The biggest daily fantasy sports companies DraftKings and FanDuel have faced some serious threats to their business operations in recent months. Despite the claims of these companies that their online activities are games of skill, others are calling daily fantasy sports clearcut gambling. Illinois, among a number of other states, have sought to ban these companies from conducting illegal gambling operations. Now the daily fantasy betting companies are facing an additional threat, in the form of a class action lawsuit from former football players.
Last month, Akeem Daniels filed a lawsuit against both DraftKings and FanDuel. The former Northern Illinois Huskies running back is seeking $5 million in damages from each of these companies, alleging they have profited off of his name and likeness, as well as those of countless other college football players. This lawsuit is not intended to be on behalf of the former Huskie alone, but instead is structured to gain other plaintiffs and be certified as a class action lawsuit.
This lawsuit may be similar to the college sports lawsuit filed back in 2009 over allegations that the National College Athletic Association (NCAA) was profiting from college basketball players. Ed O'Bannon, the former UCLA Bruin filed the lawsuit against the NCAA, for earning money off college players' images and likenesses in video games. A federal judge eventually ruled against the NCAA to the tune of almost $46 million.
Although other players have not yet joined in the Daniels lawsuit, the complaint indicates more than 2,000 other players may be eligible to join as plaintiffs, including a number of named Northern Illinois players.
According to the complaint, the daily fantasy sports companies assign a salary to the name and likeness of each of the included college football players. Users of DraftKings and FanDuel are given a limited amount of money to compile a team of players listed on the site, and their created fantasy team will play against other players, based on the actual football players real-life game statistics.
In a more novel argument, the lawsuit also claims players may be concerned that fantasy sports players may contact the athletes out of their financial interest in seeing the player perform well, or perform poorly if the athlete was chosen for a competitor's team. Specifically, the complaint claims, “Defendant's unlawful business model puts Plaintiff and Class Members at unwanted risk of contact with speculators whose interests align with 'corruption in the form of fixed outcomes and point-shaving.'"
Last year, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan issued an advisory opinion against the daily fantasy giants, stating their contests amounted to illegal gambling under the law. DraftKings and FanDuel filed challenges against the state's position, but already lost similar challenges in New York and other states. The real fight may come later this year, when football season starts up again, and these companies look to cash in on the national fantasy sports craze.
If you believe that yourself and others have been taken advantage of, you may be eligible for financial and injunctive relief under the law. If someone is illegally profiting from you or if someone is discriminating against you based on your race, sex, or religion, you should speak with your experienced Illinois attorneys. Contact the team of Benassi & Benassi, experienced Illinois lawyers who have successfully represented their clients in Peoria and throughout the state, to make sure they get the justice they deserve.