This past week DraftKings and FanDuel especially, but all Daily Fantasy Sports outlets and by extension any kind of betting that takes place online, including Online Poker, were on the hot seat. By now everyone who cares about access to various kinds of gambling from an electronic devise knows the circumstances - a probably data leak - and the excuses - data might have been available but wasn’t used to win $350,000 - so I am not going to repeat them here in detail.
Actually, the facts do not matter all that much. What matters is the PERCEPTION that some wrong doing did take place or could have taken place. DraftKings’ good will stock took a dive and is still plummeting from the precipice where this newly minted billion dollar company has been sitting for several months now. FanDuels’ is not far behind.
I play DFS and I play on DraftKings. When I first started, last football season, I liked their application better than FanDuel’s, even though FanDuel was the industry leader at the time. I play what by anyone’s standards are considered chump stakes ($5 50/50 contests mostly) but I am not playing to get rich or make a killing. I play because it’s fun and true to what NFL and other major sports insiders believe, it makes me interested in sporting events and players that I otherwise would not care about. There is skill involved in making selections but there is a tremendous amount of luck involved as well. If you bet on a QB who does really well and then gets pulled for a back-up so the second string player can get some experience, that’s luck, bad luck without a whole lot of skill involved. You can consider all the angles each week if you have time and resources to do that but my guess is if you are doing that you’re not in it for the fun, you’re in it for the profit.
If I get screwed out of $5 because someone cheated it’s not the end of the world. I’m not going to risk any more dollars, but it’s a pittance down the drain. If someone with inside information wins $350,000 that could have gone to the next player in line who did not have inside information, that’s highway robbery in anyone’s book and deserves to be punished like all other crimes are punished.
But the company line (I just received a “personal” email this morning from DraftKings execs Jason Robins, Matt Kalish, and Paul Liberman, co-founders of DraftKings - See the email as published on fox9) is that nothing untoward happened and they were already working on ways to self-regulate and bring in third-party auditors. Unfortunately that’s too little too late.
My own take is that nonsense like this has been going on from the start and if it’s not DK’s employees playing on FD or vice versa with inside information, it most certainly is one site’s employees in the know handing info off to friends and relatives playing on another site who will not come up on anyone's radar unless someone is looking really hard. Trust me, now they are going to look hard, really hard.
So, what does all this chicanery have to do with online poker? Not much directly but a whole lot indirectly. According to Rick Muny, VP of Player Relations for the Poker Players Alliance, “. . . there is the obvious risk of online poker getting pulled into legislative attempts to limit or even ban DFS.” Rich's Latest PPA Weekly Update says it all
A few week's ago Jennifer Newell, a well-respected poker writer and key commentator on the unfortunate events in and around St. Louis over the last year, wrote about the unholy connection between DFS and poker so prominent on nearly all poker blogs, poker sites, and poker events. Her chickens are coming home to roost! Jennifer's article, posted on Robbie Strazynski's cardplayerlifestyle site, is a good, prophetic read. Entire Article Here!
The public and politicians especially are not very discerning. Any sort of gambling online, skill based or not, that comes under scrutiny brings all kinds of online gambling under scrutiny. The poker lobby will suffer a setback and it’s not even their fault. Thank the guys who have been plastering advertisements all over every poker tournament and just about every sporting event on TV or elsewhere since last summer. Messing up like this makes it difficult for everyone.
I think we are all in for a roller-coaster ride with no signs of getting off anytime soon. Should there be outside control and regulation of DFS? Yes, there absolutely should be just like there should be outside control and regulation on all legal online poker sites. If we are happy to settle for investing our money and time in unregulated online poker sites with no guarantee that they are free of collusion, free of cheating and that there is no chance of NOT getting our money back when we want it, then we will be happy dealing with DraftKings and FanDuel in a future without independent regulation and/or government oversight. I don’t know about you, but that’s not me!