PrizePicks makes Michigan exit as war of words over pick’em-style games continues across US
DFS operator to exit Wolverine State from November 10 as meetings in North Carolina and Colorado see accusations flying
PrizePicks has informed DFS contest participants in Michigan that it will exit the market from November 10 as the Wolverine State introduces new laws to ban certain types of DFS contests, including so-called pick’em-style games.
Informing users of its impending exit, PrizePicks confirmed that real-money DFS contests would be available provided selected projections from those contests complete by November 10.
Any projections for events which complete after this date, PrizePicks said will be ineligible for winnings, and will therefore be voided and refunded accordingly.
Season-long DFS projections for events which settle after November 10 will be honored provided they are signed off by the operator in advance, with all subsequent season-long projections voided.
The move by PrizePicks follows the Michigan Gaming Control Board introducing and later ratifying rule changes introducing a prohibition on so-called “proposition selection” style contests.
Under the rules, proposition selection contests or any fantasy contest which has the effect of mimicking proposition selection is prohibited, amid claims that these style contests are sports betting in all but name.
Similar prohibitions on pick’em-style contests have been introduced across several US states, including New York, Colorado, and North Carolina, while regulators in Wyoming, Maine, and Massachusetts have taken a tough line against DFS operators offering such contests.
Lobbying against proposed changes, PrizePicks and fellow operators Underdog Fantasy and Sleeper have accused heritage DFS operators DraftKings and FanDuel of launching an anti-competitive action to exclude them from states using a combination of political influence and lobbying.
That fight has transitioned to intense lobbying by the trio in any state where the changes are mooted, including North Carolina, where lawyers acting for Underdog Fantasy and PrizePicks have claimed the North Carolina Education Lottery Commission has exceeded its authority by proposing the changes.
In comments reported by local news site WRAL, counsels for both operators questioned the commissions actions in a public hearing, suggesting changes could be made by statute only.
“The legislature could have easily adopted the exact same language that the proposed rules have in them and it chose not to do that,” Underdog Fantasy general counsel Nicholas Green said.
“And it chose not to do that knowing full well what the fantasy sports landscape in North Carolina was on the day of passage, in which our company and other companies like ours had been operating for years and offering fantasy contests,” Green added.
PrizePicks attorney Tom Lee drew attention to the firm’s customers in the state, who would be unable to access such contests if the rule changes were introduced.
“We have hundreds of thousands of customers in this state,” Lee said.
“This proposed rule says to those North Carolinians, you’re doing something wrong, you’re doing something that you should not be allowed to do and this commission intends to stop it,” he added.
A similar debate took place in Colorado, where the Colorado Division of Gaming held a public meeting with DFS stakeholders which was attended by Underdog, Prize Picks, and FanDuel.
Officials from the Colorado Division of Gaming proposed changes to the state’s Fantasy Contest Act earlier this month, to prohibit pick’em contests.
FanDuel director of regulatory affairs Andrew Winchell, who spoke at the hearing, voiced his support for Colorado’s own changes but called for more specificity on the rules themselves to be sure which contests would be excluded.
“Is this interpreted to mean that all single-player fantasy contests against the operator are prohibited? Or only a specific subdivision of contests or specific types of contests that are played against the fantasy contest provider are being prohibited?” Winchell questioned.
Winchell, however, was rebuked by Josh Kirschner, a lawyer acting on behalf of Underdog Fantasy, who queried the operator’s tactics, following revelations concerning lobbying activities in Wyoming.
“As we’ve recently learned in an LSR [Legal Sports Report] article on Wyoming, FanDuel might not necessarily concern itself with what the rules are since they seem to get their way no matter what,” Kirschner remarked.
“It appears to look as if the rulemaking process looked at [the sports betting law] for sports wagering and tried to draw a fence around that instead of applying proper administrative procedures and making rules pursuant to the statute in [the Fantasy Contests Act],” he added.
The Colorado Division of Gaming is due to meet again on November 16 to further discuss the proposals.