In early October, DraftKings and FanDuel banned their employees from playing daily fantasy on competitors’s sites. These new policies came in the midst of a torrent of negative publicity, after DraftKings employee Ethan Haskell accidentally leaked company lineup data on the same weekend that he won $350,000 on FanDuel. DraftKings maintains Haskell didn’t abuse any internal information, but the incident raised uncomfortable questions about which employees had access to proprietary information, and what they were doing with it.
As part of the lawsuit FanDuel and DraftKings filed against New York seeking to be allowed to continue operating in the state, FanDuel’s information and playing policy was entered into evidence, and it is a doozy. FanDuel employees were required to read and sign the policy, which dates from before they were banned from playing on other sites.
The beginning of the policy covers its goals:
Goals: These outline what we’re hoping to accomplish by asking you (and other employees) to agree to this policy.
- Limit ability of employees to exploit “inside information” such as the picks of top users, or the win rates of potential opponents.
- Reassure any concerned site users that employees aren’t exploiting inside info.
- Reduce chance of users questioning ability of employees to exploit inside info against them when they play on other sites.
You’ll notice that the goal of the policy isn’t to prevent or disallow employees from exploiting inside information, but simply to “limit” them. The company is clearly more concerned with preventing the perception of unscrupulous behavior rather than actually preventing unscrupulous behavior. That’s as good of a summary of the full three-page document as any.
Here are the full guidelines on the treatment of confidential information:
Internal Controls & Guidelines: These are rules about how you will treat confidential information.
- Only discuss our users’ success and lineups where necessary. The less awareness of this information internally, the less chances for exploitation.
- There is an expectation that employees will only look up info such as user lineups or user win rates where needed to do job.
Roughly: We know you have access to inside information, but try not to talk about it too loudly. And we trust that you won’t use it for evil.
But the best, most shamelessly self-serving part, is the rules for playing on other websites:
Rules for Employee Play on Other Sites:
- Never be among the top five players by volume on any one site (based on site leaderboards). Never be among the top ten overall on the RotoGrinders leaderboard. Top players frequently become targets for accusations by other users.
- Never account for more than 2% of entries in any tournament of more than 1,000 entries. Never account for more than 5% of entries in any tournament of more than 100 entries. Players who swamp big tournaments with entries frequently become targets of accusations.
- Don’t be the 2nd person into a head to head contest against the same opponent in more than one contest per day. This rule will greatly limit the ability to exploit information about user performance, and will also limit the likelihood of complaints from users.
- Never use information gained from viewing users’ lineups.
- Seek to avoid playing anyone whose lineups you saw for that time period.
- You must provide FanDuel with a list of your usernames on all sites where you play for real money. We may or may not choose to reveal your employment status and identity to those sites or on other industry sites.
This is insane! The first three bullet points literally tell employees not to win too much money on other sites, because it will arouse suspicion. There is nothing preventing employees from using lineup information they saw—indeed, that’s basically impossible once it enters their consciousness—they’re just told not to do it. They don’t even have to avoid playing against people whose lineups they saw, they just have to try.
We’ve reached out to FanDuel for comment on these underwhelming policies. You can read them below.
Illustration by Jim Cooke