DraftKings still not learning its lessons as sharks enter group leagues and contractor wins $1 million

There hasn’t been much news about DraftKings or FanDuel. Maybe those companies want it that way after the stormy year each daily fantasy site (DFS) suffered through. There aren’t as many commercials. Those advertisements that are on television are more traditional. Gone are the testimonials and big discussions of a huge pay-day. I guess that happens when Bloomberg found 1.3 percent of players finishing in the black. The problem is that every step DraftKings takes seems to not be working.

First there was news that a DraftKings contractor won the $1 million dollar contest. The good news is that it wasn’t an official employee. They have been restricted from playing in contests. The bad news is the optics just look horrible. Deadspin and other cynic sites will have a field day just referencing that someone associated and getting paid by a DFS site is winning everyone’s money.

That’s the tough reality. Not many people win. Sharks and sharps end up taking more contests than Joe Fantasy Player who has one or two entries. That’s fine if it is a big open contest, but now daily fantasy grinders have found new targets: group games.

DraftKings and FanDuel made a big deal of having private or group leagues this year. The problem is that if a shark scans the lobby, they can enter into contests that normal entrants think are just their friends. I have a perfect example, because I entered a contest this week that was cancelled because of players with expert badges. We were told or under the impression it was a private league. It apparently was not.

For the past two years I would enter into a $10 weekly game with my friends from home. This year we had as many as 50 entrants. We thought it was just us. No one without the link or invite would join in our minds. There are no double entries so each person has one shot. It’s a fun way to keep in touch with your friends, talk trash and win some money. Well this week when I signed into the contest, I noticed two people with expert badges. I know my friends aren’t experts. I immediately knew one of them as Saahil Sud, the man who made millions off of daily fantasy. The second was ChipotleAddict. No big deal, just the No. 4 ranked player in the world.

These players have programs and bots that find them games that allow them to scrape dollars off of every contest. Sure $200 isn’t much, but when these experts do it 10, 20, 50 or 100 times it works out. The problem is we don’t want these random players in the group. It doesn’t make it fun for us when we lose our entry fees to Saahil Sud or ChipotleAddict. In fact, it makes us less likely to join a contest and for DraftKings to collect a rake. Eventually the person who created the original contest just made another game. As of now, there are no experts.

There is a simple answer to this problem. Make private games easier. Make it so a game can go off if the upper limit isn’t hit. If it is for 50 people and 46 sign up, don’t kill the game. Saahil Sud should not end up in a fantasy contest with me and 20 friends from Massachusetts that we think is just normal players.

Editors Note: We originally published the story with less than 1 percent winners. Bloomberg’s article referenced actually has the number at 1.3 percent. 

Private games are also an available option, but the total number must be hit or the game is shut down. The original post mentioned a group game the entrants thought was private, it in fact was registered as public.