A recent New York Times report exposing practices in the fantasy football world akin to the insider trading that garners such heavy-handed repercussions in the financial sector, was apparently not lost on ESPN. The Worldwide Leader, which has partnered with and airs many fantasy football commercials from sites like FanDuel and DraftKings, has apparently pulled some of their daily fantasy sports (DFS)-sponsored content in the wake of the recent controversy involving DraftKings employee Ethan Haskell.
ESPN hasn't altogether removed fantasy sports ads, but they do seem to have limited certain "elements" of the immensely popular and ever-growing phenomenon in their programming.
"ESPN today continued running commercials for the two main daily sports fantasy companies, but has removed sponsored elements from within shows," ESPN's "Outside the Lines" host Bob Ley said Tuesday at the outset of a segment focusing on the Haskell report, according to Chris Littman of Sporting News.
Haskell, a formerly little-known DraftKings Written Content Manager who has become the center of the DFS-controversy in the last day after he won $350,000 playing fantasy football on rival website, FanDuel.
As this Larry Brown Sports report shows, Haskell has been making quite a bit of money via fantasy sports since joining DraftKings in June 2014. He made $350,000 as a result of the NFL's recent Week 3 games, which kicked off the controversy, but he's been raking in the cash ever since he became privy to certain inside information while working for the fantasy football company.
Part of the Haskell controversy has come from his posting a "percentage owned" chart for DraftKings' Week 3 Millionaire Matchmaker prior to the start of some of that week's remaining games, potentially allowing some players to alter their lineups last-minute to achieve better results based on the numbers.
This would make Haskell's knowledge of this information and likely use of it in setting his own weekly lineups on FanDuel, beyond questionable. RotoGrinders has since released a statement, suggesting that Haskell did not have access to this data prior to lineups being locked for the week.
Still, the entire controversy has created something of an unstoppable train of concern where daily fantasy sports sites like DraftKings and FanDuel are concerned. If players believe they're facing a stacked deck, it may not cause them to stop betting altogether, but it certainly could cause them to think twice.
And really, the entire industry may be at risk here. ESPN hasn't pulled commercials, but they're obviously concerned enough by the findings of the report and thus, likely the legitimacy of the games, to limit certain fantasy-related content. If these issues of "insider trading" and lack of regulations continue, the fantasy sports world could be in trouble.