Flutter Entertainment — parent company of FanDuel Sportsbook — has come under scrutiny in New York for lobbying against stricter responsible gambling regulations in the state. Over the past few weeks, FanDuel has petitioned for regulators to reject multiple proposals that would enhance protections for problem gamblers.
FanDuel Opposes Proposed Responsible Gambling Rules in New York
As America’s top sportsbook and one of the top US online gambling brands, FanDuel has become a household name in recent years. With a history rooted in daily fantasy sports and product advertising that saturates mainstream media, the brand is relatively popular among college-age audiences.
Despite this, recent lobbying efforts suggest that the company isn’t entirely keen on providing extra protection to these players. The Guardian was first to report the findings, confirming documents that detailed FanDuel’s opposition to new advertising regulations.
A Sept. 27 memo details FanDuel’s pushback on a rule prohibiting operators from using questionable “keywords or similar methods” marketing to problem gamblers and at-risk groups.
For instance, the commission said, sportsbook operators should not be able to attract person who Googles the phrase “problem gambling help” to their sportsbook by integrating the keyword into its website.
According to New York state gaming commission general counsel Edmond Burns, FanDuel argued that the proposal was “extremely subjective and impractical to enforce,” comparing the rule to “a liquor store not being able to advertise to customers who ‘may be’ alcoholics.”
FanDuel proposed a compromise that if the rule must be implemented, it should be limited to those who are “known” problem gamblers. According to the commission, this solution fell short and would not properly address the issue though.
FanDuel has also voiced objection to another recent proposal suggesting that operators should be held liable for any potentially “false, deceptive or misleading” claims made by affiliates when marketing their products.
FanDuel Lobbied Against College Advertising Ban
FanDuel recently also voiced opposition to a rule banning sports betting ads within a certain proximity to college campuses, citing the proposal’s vague verbiage as the point of opposition. The commission countered, saying that the proposal’s ultimate intent is to protect underage students from “predatory marketing.”
FanDuel ultimately lost its battles with New York’s latest sports betting regulations, with the new rules enacted this past October.
FanDuel Objects To Daily Fantasy Rules
Sports betting isn’t the only place where FanDuel’s pushed back on regulations recently. In the realm of daily fantasy sports, FanDuel objected to a rule deeming operators “strictly liable” for granting minors or any other form of prohibited person use of their product.
Additionally, FanDuel lobbied against a proposal to add problem gambling assistance messaging to advertisements. The problem, said FanDuel, was the limited advertising room available for such a request.
The other unspoken issue, however, is that adding RG messaging to fantasy advertising would be admitting that DFS is inherently gambling.
Much like FanDuel’s sports betting objections, these daily fantasy grievances were ultimately dismissed.
Marketing For Sports Betting Targets Younger Audience
In New York and most other states where sports betting is legal, the gambling age is 21. For Daily Fantasy Sports, the legal age is 18.
When it comes to growing legal markets, sports betting operators often preach responsible gambling. Once markets are live, however, this messaging often shifts.
Problem gambling lobbyist Brianne Doura-Schawohl explained:
“It’s the biggest hypocrisy. It seems not only disingenuous to the public, but also the policymakers that probably took many of them at their word that responsible gambling was a priority.”
FanDuel might not have won this round, but it certainly showed its hand. Doura-Schawohl continued, saying that these industry giants are:
“. . . utilizing consumer welfare and responsible gambling practices to legalize markets. But when there is an opportunity to influence regulations, they are trying to overturn and undo any obligations they have to the very consumer protections they promised were a pillar of their business.”