Most degens are savvy enough to read the fine print in sportsbooks’ promotional deals. However, some people in Massachusetts were not, and DraftKings was hit with a class-action lawsuit last week as a result. As if that isn’t a big enough blackeye on the industry, one writer predicts that 2024 will feature a betting scandal. Not with an athlete, though – within the media. It’s not all bad news, though. Vermont announced it will launch mobile betting in January, and states like New York, Iowa, Kentucky, and Maryland are seeing increased handles and revenue.
DraftKings Hit With Lawsuit; Betting Scandal Predicted For 2024; Vermont Launching Mobile Betting
DraftKings was hit with a class action lawsuit in Massachusetts last week. The suit was filed by the Public Health Advocacy Institute (PHAI) and its Center for Public Health Litigation on behalf of Massachusetts citizens who opened DraftKings Sportsbook accounts in response to an advertised $1,000 bonus sign-up promotion.
The lawsuit alleges that members of the class, plaintiffs Shane Harris and Melissa Scanlon, were not aware that to qualify for the sign-up bonus of $1,000 at DraftKings, new customers were required to make an initial deposit of $5,000 and had to gamble $25,000 on certain qualifying bets over a finite period. If they did all of that, they would qualify to receive non-withdrawable credits to use on the platform.
According to the suit, Harris and Scanlon were confused about why they never received their $1,000 bonus from the sportsbook.
“Shane and Melissa are typical of many thousands of people in Massachusetts who were misled by the bonus offer and would not have signed up had they understood DraftKings’ unfair and deceptive requirements,” said the Institute’s executive director, Mark Gottlieb.
“Online gambling is creating a public health disaster with increasingly addictive products right before our eyes,” said Daynard. “In fact, massive advertising using unfair and deceptive promotions to hook customers on an addictive product bears an uncanny similarity to what the cigarette companies used to get away with.”
It’s unclear at this point when the case could ever see the inside of a courtroom or a settlement could be reached.
DraftKings spokespeople did not respond when asked for comment.
2024 Will Feature A Sports Gambling Journalism Scandal
According to Brian Moritz, 2024 will feature a sports gambling scandal for a sports journalist. Writing for the Nieman Journalism Lab, which works to help journalism figure out its future in the Internet age, Moritz’s prediction works around the theory that money is evil and journalistic integrity is waning.
“It’s an area ripe for a scandal,” he says in the article. “There’s simply too much money involved, too many tangled webs between media and gambling companies, too much information, and too many things to bet on.”
He adds, “The same way Donald Trump’s candidacy is a test for the norms and practices of American political journalists, legalized sports gambling is a test for the norms and practices of sports journalists.”
Moritz Says There Are Two Potential Areas For Scandal
The first is insider trading. This has to do with a journalist receiving sensitive information and then placing a bet before reporting the news. One media outlet, ESPN, has tried to get ahead of this. It prevents reporters and insiders from betting on sports they cover on its sportsbook, ESPN Bet.
The second has to do with incorrectly reporting on news that can shift betting lines. Moritz sites a recent example: “We saw this over the summer, when Shams Charania, who covers the NBA for The Athletic and has a commercial partnership with FanDuel, reported a potential change in the draft stock of Scoot Henderson, leading to a shift in betting lines (because remember, you can bet on everything).” It’s important to note that Charania didn’t profit from any bet.
“This year, the conditions are ripe for a bigger, more consequential version of this,” wrote Moritz. “What are those conditions? The money, combined with the lack of professional ethical guidelines around sports journalism and gambling.”
Moritz concludes that something should be done to fix this before it becomes problematic.
“But given the stakes — the overall credibility of the profession and all sports journalists — it’s time to address these questions head-on and give sports reporters and editors ethical guidelines to work under,” wrote Moritz. “The credibility of the profession could be at stake.”
Vermont Announces Launch Date For Mobile Sports Betting
The news isn’t all doom and gloom this week. Vermont residents will soon be able to place legal bets on their Catamounts.
Vermont Gov. Phil Scott announced Tuesday that online sports wagering will begin January 11 in the Green Mountain State. DraftKings, FanDuel, and Fanatics Sportsbook were selected by the state’s Department of Liquor and Lottery to operate in Vermont.
In June, Governor Scott signed a bill legalizing online sports wagering. He authorized the Department of Liquor and Lottery to contract with sportsbook operators through a mobile platform.
The bill also provides additional resources to enhance the State’s responsible gaming services. The State will receive a percentage of each operator’s Adjusted Gross Sports Wagering Revenue in addition to an operator fee.
The new online sportsbook operation is expected to generate up to $7 million in new revenue during the first year.
“I first proposed Vermont legalize sports wagering several years ago, and it’s good to see it come to fruition,” said Gov. Scott.
Vermont is one of 38 states to legalize sports betting either in-person, by mobile, or both. This leaves just North Carolina as the only state that has approved online sports betting but hasn’t launched yet. Betting in person is allowed in North Carolina at select casinos on Tribal land.
States Continue to Report Positive Earnings
The good news keeps coming. Several states recently announced positive revenues and other numbers as it relates to sports betting.
Kentucky, which has been live for two months, announced tax revenue associated with sports betting has generated nearly $8 million.
Director of Sports Wagering Hans Stokke gave the official report in a Horse Racing Commission meeting.
“The total year-to-date sports wagering excise tax collected is $7,940,753,” said Stokke. “Preliminary reporting for November shows this trend continuing as Kentucky patrons wagered more than $260 million, with a peak activity occurring through the Thanksgiving holiday, which generated a $73 million total handle.”
Revenue generated by sports gambling in Kentucky goes to the oversight of sports wagering, establishing a problem gambling fund, and primarily helping Kentucky’s pension systems.