Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Tonight's Starting Line-Up

I submitted mine on Sunday. Hope my players do well tonight.

"DraftKings, FanDuel team up to defend integrity of games; Inside-information leak riles contestants" by Callum Borchers Globe Staff  October 06, 2015

The fantasy sports rivals DraftKings Inc. and FanDuel Inc. scrambled to defend the integrity of their big-money contests Monday, following a leak of inside information that raises questions about whether some of their employees have an unfair advantage when playing.


A DraftKings worker, Ethan Haskell, acknowledged last week in a comment thread on a fantasy news site, RotoGrinders, that he had released proprietary statistics too early — before all NFL games kicked off on Sept. 27.

The stats, posted online, showed the rates at which real players had been selected in DraftKings’ “Millionaire Maker” fantasy contest for the third week of the NFL season and could have given late entrants, or those making last-minute changes, an edge over competitors who had submitted rosters.

More troubling to fantasy contestants who vented their anger on online message boards, the leak suggested employees like Haskell might regularly use such information to put in their own entries and rack up winnings.

What, they don't like the rigged game of insider trading? Not enough fun?

While Boston-based DraftKings and New York-based FanDuel do not allow employees to play on the sites for which they work, it is common practice for workers to enter contests held by competitors.

In fact, on the same day that he posted stats too early, Haskell finished second in a FanDuel contest that had almost 23,000 entrants. He won $350,000.

Related: DraftKings employees reportedly won nearly $6 million playing daily fantasy sports at rival FanDuel

The ensuing online furor and media inquiries prompted the rivals to issue a joint statement in which they assured users that “nothing is more important to DraftKings and FanDuel than the integrity of the games we offer to our customers. Both companies have strong policies in place to ensure that employees do not misuse any information at their disposal and strictly limit access to company data to only those employees who require it to do their jobs. Employees with access to this data are rigorously monitored by internal fraud control teams, and we have no evidence that anyone has misused it.”


“However, we continue to review our internal controls to ensure they are as strong as they can be,” the statement continued. “We also plan to work with the entire fantasy sports industry on this specific issue so that fans everywhere can continue to enjoy and trust the games they love.”

Yeah, forget about the fix. Pour your money in and play!

The incident comes at a sensitive time for the companies. DraftKings and FanDuel this summer raised $300 million and $275 million, respectively, and are spending heavily on marketing to lure players early in the NFL season.

The companies are valued at $1 billion each, and all that money is coming from the sports leagues and Wall Street investors. 

I predict nothing will come of this. People having too much fun. 

Meanwhile, some lawmakers and regulators have called for review of the companies’ exemptions from gambling prohibitions.

The New York Times reported that both companies have temporarily banned workers from playing on rival websites. A FanDuel spokeswoman did not respond to a Globe inquiry. A DraftKings spokeswoman said in an e-mail that the Times story is “factually inaccurate” but did not allege specific errors or respond to a request for clarification.

A move to block inter-site fantasy gaming would probably be highly unpopular among employees of both companies. Speaking at a conference at Babson College on Sept. 25, DraftKings cofounder Paul Liberman said, “We have some people who make significantly more money off of our competitors’ sites than they do working for DraftKings.”

OMG, this WHOLE THING is a $ELF-$ERVING $WINDLE (aren't all professional sports?).

Liberman went on to explain that allowing workers to play on FanDuel is a key to retaining top talent.

Looking more and more like a looting $cheme with each sentence.

“I was actually talking to my VP of analytics yesterday, and he was like, ‘Well, this guy that’s on our team can only work 9 to 5 during football and hockey season because he spends way too much of his time playing online,’ ” Liberman recounted. “We have to let him do that; otherwise he’s never going to work for us. He adds a lot of value in terms of understanding product, understanding content.”

Qualms about the integrity of fantasy sports present a new challenge for an increasingly scrutinized industry.

The short-term fantasy sports contests run by DraftKings and FanDuel generally require entrants to put down money for a chance to win cash prizes — a system that recently prompted Attorney General Maura Healey of Massachusetts and US Representative Frank Pallone Jr. of New Jersey to question whether they should be considered illegal online gambling.

I've seen the commercials, and they are my way to wealth and riches! It's easy money (average bet $7, average winnings $23 bucks?)!

DraftKings and FanDuel maintain that in all but a handful of states, their contests are perfectly legal, based on an exemption to the federal Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act, which distinguishes between betting on point spreads and entering fantasy sports contests that “reflect the relative knowledge and skill of the participants.”

In football contests, DraftKings and FanDuel users draft real NFL players for their imaginary teams and score points based on how well those players perform on the field.

FanDuel has been the daily fantasy sports leader for several years running — a fact it touts proudly in commercials — but DraftKings claims to be catching up. At the Babson conference, Liberman said he expected DraftKings to collect more money in entry fees than FanDuel during the third business quarter of the year, adding that DraftKings had asked FanDuel to stop calling itself the “leader.”

FanDuel appeared to reject the request, as its marketing messages were unchanged over the weekend.


