DraftKings hit by Iowa’s gambling regulator for not paying attention


Christine Thurmond joined DraftKings this past February as its Director of Responsible Gaming, but the large sports gambling operator might wish she had been able to start a little sooner. The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (IRGC), which oversees gambling operators in the state, has slapped DraftKings on the wrist for not paying attention to its self-exclusion rules. Even despite the COVID-19 downturn in gambling, though, it’s unlikely the operator will feel the impact. 

When the IRGC established its gambling rules, it put in place policies to allow individuals to self-exclude, which operators had to stay on top of. The commission posts updated data on the self-exclusion list, and provided a new version on December 26 of last year. DraftKings should have updated its own list by January 2, in accordance with the regulator’s policies, had not done so by January 3, leading the IRGC to issue a fine. The policy requires that “all licensed entities in the state are required to remove individuals in the program from their marketing lists,” and a new list is published on a weekly basis. 

Because of the breach, DraftKings has to pull out the checkbook, but the amount it will pay has probably already been earned 50 times over. The IRGC hit the company with a fine of just $5,000, which isn’t much, especially considering the record gains the operator is reporting. For the third quarter of the year, it said earlier this month that it should pull down around $131 million. 

Still, the IRGC felt it needed to justify the $5,000 fine, explaining that policies were in place specifically for violations such as this. The operator only entered the state last October and had kept its nose clean, but made a slip that it had to own up to. The penalty could have been much worse, too. According to Brian Ohorilko, the IRGC administrator, “DraftKings agreed to a stipulated agreement in the amount of five to 20-thousand dollars. The Commission reviewed the facts and set the penalty at $5,000.”

DraftKings isn’t the only gambling entity to run afoul with regulators recently. Two casinos – the Rhythm City Casino and the Diamond Jo Casino – were fined for problems with their surveillance equipment dating back to 2018 and 2019. Each casino has been forced to pay a fine of $7,500 for the camera outages. 

In the case of Rhythm City, Ohorilko explains, “There was an instance in November of 2018 — the facility started experiencing some surveillance system issues — there was a complete loss of coverage on January first of 2019. It did include critical areas of the facility.” He added of the Diamond Jo issues, “There was an instance in November in 2019 where a series of camera outages occurred as a result of some upgrades that were being performed on the system. The facility was not aware those outages occurred and as such — it never really was reported.”