FanDuel & DraftKings CEOs Talk DFS Pick’em Sites. Will Ohio Ban Them?

Written By C.J. Pierre on October 12, 2023
A picture of the DraftKings logo for a story about possible regulatory clarity surrounding DFS pick 'em sites in Ohio.

Daily fantasy sports contests are in the news spotlight after multiple states decided to ban Daily fantasy sports games that mimic player prop betting. Is this something daily fantasy users in Ohio need to worry about?

Back in 2017, Ohio joined the growing list of states passing legislation explicitly legalizing daily fantasy sports (DFS). However, since that time, DFS sites have evolved and can mimic certain bets at Ohio online sportsbooks.

This has prompted Michigan to ban over/under props on individual players, a move that was recently made in New York as well. Florida and Wyoming regulators sent cease and desist orders to pick’em operators.

The regulators of Ohio daily fantasy sports sites might want to look at them closer.

DFS sites questioning state DFS regulatory rules

These state bans mostly impact operators like PrizePicks and Underdog Fantasy. Those sites offer over/under props on individual players against the house, not other players.

Meanwhile, companies like FanDuel Ohio and DraftKings Ohio are protected because their games are played in pools of player-to-player competitions.

The issue was pushed to center stage at the Global Gaming Expo, more commonly called G2E, in Las Vegas. During a Wednesday panel, the CEOs of FanDuel and DraftKings said they were seeking clarity on pick’em games from state regulators.

DraftKings CEO Jason Robins said his company wants to understand the constraints of what it can offer its fantasy customers.

“We want to be able to compete with the same offer and whoever has the best product comes out on top,” said Robins. “I think the same rules should be applied everywhere. It is up to the states but we are seeking clarity.”

Underdog Fantasy, PrizePicks and Betr each received letters from the Florida Gaming Control Commission asking them to halt operations in the state, alleging that each is illegally taking bets. Robins noted that DraftKings had not received a cease-and-desist letter from Florida gaming regulators.

DraftKings is also looking to expand its daily fantasy sports presence. The company recently filed a trademark application for a new game called DraftKings Cashpicks.

As the Ohio sports betting industry experiences dynamic shifts in customer interests and technological advancements, DraftKings is trying to stay one step ahead of the competition and is poised to meet the evolving demands of sports fans.

Meanwhile, FanDuel CEO Amy Howe says her company is in a similar position to DraftKings. She said the issue was “where the lines blur” on skill gaming and real-money gaming. She added that there was a “legal and regulatory framework and it is up to the states to adjudicate this.”

Ohio already has strict DFS regulation

Licensed Ohio daily fantasy sports sites operate in a strict regulatory environment. The Ohio Casino Control Commission regulates fantasy sports and issues licenses to qualified operators.

The licensing process is exhaustive but offers relatively small application fees, encouraging operators to enter the market.

Players can choose from a wide variety of legal DFS sites in Ohio. There are currently 17 DFS sites operating in The Buckeye State.

  • DraftKings DFS
  • FanDuel DFS
  • Yahoo Fantasy Sports
  • Underdog Sports
  • Fantasy Football Players Championship (FFPC)
  • RealTime Fantasy Sports
  • SportsHub Games Network
  • Verdict MMA
  • Masters Fantasy Leagues
  • No House Advantage
  • OwnersBox 3.0
  • Bid Ventures
  • DataForce
  • SuperDraft
  • Gully Cricket
  • Nightery

When drafting Ohio’s DFS regulations, the OCCC opted to prohibit auto-drafting (lineups created on behalf of users) and ban certain proposition-style fantasy contests. OCCC says the rules are intended to prevent fantasy sports contests from removing the skill element and venturing into illegal gambling territory.

For example, when you use Underdog fantasy in Ohio, you cannot access Underdog’s pick ‘ em games. So essentially, Ohio already banned pick’em games on the books.

However, that doesn’t mean regulators can’t revisit the issue. The events in these other states could lead them to impose even stricter rules. For example, they could ban the site entirely if they offer these games.

Meanwhile, a group representing pick’em operators has run ads urging customers to help stop fantasy sports bans in some states. They are also calling out operators like DraftKings and Fanduel for trying to wipe out potential competition.

“It’s unfortunate DraftKings and FanDuel, the same companies that championed fantasy sports as skill-based for years, have changed their tune at the first sign of competition,” the Coalition of Fantasy Sports, which represents PrizePicks and Underdog released in a statement. “It’s a thinly veiled attempt to create a false narrative and position themselves as the only games in town.”

Photo by AP Photo / Charles Krupa
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C.J. Pierre

C.J. Pierre is a Lead Writer at PlayOhio. He has been covering news and sports for over a decade for both online and TV broadcasts. He was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN and is an alum of Minnesota State University: Moorhead. He recently dove into tribal casino, sports betting and online gambling news. He also covered the launch of sports betting in Arizona. C.J. has experience as a reporter and videographer and has covered high school, college and professional sports throughout his career, most notably following Arizona Cardinals, Phoenix Suns, Minnesota Vikings and North Dakota State University football.

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