I did notice that ESPN covered the issue today, but I also note that many of their employees play and love it. They aren't going to ruin a good thing, and neither is Congre$$ (especially if they get their cut). 

Gotta get dressed for the game:

"City Sports files for bankruptcy, says it will sell itself off or close down" by Jack Newsham Globe Correspondent  October 05, 2015

City Sports Inc., the retailer launched more than 30 years ago in Boston by a pair of high school friends, plans to shut eight of its 26 stores and sell the rest after filing for bankruptcy protection on Monday.

If a buyer cannot be found the chain will be liquidated, acccording to documents submitted to US Bankruptcy Court in Delaware.

The filing came less than three months after the struggling chain brought in longtime retail executive Marty Hanaka as chief executive to help with a turnaround. City Sports, which is controlled by the Cambridge venture capital firm Highland Capital Partners, said that cost-cutting was not enough to offset a decline in sales caused by competition and bad weather last year.

City Sports was founded by high school buddies and tennis partners Mike Kennedy and Eric Martin on Massachusetts Avenue in Boston in 1983. It has nine stores in the Boston area, according to its website, with others in locations from Vermont to Virginia. It specializes in active wear and equipment for activities such as running, cycling, swimming, and yoga.

The company said it had $45 million in revenue from January 2015 through the day of its bankruptcy filing. It has about 815 employees, according to a declaration submitted to the court by Andrew Almquist, chief financial officer.

Despite cutting back employees’ hours, reducing shipping costs, cutting hours at several locations, and trying to bargain with its landlords for rent reductions, Almquist said the company couldn’t reduce its costs enough. His declaration did not disclose profits or losses.

Almquist told the court that it seeks to close eight stores and sell the remaining 18 by Oct. 30 to any of several buyers that have expressed interest. If no agreement is struck by the end of the month, the company will have Tiger Capital Group LLC liquidate the chain’s inventory in November and early December to “take full advantage of the upcoming holiday shopping season,” Almquist said.

Highland Capital Partners bought an 80 percent stake in the company in 2008 and owned 84 percent of it at the time of filing. When it acquired the chain, Highland said it anticipated expanding to 50 stores by 2013. Tom Stemberg, founder of the Framingham-based office supply chain Staples Inc. and a managing general partner at a Highland affiliate, said at the time that he anticipated the chain could grow to include 300 locations.

Almquist cited an “extremely competitive market” for athletic apparel, especially for products made by Nike, Under Armour, and Asics, as a reason for the company’s drop in business. City Sports stores also tend to be smaller and carry fewer products than big-box stores like those run by Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc., which has added more than 120 locations in the past three years, and Sports Authority.

“We are actively seeking financial partners for the purpose of moving the company forward,” Hanaka said in a statement. “This filing gives us the opportunity to continue as a viable going concern.”

Unless it's liquidated. 

What is without the dung-shoveling denial?

Hanaka previously served as chief executive of Sports Authority Inc. and as chief operating officer of Staples.

The company declined to make anyone available for an interview. A City Sports spokeswoman said in a statement that it “[does] not intend to close any stores in the Boston area,” but she would not release a list of stores it plans to close.

Nike USA Inc. holds the largest unsecured claim, with City Sports owing it $1.3 million, according to the filing. Under Armour, Asics, and Patagonia are each owed just over $1 million, court documents show.


Also seePutnam signs sponsorship deal with the Celtics


"Data breach poses test for fantasy sports betting" by Callum Borchers, Curt Woodward and Dan Adams Globe Staff | Globe Correspondent  October 06, 2015

The entire fantasy sports industry faces the most serious challenge of its brief existence at a time when the stakes are sky-high. As some lawmakers and regulators question why fantasy sports prize games are legal, and as DraftKings dukes it out with New York rival FanDuel Inc., some of the 57 million people who enter — and defend — the contests are suddenly wary that company insiders may have an edge.

What, people don't like being taken for suckers?

“A perfect storm — that’s exactly what it is,” said David O. Klein, a New York attorney and member of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association. “I think that the two big players, in an effort to become number one, are shooting themselves in their collective feet. The appearance of impropriety is something you don’t want to deal with, particularly where the industry now is being questioned as to whether it’s gambling, as opposed to a game of skill.”

These, of course, are the two bitter rivals that have now closed ranks and issued a joint statement saying everything is above board.

DraftKings did not respond to a Boston Globe request to interview its cofounders.

Globe has been loving the fantasy sports until now, especially in its bu$ine$$ $section.

Instead, the company issued a statement Tuesday saying it had completed an internal investigation of events on Sept. 27 that led an employee to improperly post information about which NFL players had been selected for DraftKings’ “Millionaire Maker” contest for the third week of the season.


DraftKings regularly releases such information, but only after entrants have locked their lineups, choosing the quarterbacks, receivers, and running backs they believe will perform best while adhering to an imaginary salary cap.

In this case, the employee, Ethan Haskell, published the player selection data before rosters locked on DraftKings.

