FanDuel Already in Trouble With Massachusetts Regulator Ahead of Mobile Sports Betting Launch

  • FanDuel’s three offending ads included iGaming, free bets, using prepaid or credit cards to bet
  • The MGC said FanDuel has removed two ads and is “in the process” of pulling the credit card ad
  • While noting FanDuel was responsive, the MGC wants the firm to flag its own potential violations
  • First Assistant AG Patrick Moore said betting TV ads send the wrong message to his young son
FanDuel app
Ahead of Friday’s mobile sports betting launch in Massachusetts, MGC commissioner Eileen O’Brien has flagged three FanDuel ads for violating state advertising regulations. [Image:]

FanDuel called out

On the eve of the launch of mobile sports betting in Massachusetts, Eileen O’Brien, commissioner of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC), has flagged three FanDuel advertisements for potential violations of the state’s advertising regulations.

a third ad pushed using prepaid cards or credit cards to bet

According to NBC Boston on Thursday, the Massachusetts Investigations and Enforcement Bureau (IEB) reviewed the FanDuel ads in question. The IEB found one ad referenced iGaming, another offered free bets, while a third ad pushed using prepaid cards or credit cards to bet, which is illegal under state law.

MGC regulations also ban ads that imply sports betting is a risk-free undertaking. Commissioner O’Brien, who saw the FanDuel ads while watching TV, stated the ads contained a “myriad of violations all happening right before launch.”

NBC cited an MGC exec as stating FanDuel has taken two of the offending ads down and “was in the process” of pulling the credit card ad.

O’Brien firing warnings

While O’Brien said FanDuel was responsive to her concerns, she placed firm emphasis on the fact that the Flutter-owned brand didn’t self-report the potential violations, saying: “I want this brought up in front of us for some sort of action.” She added:

They’re responding to us flagging them, and we are inundated with ads.”

One of O’Brien’s suggestions was to have the commission allocate a slot in their meeting agendas for the IEB to inform commissioners about advertising and possible violations.

In response to concerns raised by Massachusetts Attorney General Andrea Campbell’s office, meanwhile, commissioners have expressed their openness to amending their sports betting regulations. Chairwoman Cathy Judd-Stein has stated that the commission will consider any suggestions, and has requested that Campbell’s office provide specific regulatory language before March 23.

Mixed messages

Mass. First Assistant AG Patrick Moore also raised concerns about how social media and TV platforms might direct ads at people younger than the states’s legal betting age, 21. He suggested operators be required to exclude audiences under a certain age from their advertisements.

Moore gave an example of how he and his 10-year-old child watch the Boston Celtics on connected TV “every night” and that the message his son’s getting is that:

to enjoy the Celtics game, he’s got to bet on it.”

The mobile sports betting market opens up in Massachusetts on Friday. The MGC has given the green light for Barstool Sportsbook, BetMGM, Caesars Sportsbook, DraftKings, WynnBET, and FanDuel to launch.

The MGC gave an early sign of its doggedness to enforce its rules in December, taking a seven hour meeting to review WynnBET’s online sports betting license application. Its approval made WynnBET the first to receive a Massachusetts online sports betting license.

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