To say July 8th, 2015 was a big day for the daily fantasy sports industry would be a drastic understatement. The headline grabbing news was Yahoo rolling out their DFS platform for the world to see. But in a PR play straight out of the golden book for how to break bad news, DraftKings hopped on its favorite forum to deliver some news to a few rotogrinders about a significant change to their terms of service that will greatly affect everyone that considers playing on their platform. The original post by Jon Aguiar can be read below:
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 ofDraftKings 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 firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you have related to this change.
Instead of a public announcement done on the DraftKings website, or through their robust playbook content section, it seemed they tried to sneak a fastball by the DFS community by offering a quick post on the rotogrinders forum and then not responding or issuing any additional follow-up. Questions abound like why the sudden change? Most speculated (probably correctly) that not only has this been going on for some time among high volume players, but that DraftKings had essentially turned a blind eye fulling knowing that their terms of service were being violated. There will be no repercussions for these players however as instead of possibly stumbling on the first DFS cheating scandal, DraftKings went the route of coverup and modified their position so as to not upset anyone. Unfortunately this did not seem to work out as well as planned as a number of people in the industry are quite upset about this drastic and sudden change.
The Real Issue
I understand the frustration that many have with DraftKings modifying their rules to fit around previous actions of some of their highest volume players and how that used to be in direct violation of their terms and service. That does call into question the integrity of past tournaments on DraftKings and the offering of a level playing field for DFS players but it sounds like DraftKings is not going to respond or have any comment on these questions. So I think it would be best to focus on how this is going to affect DFS players going forward. And again, that is the real issue as this is not a good business decision by DraftKings and inevitably could be their Fatal Error. Most have focused on the entry of mass lineups into DFS contests and how that will create an unfair playing field for the average player who does not have access to these sort of scripts (or chooses not to spend money on a site that offers them). There is some degree of separation in having access to it but the real separator will be scripts combined with lineup algorithms that can make lineup edits on the fly close to contest lock or make late swaps when another set of games is about to kick off that take into account all opponents lineups (and potential lineups) as scenarios for how to best edit their massive amount of teams. This would be able to take into account all the latest information from late breaking injury news to how opponent’s players have already performed, to countless other factors and data points and use that info as inputs in order to make the best pivots to put that DFS player in the best position to win the GPP tournament. That is the real skill separator that we will see develop from this.
Now don’t get me wrong this was most likely happening on DraftKings before even though all evidence is clearly circumstantial unless proof is provided by DraftKings. But at that time it was considered cheating and there was hope that maybe DraftKings was enforcing this and doing everything to prevent it. Now it is just par for the course. And to think this won’t continue to develop more and more is akin to burying your head in the sand. Let’s not kid ourselves, just watch the DraftKings commercials, Boatloads of money is being won (and lost) on their site every week. Anytime that is happening in any industry the best and the brightest will continue to search out edges to give themselves the best opportunity to walk away with the most money. Unfortunately with DraftKings decision yesterday, we clearly see exactly who’s side they are on. And for the average user, it may be best to look for DFS action elsewhere and if enough people move off their site then this will really be considered the fatal error of Draftkings. Because where the Fish go, the sharks soon follow.