PlayUSA Rewind: A DraftKings Investigation, MI Partnerships, Looking Into NY & CA Sports Betting Movement

Posted on January 14, 2020

Not sure what to dislike more: January and how long it is, or the person who first noticed how long January is and pointed it out to everyone and not everyone notices how long January is.

Fortunately, a long month translates to a busier month in the US online gambling world. And, fortunately, that world did not disappoint last week, from potential cheating in daily fantasy sports to the continued expansion of retail and online sports betting nationwide.

Time to unpack the news and rewind.

A big DraftKings DFS payday comes with allegations of cheating

Millionaire Maker winner emerged from the DraftKings daily fantasy sports field – along with a cloud of controversy.

Former “Bachelor” contestant Jade Roper Tolbert came away with the contest’s top prize of $1 million. A reality star bringing attention to the daily fantasy sports industry? Score.

Then, independent investigations began. And it seems as if Tolbert, whose husband also plays DFS, might have violated DraftKings’ terms of service as well as several state laws pertaining to daily fantasy contests.

Tolbert and her husband both maxed out with 150 entries at $20 each for the Millionaire Maker, which is DraftKings’ big-pool contest during the NFL wild card weekend. According to her tweet confirming it, Tolbert finished atop the standings to claim the top prize.

The problem, however, is the likelihood that the couple worked together to, in essence, find a loophole in DraftKings’ maximum entry limit, one that is also supported by state laws.

Per DraftKings’ guidelines, the DFS operator does not allow “group play,” which is “team-building complementary lineups which serve to work together and executing a strategy that may create any unfair advantage over individual play.”

That said, until (and if) it is proven, this all remains speculation.

First online gambling partnerships form in Michigan

The gears in Michigan wasted little time getting into motion.

Both PointsBet and The Stars Group announced partnerships with land-based casinos, allowing the bookmakers to move forward with obtaining sports betting licenses in the state and explore other online gambling options.

The two operators – both already active in the national expanding gambling marketplace – each teamed with a tribe to power online and retail sportsbooks in the state. PointsBet will also develop an online casino, while The Stars Group has another market in which to launch its Fox Bet brand.

Certainly much more action is expected in Michigan, as 24 other casinos could potentially pair off with sports betting, online casino and online poker operators.

From MGM to Penn National to DraftKings and FanDuel, a cornucopia of stakeholders sit on the threshold of potential entry into Michigan.

The race is on.

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California, New York showing early sports betting movement

Since the expansion of state-regulated gambling picked up speed nearly two years ago, the country’s most notable and populous states – in one way or another – have oddly remained sidelined.

Take New York, for example. Its sports betting industry has launched, but it remains in retail mode – a nice boon for nearby New Jersey and Pennsylvania, both of which boast online betting options. And California? That’s a whole snarled mess that few lawmakers desire to untangle.

That is … until now.

California sports betting

While uber-preliminary, California’s Department of Finance and Legislative Analyst’s Office has submitted a fiscal impact estimate report for a proposed tribal initiative that would legalize sports betting at the state’s Indian casinos and racetracks.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has just over two weeks to provide a summary of the report, which, when completed, would signal tribes to begin collecting signatures to push the initiative to the November ballot.

According to the impact report, the state’s 65 tribal casinos would be authorized to offer roulette, dice games and sports betting if added to their existing compacts. Sports betting, though, would not go live until Jan. 1, 2022. With this expansion, state revenues would jump by tens of millions of dollars and raise minimum spending levels for public schools and community colleges.

As written, however, this tribal plan does not include online sports betting.

New York sports betting

Speaking of that, at least one lawmaker in New York believes Gov. Andrew Cuomo will come around to the idea of mobile wagering this year.

As Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. told Legal Sports Report, Cuomo could use online sports betting to help balance the state’s $6 billion budget deficit.

Addabbo outlined how $12 million licensing fees once proposed in the Senate, combined with issuing casino licenses within the New York City area, could account for more than $1 billion toward the deficit.

Addabbo and company got its budget proposal, which included online wagering, in front of Cuomo last year. But the governor and the Assembly rebuffed it all.

Now, however, Cuomo might be more open to the idea considering the depth of New York’s fiscal shortcomings. Whether included in the executive budget proposal or added in later through Assembly and Senate negotiations, online sports betting in the state could gain traction in 2020.

Grant Lucas Avatar
Written by
Grant Lucas

Grant Lucas is a longtime sports writer who has covered the high school, collegiate and professional levels. A graduate of Linfield College in McMinnville, Grant has covered games and written features and columns surrounding prep sports, Linfield and Oregon State athletics, the Portland Trail Blazers and golf throughout his career.

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