Reality television recently helped turn the public's attention to the world of fantasy sports law. Following significant backlash concerning the circumstances of her first-place finish in the Millionaire Maker contest, former Bachelor contestant Jade Roper Tolbert was stripped of a $1 million prize awarded to her by fantasy sports operator DraftKings. DraftKings released a statement via Twitter that after an internal investigation, it had decided to update the standings for the contest and declared a new winner.
Why did DraftKings change the standings of its fantasy sports contest?
Jade Tolbert submitted 150 entries in the DraftKings Millionaire Maker fantasy sports contest, the maximum number of entries permitted by the contest. One of her entries was the highest scoring entry in the contest, of the more than 105,000 total entries submitted. Suspicions about the victory quickly arose when a fellow Bachelorette alum congratulated Jade Tolbert's husband on Twitter for winning the contest, rather than Jade. It was soon discovered that like Jade, her husband Tanner Tolbert had also submitted the maximum 150 entries in the Millionaire Maker fantasy sports contest and that the makeup of the 300 combined entries strongly suggested that the couple worked in tandem to increase their chances of winning the tournament. DraftKings ultimately concluded that the Tolberts violated the operator's contest rules applicable to acceptable entrant behavior, specifically, the prohibition against collusion and group play.
The Tolberts have indicated that they are considering bringing suit against DraftKings for breach of contract, notwithstanding the fact that the DraftKings terms and conditions contain a mandatory arbitration provision for resolution of any and all legal disputes.
Complying with Fantasy Sports Law
The controversy surrounding the initial victors of the DraftKings Millionaire Maker fantasy sports contest is a stark example of the value of having comprehensive, well-drafted contest rules and terms or use. Nearly every state that has legalized fantasy sports has implemented laws or regulations mandating strong consumer protection protocols operators to ensure public confidence in the integrity of fantasy sports contests. Having prohibitions against collusive behavior in its contest rules allowed DraftKings to take quick and decisive action to reverse an outcome which violated the broader public trust. This example is instructive concerning the importance of working closely with knowledgeable counsel to regularly review fantasy sports contest rules, as well as platform and prize structures.
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