Hit and Run: DraftKings Bails Out FantasyHub, Poker in Trouble in Netherlands, WSOP ‘Shuffle Up and Deal’ Auction

Alex Weldon : March 11th, 2016


DraftKings has decided to take over the outstanding accounts of defunct rival FantasyHub. Dutch courts have ruled that the luck component of poker is sufficient to make it gambling and not a contest of skill. The World Series of Poker and One Drop are auctioning the right to share the spotlight with this year’s November Nine. Macau casinos have an organized crime problem.

DraftKings Trying for the Moral High Ground

As many suspected, the ongoing regulatory crisis surrounding daily fantasy sports in the US has begun taking its toll. The latest casualty is FantasyHub, which has found itself in financial difficulties and unable to honor its players’ account balances. Taking a page from PokerStars’s playbook post-Black Friday, industry leader DraftKings has decided to invest a few hundred thousands of dollars in bailing out all the FantasyHub users who would otherwise have lost their bankrolls. What DraftKings will get in return is firstly to have all those users’ accounts migrated over to its own platform, some of whom will presumably become DraftKings customers as a result, but more importantly, to generate some goodwill among the gambling community.

This sort of PR move is important for DraftKings at a point in time when the company is being viewed rather cynically by the general public and lawmakers alike. It was, after all, a data leak at DraftKings that kicked off the scandal which ultimately led to the current situation in which the fate of the entire daily fantasy sports industry hangs in the balance. More to the point, the amount of money DraftKings needs to shell out here is minimal relative to the nine-figure sums which the company had spent on advertising prior to the scandal or, for that matter, to the amount it cost PokerStars to make good on Full Tilt’s debts back in the day.

Although DraftKings’s motivations are obvious, the move is surely a great relief for those who had money on FantasyHub. Still, FantasyHub is not the first DFS site to go under in recent months, and it probably won’t be the last.

Quick Hitters

- The luck vs. skill debate in poker is a never-ending one, with both sides winning small victories in one place only to lose ground in others. The latest battle has gone against the poker world in the Netherlands, where the Amsterdam Court of Appeal has declared that the luck elements of poker make it gambling and not a contest of skill, overturning previous decisions made by lower courts.

- According to the University of Hong Kong, Chinese triad gangs are heavily involved in the Macau gambling scene. Personally, I’m shocked: casinos in bed with the mob? Is nothing sacred?

- Caesars Entertainment and the World Series of Poker are auctioning off front row tickets to this year’s November Nine, including a backstage tour and the right for the winning bidder to deliver the official “shuffle up and deal” announcement to kick things off. Proceeds will go to the One Drop charity.

- James Guill at PokerUpdate has some opinions on who should be drafted as wildcards for the GPL, including Allen “Chainsaw” Kessler and journalist Kevin “Kevmath” Mathers, also known as the Most Patient Man on Twitter. I’ll second Guill’s recommendation for Kevin, if only to hear the other players needle him with questions about whether the GPL events are re-entry.

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