This was another busy week in the daily fantasy sports industry. Here’s a quick look back at what happened this past week, and what to watch for in the coming week, one of the busiest sports weeks of the year:
What happened this week in DFS
No more college try: FanDuel and DraftKings announced this week that they reached a deal with the NCAA to no longer offer contests tied to college sports. Indiana and Massachusetts had already prescribed bans of college sports in the two states’ recent regulation packages. And this agreement could be an attempt by both sites to head off a Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act challenge, turn the NCAA into a friend for future regulation, or simply to avoid a fight over a relatively small vertical.
Small-time insurgency: More than 30 smaller fantasy sports companies have banded together to kick off their own lobbying effort and trade group, named the Small Businesses of Fantasy Sports Trade Association. The move is a break from the Fantasy Sports Trade Association — although the member companies still belong to the FSTA — and DFS giants DraftKings and FanDuel after concern that many of the regulation efforts in recent months better serve a future DraftKings-FanDuel duopoly.
Mississippi bill in trouble?: Mississippi’s attempt to regulate the DFS industry, after some early progress, is on shaky ground. DFS legislation in Mississippi was complicated by the inclusion of a provision to authorize a state lottery and drastically different bills from the two legislative bodies, leaving the evolving legislation with an uncertain future. The bill looks to be headed to conference committee. Mississippi, while not a large state, would be important to the industry: It’s one of the jurisdictions where most operators pulled out following a negative attorney general opinion.
Yahoo stops taking credit cards: The third-largest DFS operator pulled the plug on credit cards for its DFS contests, leaving PayPal as the primary option for funding Yahoo DFS accounts. Yahoo’s move seems to be an attempt to get ahead of a potential storm — online payment processing — before it builds.
What to watch for in DFS
Major golf contest: The Masters tees off the major golf season on Thursday, and like last year, DraftKings is rolling out a huge guarantee. DraftKings is offering a $4 million guarantee, making it the the largest golf contest ever held in terms of guaranteed prizes. The contest has an entry fee of $20 and tops out at about 230,000 entries. Golf grabbed a lot of attention last summer with explosive growth, and DraftKings is betting that the momentum will carry over to the 2016 golf season.
Play ball: Baseball opens the 2016 season this week, with three games slated for Sunday. The meat of the season begins on Monday, though, and both FanDuel and DraftKings have rolled out significant guaranteed contests to celebrate. FanDuel is offering four Monday games with guaranteed prize pools of more than $100,000, including its $250,000 MLB Grand Slam ($25 entry) and $200,000 MLB Squeeze ($2 entry). DraftKings is also offering four contests with guarantees of more than $100,000, including its $400,000 Season Opener ($27 entry) and the $300,000 Moonshot ($3 entry).
Continued action in the states: A bill to regulate DFS was moved to the Minnesota House last week, and the Tennessee Senate passed a bill that would make daily fantasy sports legal. Those are just two of more than two dozen states that are debating DFS-related bills, and there is little sign of that slowing down.
Last gasp for college DFS?: The Men’s Final Four played over the weekend could very well be the last chance to play college sports-related DFS. After FanDuel and DraftKings agreed with the NCAA to no longer offer college-based contests, the smaller sites could very well follow suit. Those sites could have some time for such a decision, though, as men’s basketball ends with Monday’s national championship game and college football does not begin until the end of summer.
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