Not According to Script: DraftKings Gets Backlash In Terms Of Service Controversy

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DraftKings is catching a great deal of criticism for its recent decision to allow the practice of scripting for its daily fantasy sports contests.

So what is scripting? And why is DraftKings allowing it?

The idea of scripting is likely familiar to regular, serious fantasy players, and those inside in the industry, but not to the casual fan. Scripting in DFS is where players used automated processes to handle something on a site, cutting down on time-consuming tasks for high-volume players. They are of particular use in multi-entry contests, where users can enter more than one lineup in a single contest.

What it boils down to is this: Scripts create an unlevel playing field between players that have them, and players that don’t.

Before the change, the use of scripts to enter DFS contests would have violated DraftKings’ terms of service.

What DraftKings said about scripting and its terms of service

Here is the recent announcement of the policy change from Jonathan Aguiar, Director of Customer Experience at DraftKings, at the forums at RotoGrinders:

Over the last few weeks there has been a great deal of discussion regarding the methods by which players can enter and manage 100’s of lineups on DraftKings as well as interest in what customers can do to reduce the time commitment necessary to do so. As you all know our policy until now has been to disallow automated access or scripting on the site in all cases. After a long internal discussion we have made the decision to change our terms to allow our customers to use scripts to automate a short list of time consuming behaviors on the site.

The permitted behaviors are:

– Creating a contest

– Creating a lineup

– Editing a lineup

– Entering a guaranteed contest

– Withdrawing from a contest

There is no other scripted or automated behavior that will be tolerated and we will be monitoring for any behavior that violates our terms. There will be no warnings for violations and the penalty for such a violation will be at the sole discretion of DraftKings up to and including forfeiture of all winnings/balances on the site.

We appreciate your patience as we’ve worked to solidify a reasonable and enforceable set of rules as DFS and the size of contests has grown. We hope this will provide clarity for those looking to save some time on a day to day basis while playing on DraftKings.

For more information on this update please visit our terms and conditions page for full language regarding access and of course feel free to email us at [email protected] with any questions you have related to this change.

The TOS at DraftKings site accounts for this change with this passage: “In certain circumstances, the Company may permit the limited use of scripts on the Website. Please contact [email protected] for further details.”

Why is DraftKings doing this now?

Many at Rotogrinders are questioning the timing of the announcement, made roughly at the same time as Yahoo’s announcement that it had launched daily fantasy sports. (That logic might be a bit specious, as this topic doesn’t really move the needle in the media or with the casual fan, and would have caused an uproar within DFS circles no matter when it happened)

A report at speculates that the practice has been going on for some time, and that DraftKings is simply revising its Terms of Service to protect players using scripts, and allow them to do it moving forward.

The decision was generally not well taken on Twitter and beyond:

Part of the reason DraftKings and FanDuel are able to offer huge guaranteed prize pools is because of multi-entry contests. Making it easier for people to enter multiple lineups facilitates the sites’ ability to continue to offer contests with millions of dollars at stake.

FanDuel allows scripting?

A FanDuel representative also weighed in on scripting at RotoGrinders. Curiously, the policy is that automated processes like scripts aren’t allowed, unless you ask for permission to use them. The threshold for what is and isn’t allowed, and who will be approved, is unclear.

Here is the post at RotoGrinders:

Sorry to keep everyone waiting so long on this. We’ve completed our review of this issue and going forward, FanDuel’s Terms of Use will remain the same regarding this issue (terms are available at: use of any robot, spider, scraper, sniping software or other automated means to access FanDuel is only allowed with our express written permission.

If you’re interested in applying for permission to automate some process on theFanDuel website, please submit a support ticket with your request and we will provide further instructions. It’s worth mentioning that under no circumstances will permission be granted for purposes of scooping multiple head to head contests from the same opponent or opponents (or for other harmful purposes such as canceling out of contests against specific opponents).”

From FanDuel’s TOS: “By way of example, and not as a limitation, you agree not to:  …use any robot, spider, scraper, sniping software or other automated means to access the Service for any purpose (except for RSS feed access) without our express written permission.”

What’s next on the automated process debate?

The outcry from the player community and on Twitter has been pretty vocal, so far. We can’t imagine that there isn’t more official comment from DFS’ “Big Two” on this matter.

At the same time, scripts could become commonplace.

Cal Spears, one of the founders of RotoGrinders, posted in Aguiar’s thread, with the following regarding scripts: “I predict by this time next year anyone on RotoGrinders will be able to use our tools to do many of these things through the DraftKings API. Hopefully sooner.”

Is the backlash so severe that we could see a reversal of the decision? Based on the idea that disallowing scripts — and actually policing the practice — could mean a huge impact on the sites’ bottom line and ability to offer huge contests, we’re not sure that’s forthcoming. At the same time, things change quickly in the world of DFS all the time.

Photo by Cncplayer used under license CC BY-SA 3.0.