Contestants who saw the table could have used it to make more informed decisions about their own lineups — finding overlooked players who could help them rise above the crowd, for instance.

When Haskell won $350,000 playing on FanDuel the same day, online message boards lit up with suggestions that he had used that information to gain an unfair advantage. Some players said the episode raised concerns that the games could not be trusted if employees of the company were using sensitive information for their own profit.


It's nothing new. I've watched sports a long time, and they appear rigged via officials. We see it all the time. Just happened the other night.

DraftKings said its investigation showed Haskell did not have access to the player data when he submitted his own roster for the FanDuel contest. He received that information after FanDuel had closed submissions, the company said Tuesday.


“There is no evidence that any information was used to create an unfair advantage, and any insinuations to the contrary are factually incorrect,” DraftKings said. Uh-huh. Then release all the information regarding winners and the cross-playing of employees.

Word is that the actual big-time winners are a very, very small slice of those playing, like a 1% slice (where have we $een this before, huh?)!!!!!!

Haskell did not respond to an interview request.

Why not? One would think he would like to get his story out rather than f*** it up in a naked moment on a blog post. 

I mean, look at the monied interests going into overdrive to protect their golden goo$e. This is $ickening.

Despite the findings of its internal review, DraftKings joined FanDuel and the Fantasy Sports Trade Association in a temporary agreement to prohibit employees from entering cash contests.

If there was never any wrongdoing and the insinuations are wrong, why? 

What $CUM!!!!!!!!!!!!!

While employees at DraftKings and FanDuel have always been barred from entering contests run by their own companies, they were allowed to play on their rival’s site.

On Tuesday, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman opened an investigation into whether the employees used nonpublic information to gain an advantage.

Fantasy sports contests have enjoyed an exemption from a federal law regulating sports betting because they are considered games of skill, not chance. That has allowed the companies to essentially regulate themselves.

But lawmakers who have questioned the distinction found in the data leak another reason to push for fantasy sports to be overseen by authorities, similar to how other forms of gambling are regulated.

US Representative Frank Pallone Jr. of New Jersey, who said last month that Congress should examine the legality of fantasy sports, renewed his call for a hearing Tuesday. “With little legal oversight and deep investments into these sites by the same professional sports leagues that oppose traditional sports wagering, these issues are ripe for congressional review,” he said in a statement.

Is he a Democrat or Republican, and why am I not being told?

ESPN, which inked a lucrative advertising deal with DraftKings earlier this year, removed its usual fantasy sponsorship messages from on-air programming while covering the story Tuesday. Commercials remained in place for both companies, however.

Yeah, and ESPN is MINIMIZING IT! I just saw their fantasy analyst on the show advising you who to play when waking up early this morning, and the 24/7 football coverage is constant. This will all blow over soon.

Fox Sports, which led a $300 million investment in DraftKings in July, did not return messages seeking comment.

That's what I like about the propaganda pre$$ as opposed to blogs; they can hold authority and officialdom's feet to the fire.

Until recently, DraftKings had enjoyed a charmed existence, raising $375 million (slightly more than FanDuel) from the likes of Major League Baseball Ventures and Patriots owner Robert Kraft while blitzing national airwaves with more commercials than Apple, Ford, and AT&T.

Oh, Bob Kraft is tied in, huh? 

Isn't that a conflict of interest?

DraftKings cofounder Jason Robins appeared on the cover of Fortune magazine just last week.

The Sports Illustrated and Madden curse comes  to Fortune!! 

This game is getting better all the time!

But DraftKings suddenly looks more like a three-year-old startup run by a trio of buddies who haven’t yet turned a profit — which, behind the influential backers and piles of cash, is what the company still is.

Oh, it's looking like some chop-shop $hit now contrary to the glitzy media imagery?? 


When a business grows as quickly as DraftKings has, it’s not unusual for its executives to postpone drawing up internal policies, such as codes of conduct for employees, said Maia Heymann, senior managing director at Cambridge-based CommonAngels Ventures. (Her firm is not an investor in either fantasy sports company.)

“It’s really tempting to pursue the growth and not do the boring, internal, nuts-and-bolts stuff — especially when competition is fierce and you’re focused on the top line,” she said.

What about the bottom line?

In one illustration of the industry’s hazily defined protocols, MLB said it was “surprised to learn that DraftKings allowed its employees to participate in daily fantasy games.”

Ted Clark, executive professor of entrepreneurship and innovation at Northeastern University, said the data leak at DraftKings is a wakeup call to sports fans who have entrusted their money to a fantasy system with little oversight.

They can't hear the horn, buzzer, whistle, whatever, over the din of the CHA-CHING, CHA-CHING!!!!!!

“There’s so much room for questions about ethics because there’s so much money flying around,” Clark said. “It’s silly for anybody playing an unregulated game for big money to imagine there’s no advantage for the pros.”

I find the attention paid by the ma$$ media to sports silly, but I guess they are just following protocol.


RelatedWhat is fantasy sports betting and why is it legal?