On Tuesday, William Hill US filed a civil suit in New Jersey federal court accusing FanDuel of copyright infringement. Specifically, FanDuel stands accused of replicating a ‘How To Bet Guide’ Hills developed to educate novice New Jersey bettors ahead of the state’s launch of legal wagering in June.
The lawsuit notes that FanDuel issued its own (ahem) ‘How To Bet Betting Guide’ ahead of its launch of a sportsbook at New Jersey’s Meadowlands Racetrack in July. This guide was distributed in the form of a printed pamphlet and also appeared online via FanDuel’s New Jersey sports betting website.
The lawsuit contains numerous examples of the FanDuel guide’s wholesale duplication of large bodies of text in the Hills guide, including specific wagering examples in which the same teams, scores and odds match to a T.
But the money shot comes when FanDuel included a reference to certain types of bets as “professional wagers offered by William Hill” rather than swapping out Hills’ name for FanDuel’s brand. If a Hills lawyer was reading this to you, this is the point where he’d drop the mic and saunter off stage.
Hills is seeking a jury trial, at which the extent of the “irreparable injury” it has suffered at FanDuel’s hands will be determined. Hills wants the court to award it “all damages sustained” via FanDuel’s shoddy practices and “all profits realized by FanDuel due to its wrongful acts,” plus statutory damages, legal fees and court costs.
William Hill US CEO Joe Asher told ESPN that his company wasn’t a litigious bunch “but this is ridiculous.” Should Hills prove victorious in court, Asher said a portion of the damages paid by FanDuel “will fund scholarships for creative writing programs at New Jersey universities.” Not litigious, perhaps, but definitely willing to twist the knife.
FanDuel’s New Jersey transition from its daily fantasy sports origins to single-event sports betting operator hasn’t been a smooth one. Its first month was dogged by a cockup in which it mistakenly claimed it couldn’t pay bettors their winnings due to the lateness of the hour. Last month, FanDuel decided to end a growing public relations nightmare by paying over $82k to a punter who took advantage of a palpable odds error.
Ironically, FanDuel’s plagiarism cockup is just the kind of thing that its mischief-making parent company Paddy Power Betfair would have had great sport mocking had it happened to one of its UK rivals. Your play, Paddsters.