The complaint in New Jersey District Court accuses FanDuel of directly copying and pasting William Hill’s “How To Bet Guide” as its own. William Hill also alleges FanDuel ripped off its material for use on multiple websites.
William Hill seeks unspecified damages from FanDuel, as well as a permanent injunction preventing further use of the copyrighted materials.
A FanDuel spokesman declined comment, saying as a policy, the company does not comment on pending litigation. William Hill CEO Joe Asher provided a written statement to Legal Sports Report:
“We are not litigious people but this is ridiculous. If the court finds in our favor, a portion of the proceeds will fund scholarships for creative writing programs at New Jersey universities.”
Just how obvious was it? Well …
The William Hill lawsuit minces no words in describing accusations against FanDuel:
A simple side-by-side comparison of the William Hill Copyrighted Work against the Infringing Pamphlet clearly demonstrates how egregious FanDuel has been in its unauthorized copying of the William Hill Copyrighted Work.
William Hill lays out the case in multiple snapshots. Each one features identical language from the William Hill guide used in the FanDuel version.
It gets worse from there …
Perhaps the most damning evidence presented in the William Hill lawsuit comes from page 13 of the FanDuel pamphlet.
In fact, you might not be able to identify which version is William Hill’s and which one is FanDuel’s:
FanDuel’s unauthorized copying is perhaps most evident in the fact that FanDuel actually forgot to remove William Hill’s name when printing the Infringing Pamphlet.
William Hill first by at least a month
The William Hill lawsuit also points out that it first published its pamphlet June 5. That’s just a few days before William Hill launched the first New Jersey sportsbook at Monmouth Park racetrack.
FanDuel Sportsbook did not open at Meadowlands Racetrack until July 14. The suit alleges sometime after that date, William Hill “subsequently discovered a pamphlet being distributed at the Meadowlands. The pamphlet was branded “FANDUEL SPORTSBOOK” and was entitled ‘How to Bet Betting Guide.'”
The alleged infringement extends to FanDuel’s website as well. The suit details a litany of FanDuel betting guides cribbed directly from William Hill’s materials, according to the complaint:
- Auto Racing
- Sports Betting Terms Glossary
- Sportsbook Type of Wagers
Questions mount for FanDuel in New Jersey
The William Hill lawsuit marks the third major issue for FanDuel Sportsbook in just a few months in New Jersey.
The daily fantasy sports stalwart moved quickly to enter New Jersey sports betting after the Supreme Court struck down PASPA in May. Following its acquisition by Paddy Power Betfair, the newly formed FanDuel Group announced plans to start sports betting at Meadowlands Racetrack.
Less than two weeks after opening, controversy embroiled the sportsbook after it closed without paying winning bettors on a late MLB game. FanDuel Sportsbook paid out winning tickets the following day and blamed the error on its cage closing at 1 a.m.
Then came the FanDuel glitch
The company’s next misstep brought on the first national controversy in US legal sports betting. A faulty fourth-quarter in-play line on a Sept. 15 NFL game led to FanDuel Sportsbook offering unreasonably good odds on Denver beating Oakland.
The error lasted just 18 seconds, but at least one bettor caught the line and bet $110 to win $82,610. When the Broncos won, FanDuel Sportsbook initially refused to honor the ticket.
As waves of bad press crashed on FanDuel Sportsbook, it first offered to pay up at the correct price. That would have resulted in just hundreds of dollars won.
The glitch remained in the news for three days before FanDuel Sportsbook finally relented and paid more than $130,000 in winning tickets. The company blamed human error for the mistake.
Regulators watching before William Hill lawsuit
The William Hill lawsuit also will be examined closely by New Jersey gaming regulators, who already trained eyes on FanDuel Sportsbook after the closing error and the glitch.
Director David Rebuck took the blame for the mistake, but he made clear his displeasure with it this month at the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas by saying there would be “no safe haven” for such mistakes in New Jersey.