peer-to-peer Arena game starting March 8th. We appreciate the Massachusetts regulators willingness to work with us to make sure PrizePicks members and fantasy sports fans have no interruptions in their access to our contests,” a company spokesperson said.

A line in the MA AG cease and desist letter reads, “At the time of this letter, we are aware that two operators have voluntarily committed to cease their offers of such games in Massachusetts.” A spokesperson for the Attorney General confirmed the referenced companies as PrizePicks and Underdog.

What fantasy sports crackdown letter said

In the letter, operators were told that pick’em games are considered a parlay wager, which is “expressly included in the definition of sports wagering.”

Accordingly, to ensure you are in compliance with Massachusetts laws, you must immediately cease and desist offering “pick’em,” parlay, or any other games that are “sports wagering” under our law. If you intend to restart offering such games, you must first obtain the required licensure pursuant to G.L. c. 23N, § 5. At the time of this letter, we are aware that two operators have voluntarily committed to cease their offers of such games in Massachusetts.” 

State regulator stated its intention

The state AG’s office had recently stated during a Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) public meeting its intentions to send cease and desist letters.

“I don’t intend to put the executives at PrizePicks in jail. We would like to explore civil enforcement in this area to see if it can be effective,” Massachusetts first assistant AG Pat Moore told the state gaming commission. 

The MGC is in alignment with the AG’s office on the matter.

“To ensure a safe, legal and regulated sports wagering market, every operator in Massachusetts must play by the same rules. The Attorney General is a critical partner in these efforts as the MGC implements its regulations and takes action to disrupt and eradicate illegal sports wagering in the Commonwealth. We thank Attorney General Campbell for her leadership and partnership,” MGC chair Cathy Judd-Stein said in a statement.  

DFS operators continue exits under pressure from states

Facing increased regulatory scrutiny, multiple pick’em companies recently agreed to exit major markets like New York and Florida

Over the last year, almost a dozen states have taken action against apps offering contests regulators resolved to fall more in line with sports betting.