FanDuel rebrands; Massachusetts says yes to DFS, no to online lottery

fanduel-daily-fantasy-sports-rebrandDaily fantasy sports operator FanDuel has announced a corporate rebrand ahead of the upcoming NFL season. On Monday, FanDuel unveiled its new look, which incorporates a new color scheme, website redesign and a logo featuring a shield icon, an “age old athletic emblem” that the company says is intended to “pay homage to history’s strongest leagues, teams and competitors.” The rebrand also includes a new FanDuel Bill of Rights, essentially a stripped down, legalese-light terms of service that details the consumer protections the company formalized following last year’s ‘insider trading’ scandal at rival DraftKings. These rights include bans on third-party scripting tools, separation of player funds from operating capital, banning play by DFS staff (whether they work at FanDuel or one of its rivals) and identifying DFS sharps so newbies know to steer clear from heads-up contests. FanDuel also announced the debut of a product it calls Friends Mode, a “season-long fantasy product” that allows users to build a separate contest pool involving just their acquaintances. While the product is billed as “season-long,” it appears to be a series of traditional week-long contests that extends through the entire NFL season. Friends Mode will be officially rolled out “later this summer.” FanDuel and DraftKings made headlines last year with their inescapable TV advertising blitz but FanDuel CEO Nigel Eccles has said that his company’s 2016 TV ad budget will be less than half that of the 2015 binge, while DraftKings’ ad budget will reportedly be less than one-quarter of last year’s. The hope is that the reduced ad buys will enable the companies to finally turn a profit. Analysts at Eilers & Krejcik Gaming estimated that FanDuel paid $123 for each new user in 2015, while DraftKings spent an estimated $174 per new player. MASSACHUSETTS SAYS YES TO DFS, NO TO iLOTTERY Meanwhile, Massachusetts has become the latest state legislature to formally approve real-money DFS activity. The Massachusetts House and Senate approved an economic development package on Sunday – the last day on which new measures could be approved – that included DFS-friendly language. The bill now awaits Gov. Charlie Baker’s signature. The bill exempts fantasy sports from the state’s list of ‘illegal gaming’ activities, on the condition that operators adhere to the list of consumer protections published by state Attorney General Maura Healey last November. However, the bill takes a ‘wait and see’ approach on DFS, stipulating an end date of July 31, 2018 for DFS’ legality, although this will presumably be permanently extended if society doesn’t collapse in the interim. But in a blow to the state Lottery, language that would have authorized an ‘iLottery’ system was expunged from the bill prior to passage. A special commission tasked with conducting a comprehensive study of online gaming regulation by July 31, 2017 has been specifically told not to review “the state lottery or its ability to provide lottery products online or over the internet.”