10 Massachusetts DFS Operators Receive Cease & Desist Letters; Underdog, PrizePicks Not Included

Written By Dan Holmes on February 29, 2024 - Last Updated on March 4, 2024
MA DFS Operators Receive Cease & Desist

The Office of the Attorney General sent cease and desist letters to 10 Massachusetts daily fantasy sports operators this week, explaining that their pick ’em style products fall under the state’s definition of sports betting and thus violate Massachusetts gaming laws.

Notably, DFS brands PrizePicks and Underdog Fantasy did not receive letters and remain fully operational in the Commonwealth.

DFS Pick ‘Em Contests are Alleged to be Parlay Wagers, Violating MA Gaming Laws

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts seems intent on eliminating pick ’em fantasy games. In its estimation, these contests are no different than parlay bets — which are only legal when placed via a licensed MA sportsbook.

In a DFS pick ’em contest, users bundle a series of player performance categories and pick whether the final result of those statistics will be over or under a specific number. Whereas traditional DFS games exist in a league setting where players pit themselves against other customers or the leaderboard, these “pick ’em” style contests are played against the house.

This, the MA Attorney General’s office argues, is a large part of the problem.

The letter read in part:

“This type of wager is a parlay. The Gaming Labs International Standards for Event Wagering Systems, GLI-33, which is incorporated by reference into the Massachusetts Gaming Commission’s regulations for Sports Wagering Equipment, 205 Code Mass. Regs. 243, define a parlay as ‘[a] single wager that links together two or more individual wagers and is dependent on all of those wagers winning together.’ Such parlays are expressly included in the definition of ‘sports wagering’ set forth in G.L. c. 23N, § 3. Because ‘pick’em’ games are sports wagering, they are not ‘fantasy contests’ as that term is defined in G.L. c. 12, § 11M1/2.”

Attorney General Andrea Joy Campbell said:

“My office will not hesitate to enforce [Massachusetts laws on fantasy games] as a matter of public health and consumer protection.”

MA DFS Operators Receive Cease & Desist Letters For Pick ‘Em Games

To address the problem, the MA AG office sent cease and desist letters to these 10 daily fantasy sports brands currently operating in the state:

  • Boom Fantasy
  • Chalkboard Fantasy Sports
  • OwnersBox
  • Parlay Play
  • Real Time Fantasy Sports
  • Sleeper
  • Splash Sports
  • StatHero
  • Vivid Picks
  • Yahoo! Daily Fantasy Sports

The action by the Attorney General’s office was welcomed by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, which does not regulate daily fantasy sports but is responsible for regulating sports betting in the commonwealth.

MGC Chair Cathy Judd-Stein, who will retire later this year, said:

“To ensure a safe, legal and regulated sports wagering market, every operator in Massachusetts must play by the same rules.”

Underdog Fantasy, PrizePicks Still Operating In Massachusetts

Two popular Massachusetts DFS operators, however — Underdog Fantasy and PrizePicks — did not receive cease and desist letters. That’s because neither company is offering pick ’em games to Massachusetts customers.

Both have plans to launch sportsbooks in the future, although neither brand has applied for an MA sports betting license as of yet.

These two operators have faced similar issues in other states, ultimately leading them to adjust their product focus and offerings. For instance, Underdog recently transitioned from pick’em games to free-to-play games in North Carolina in anticipation of its sportsbook debut in the state on March 1. And both Underdog and PrizePicks have been ordered to cease all Florida operations by March 1.

Ultimately, more than 10 states have considered regulations against pick’em contests in the past year, including:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Florida
  • Virginia
  • Wyoming

Daily fantasy sports contests, meanwhile, remain legal in Massachusetts and the vast majority of other US states.

Photo by Zerbor | Dreamstime.com
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Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes is a Staff Writer for PlayMA with plenty of experience under his belt. Dan has written three books about sports and previously worked for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Major League Baseball. He also has extensive experience covering the launch of sports betting in other states, including Ohio and Maryland. Currently, Dan is residing in Michigan with his family.

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