Single-player DFS may seem like an oxymoron to old-school DFS fans who enjoy peer-to-peer play through DraftKings and FanDuel. But it’s real. So real, in fact, that states are cracking down on sites they think may be operating outside the law.
Wyoming got the attention of DFS operators PrizePicks and Underdog Fantasy early this year when the state sent the operators cease-and-desist letters regarding their pick’em games.
Now Massachusetts – one of 23 states that actively regulates DFS nationwide – appears to be on alert. Massachusetts Gaming Commission Interim Executive Director and General Counsel Todd Grossman told the commission at its public meeting Tuesday that MGC staff is looking for any overlap between DFS and sports wagering in the Commonwealth.
“That is to say whether there are certain activities offered by DFS operators that may be considered sports wagering activity that’s been addressed in a number of jurisdictions now,” said Grossman. He didn’t name any operators specifically.
What MGC staff finds — if anything — may make its way before the full commission in the future, Grossman said. Right now, the situation is under review.
The Single-Player DFS Hubbub
Single-player DFS is now being offered in dozens of US states, including those without legal sports betting. But it differs from traditional DFS in that games are not peer-to-peer but played by one player against the house in parlay-style lineups.
Verse Gaming CEO and Founder Dan Zimmerman explained the intricacies in a featured analysis published by Gaming Today in January:
“The single-player fantasy products of today trample over the modern interpretation of fantasy sports to enable the user to play in parlay style, gambling-adjacent contests against nobody else. These single-player games pit a player’s skill against the odds, effectively demanding a user to beat extremely low probabilities on 3-, 4-, and 5-leg prop parlays to ever walk away with a profit.”
Zimmerman says that single-game DFS has become a way for many players to “mix their single-player fantasy gaming experiences with traditional sports betting.”
But in a legal climate where sports betting is regulated while DFS is often allowed without formal DFS laws, the waters have become muddied.
States Likely to Have Final Say
What happens next is uncertain except for one thing: jurisdiction.
Zimmerman wrote in Gaming Today that re-regulation would fall to the states, not the federal government.
“An overhaul of fantasy sports legislation would not take place on the federal level. Instead, States that regulate fantasy sports would re-evaluate and reform their application and renewal processes for applications currently classified as fantasy sports,” he wrote.
It remains to be seen if Massachusetts would be among them.
As Grossman told the Massachusetts Gaming Commission today: “That is an issue before us that is starting to take shape.”