DraftKings Launches Pick6 in California and West Virginia, Closes Game Down in Maryland

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Leading U.S. sportsbook operator DraftKings has expanded its Pick6 Pick ‘Em daily fantasy sports game into two new states. It emerged on the same day regulators forced it to close down in another.

In a social media post on Thursday, Jon Aguiar, DraftKings’ peer-to-peer gaming director, revealed Pick6 has now launched in California and Virginia.

However, Aguiar later shared a less-welcome piece of news for DraftKings. That is, Thursday was also the day its Pick6 game was withdrawn from the Maryland market at the behest of state regulators.

Less than a month after the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency gave the green light for the operator to launch its version of the controversial game in the state, the regulator has reversed its decision and pulled the plug.

Pick6 and other Pick ‘Em games, which allow users to select props in a DFS format, have gained the critical attention of regulators across the U.S in recent months.

Regulatory Trends and Industry Responses

The regulatory landscape for DFS and Pick ‘Em games is becoming increasingly complex, as more states scrutinize their legality.

From the nation’s largest legal sports betting market of New York to its smallest, Maine, various regulators have either banned or discouraged the games. In Florida, lawmakers got involved directly, sending cease and desist letters to DFS operators in the state.

Regulators that have taken action usually cite the proposition part of the games as being legally indistinct from sports betting.

“The sports wagering definition in our law includes single-game bets; teaser bets; parlays; over-unders; moneylines; pools; exchange wagering; in-game wagering; in-play bets; proposition bets; and straight bets,” said Maryland Lottery and Gaming spokesperson Seth Elkin, speaking at Thursday’s meeting.

“If a competition has any of these components, it’s defined in Maryland as sports wagering, and is not permitted as a DFS offering. It can only be made available by a licensed online sports wagering platform or facility.”

This decision to classify Pick6 as sports betting in Maryland has led DraftKings to pull the game in the state, reflecting the company’s commitment to compliance.

Despite the setback, DraftKings’ leadership continue to advocate for their right to operate the game.

“Unfortunately, we’ve had to stop offering Pick6 in Maryland at this time. We hope this will change in the future,” Aguiar said in a social media post.

DraftKings’ Pick6 continues to operate in other jurisdictions where the legal framework is more accommodating.

The game is still available in states like Colorado, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Tennessee, as well as California and West Virginia, where it launched this week.  

The Future of Pick ‘Em Games

The situation with Pick6 in Maryland is indicative of the challenges and uncertainties facing the DFS industry, particularly as it intersects with sports betting.

As more states change their stances on Pick ‘Em games and similar offerings, it encourages others to take closer looks at their markets.

Interestingly, DraftKings’ Pick6 is a peer-to-peer Pick ‘Em game, which has been so far considered less controversial with regulators.

Some DFS operators have attempted to make changes around the core concept to keep on the side of rules, such as PrizePicks becoming free to play and others choosing the peer-to-peer route. However, at least for DraftKings in Maryland, this strategy has not paid off.

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