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Do Daily Fantasy Sports Employees Benefit from Insider Information?

Are employees at daily fantasy sports (DFS) sites using insider information to get an edge on big money tournaments? That’s the question that’s being discussed on DFS forums after player lineups for a popular tournament were inadvertently leaked on the web last week.
DFS players became aware of the drama after DraftKings written content manager Ethan Haskell picked up $350,000 in Fan Duel’s popular Millionaire Maker Tournament.
Haskell’s is also the person who inadvertently leaked lineup data showing the percentage of DFS owners who started each player in the tournament. In the hands of an experienced numbers cruncher (and they are legion in the DFS world) advance access to this sort of data could be devastating to fair competition.
That’s why Haskell’s big win led to some seriously raised eyebrows and a furious discussion about whether DFS employees are using insider information to win tournaments at other DFS sites.
In particular, many DFS players were surprised to find out that DFS employees are not prohibited from playing on other DFS sites. Current employees of the two biggest DFS sites, Draft Kings and FanDuel, are free to play on any DFS site except their own.
As it stands Haskell has not been accused of any wrongdoing and there’s no evidence that he acted inappropriately or illegally.
At the same time, the Haskell situation is turning into yet another dark cloud over the booming daily fantasy sports industry.
As DFS finds mainstream success it’s also finding armies of new critics who say it’s nothing but thinly veiled sports betting. Just this week, before the Haskell story broke, the New York Times Editorial Board ran an editorial titled, Rein in Online Fantasy Sports Gambling.
The daily fantasy sports industry is going through some serious growing pains this season and it will be interesting to see what it looks like this time next year.