Six Questions For DraftKings CEO Jason Robins

Posted on October 8, 2015 - Last Updated on May 27, 2020

In the wake of the DraftKings data leak, CEO Jason Robins has agreed to an interview with RotoGrinders’ Dan Back.

Here are a few questions I’d like to hear Robins address directly.

When asked if lineup data would provide a player with an advantage, you said “of course.” So why was a mid-level employee able to both easily access and publicly release that data?

Robins made the comment on OTL on October 7 in response to Bob Ley, who asked Robins if such information would give “an advantage” to a professional DFS players.

Robins immediately responded “oh, of course. Any information like that would give people an advantage.”

If the value of the data is so obvious to Robins, why were there apparently no internal checks at DraftKings to prevent the data from being accessed and publicly released at a point where it potentially provided a competitive advantage to players on DraftKings?

Why did it take a week for DraftKings to issue any sort of formal response?

The data leak occurred September 27. DraftKings offered no formal comment on the situation until October 5.

On OTL, Robins claimed that DraftKings had already hired an external party to perform “a full audit of our policies and procedures” before “any of this happened.”

If that’s the case, why didn’t the company immediately release a statement exonerating Haskell and indicating that they were already undertaking an audit and that the leak would be rolled into that process?

Why did they wait a full week?

If you had “some reservations” about employee play and believed it should be restricted, why did you allow it to happen?

Via BetaBoston on October 7:

The chief executive of DraftKings Inc. said he had “some reservations” about employees entering fantasy sports contests for cash prizes and privately suggested that his company and its rivals restrict the practice.

Robins is the CEO of the largest daily fantasy sports site in the world. If he had concerns, why didn’t he act on them?

If he got pushback, where did the pushback come from? Investors? Other executives?

What else about the status quo of daily fantasy sports do you have concerns about?

More from Robins in BetaBoston:

“It was never anything early on that people really thought would cause this kind of controversy,” Robins told the Globe. “Now that we’re bigger, and looking back on it, I get it a little bit more. And I, to be honest, did  have some reservations about this, and have spoken in the past with some of our competition about whether we should have policies such as this one in place.”

Robins made a similar statement to OTL:

And you know, i think this is a real eye-opening experience for us. In retrospect, it seems obvious that that would cause people some concern. You know, we looked at what we were doing internally and the fact that we had pretty good monitoring and we could tell from our records if anyone was accessing data and when they were accessing it and how they were accessing it. And we felt like that was enough. But it really isn’t.

What other policies that date back to an era before DraftKings’ meteoric growth does Robins think should be revisited?

Are you surprised that Major League Baseball was surprised by DraftKings’ policy on cross-site employee play?

In a statement following the data leak, MLB said that the league was “surprised to learn that DraftKings allowed its employees to participate in daily fantasy games.”

But Robins told BetaBoston that employee play was a broadly known and discussed topic.

“It wasn’t like we were trying to hide it. It wasn’t like this was some big secret,” Robins said.

How does FanDuel know how many DraftKings employees are playing on FanDuel, but DraftKings doesn’t know how many DraftKings employees are playing on FanDuel?

A FanDuel spokesperson indicated this week that DraftKings employees represent .3% of all money won (not profit) at FanDuel (although the timeframe was left unspecified).

When Robins was asked on OTL about the prevalence of DraftKings employees at FanDuel and how successful those employees were, he was unable to provide specifics:

BL: How many DraftKings employees have ever played at FanDuel?

JR: I don’t know an exact number. But we can get back to you on that. I mean, it’s probably a few dozen. It’s not an insignificant number. It’s not the whole company. But I don’t know offhand.

BL: Do you know how successful they were?

JR: I don’t know that either. I know that, obviously, that this last incident where Ethan won some money was a big success, and I think had we seen anything of that magnitude before, it probably would have, you know, come out before. But you know, I don’t know overall how successful individual employees were. That’s something we’re still looking into and it’s going to be a part of what the law firm is looking into as well.

How does the inability to articulate how successful DraftKings employees have been playing at other DFS sites square with Robins’ assertion that DraftKings has robust internal controls?

Isn’t knowing how successful employees are at other sites a fundamental aspect of any system for investigating potential misuse of internal data?

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Chris Grove

Chris is the former publisher of LegalSportsReport.com and OnlinePokerReport.com. Grove also serves as a consultant to various stakeholders in the regulated market for online gambling in the United States.

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