MLB says DFS isn’t gambling, but league will restrict players’ DFS activities

TAGs: daily fantasy sports, fanduel, Major League Baseball, siriusxm

major-league-baseball-daily-fantasy-restrictionsMajor League Baseball (MLB) won’t let its players participate in daily fantasy sports (DFS) contests involving baseball if those contests involve the chance to win a prize.

One week after MLB significantly expanded its relationship with DFS operator DraftKings, ESPN reported that the league had reached a deal with its players’ association to restrict players’ DFS activities. Players will still be allowed to participate in DFS baseball contests provided there’s no chance to win something of value. There are also no restrictions on participating in non-baseball DFS contests and players retain the right to enter into endorsement deals with DFS baseball sites.

At this week’s IMG World Congress in Los Angeles, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred attempted to split hairs by saying that, while he doesn’t view DFS as gambling, players who enter DFS baseball contests for prizes will be subject to discipline under Rule 21, which deals with gambling issues.

Specifically, Rule 21 threatens players with a one-year ‘ineligible’ status for betting on any baseball game in which they’re not involved and a ‘permanently ineligible’ designation for betting on any game in which they’re directly involved. That latter designation is what’s keeping former Cincinnati Reds great Pete Rose out of the Hall of Fame.

EPSN’s sources said the negotiations between MLB and the players’ association over DFS activities were concerned with “conflict of interest or at least the appearance of a conflict of interest” if players were in a position to alter their play to influence the outcome of a DFS contest. Manfred is reportedly looking to extend the DFS prohibition to all non-playing personnel as well.

Meanwhile, the DFS media turf war shows no signs of letting up. One week after word broke that DraftKings was negotiating a $250m deal with Walt Disney Co. that included an exclusive content deal with Disney’s ESPN property, DraftKings’ archrival FanDuel is reportedly negotiating a similarly exclusive deal with satellite radio provider SiriusXm.

On Wednesday, Eilers Research analyst Adam Krejcik (@akrejcik) tweeted that FanDuel was “going to announce a big exclusive sponsorship deal with SiriusXm; will effectively block all other DFS providers.” FanDuel already has an exclusive deal with, while NBC Sports and Comcast have investment stakes in FanDuel. Tune in next week, when DraftKings locks up PBS and FanDuel inks an exclusive with the same cable access channel that brought us Wayne’s World.


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