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FanDuel CEO Disappointed With Industry Coverage From Two Mainstream Networks




FanDuel CEO Disappointed With Industry Coverage From Two Mainstream Networks

Last weekend, two mainstream news magazines examined the convergence of technological innovation, rampant advertising, and heightened risks for problem gambling in the emerging sports betting industry.

ESPN’s Outside The Lines ran a four-part series on a bevy of issues across the industry, before 60 Minutes delved into the cat-and-mouse game between sportsbook operators and certain cohorts of bettors with an investigative segment last Sunday.

On the eve of the Super Bowl, FanDuel CEO Amy Howe expressed disappointment with a perceived lack of objectivity in the reporting.

In particular, Howe took exception with the programs’ failure to adequately address the perils of the offshore market. Howe, who has served as FanDuel CEO since 2021, did not mention either program by name in a brief interview with Sports Handle.

“We found it incredibly disappointing because it didn’t acknowledge what has actually happened in the last five years since the market opened up. You have taken an illicit market just shy of 50% of the U.S. population and brought it into light,” she said while on Radio Row in Las Vegas. “As one of many regulated operators, we’re adhering to a certain set of standards that the illegal market isn’t in protecting minors. We have very strict controls around anti-money laundering, our marketing is scrutinized, and we’ve invested a tremendous amount of resources in responsible gambling.”

The rapid of growth of artificial intelligence (A.I.) and machine learning has served as a hot topic at Radio Row, held this week at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, down the street from the Super Bowl.

Two industry leaders, Amazon Web Services and Genius Sports, held panels on the proliferation of cutting-edge technology in sports, and numerous speakers on both panels spent an inordinate amount of time discussing use cases for A.I. in sports betting, with the Super Bowl in Las Vegas for the first time.

As a former executive at McKinsey & Company, a prominent think tank, Howe has been a proponent of using artificial intelligence for detecting behavioral markers for risks of compulsive gambling.

“We’re making huge investments in A.I. right now, in everything from how we use artificial intelligence to spot problematic play, but also from a cyber perspective,” she said. “We have to be vigilant because there are a lot of bad actors who are using technology to try to destabilize our platforms.”

— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) February 5, 2024

Matt Zarb-Cousin, a responsible gaming advocate in the U.K., obtained data logs from Flutter that indicated that the company used about “93 different” data points to gather information on a customer, including deposit times and effective advertising inducements. (Flutter is the parent company of FanDuel.) As a point of clarification, Zarb-Cousin’s public information request pertained to U.K. activity at Flutter, not any that involved FanDuel in the U.S.

According to 60 Minutes, Flutter has completed steps to restrict vulnerable bettors, while banning some outright. While FanDuel and main rival DraftKings have taken similar steps to restrict problem gamblers, neither company provided specific examples, the program reported.

FanDuel ended 2023 as the U.S. leader in sports betting market share, Flutter noted last month.

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