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Online fantasy sports giants FanDuel and DraftKings have temporarily barred employees from participating in such contests for money amid allegations that employees may have access to insider data that could allow unfair, highly profitable bets.
The companies issued statements Monday amid a growing backlash from daily fantasy players, saying the step was being taken "while the industry works to develop and release a more detailed policy."
The New York Times reported Monday that DraftKings employee Ethan Haskell inadvertently released data from the company’s “Millionaire Maker” contest that showed he had access to data that could provide players with a tactical edge.
The same week, Haskell won $350,000 playing on rival site FanDuel, the Times reported — a fact that startled the fantasy sports world and criticism about how the industry’s most valuable data is used.
There's no evidence that the information led to the employee's win and a FanDuel spokeswoman said that she did not believe there was an attempt to manipulate the contest.
In a statement posted on FanDuel's website, the company said that despite "recent attention on industry employees," FanDuel — as well as a second sports site, DraftKings — valued "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,” the statement said. “Employees with access to this data are rigorously monitored by internal fraud control teams, and we have no evidence that anyone has misused it.”
The revelations come after New Jersey Senator Frank Pallone called for a congressional review of the booming industry, which has been exempted from gambling laws and which the Fair Trade Sports Association said has 42 million players in Canada and U.S. who spend an average of $465 a year.
"It’s clear now with million dollar jackpots and the advertising that goes on that this is straight out gambling,” Pallone told told TODAY.
FanDuel CEO Matt King argued with that characterization, telling TODAY that fantasy sports betting "is very clearly a game of skill.”
Comcast, the parent company of NBC News, has invested in FanDuel.