Maine is the latest state to take issue with “pick'em” style fantasy contests, with its regulator saying the contests violate its gaming regulations and issuing a six-figure fine to at least one company that was offering the games in the state.
The Maine Gambling Control Unit has fined Underdog Fantasy $391,850 and ordered the company to immediately cease offering the pick'em-style games in the state.
According to the six-page order dated October 20, the regulator began investigating the legality of pick'em-style contests in May and filed a notice of complaint against Underdog in July.
Underdog has been offering the pick'em style contests in Maine since January 2021 and has accepted more than 482,000 pick'em wagers from more than 7,800 unique users, bringing in more than $1.4m in revenue on the pick'em games through October 15.
Ultimately, the regulator found that the contests are in violation of its rules governing fantasy contests, including rules against house-banked contests and how winning outcomes may be determined.
“Fantasy contests must involve more than one contestant and wagers cannot be made against the operator. Pick’em contests allow participants to place wagers against the operator,” according to the decision signed by Milton Champion, executive director of the state Gambling Control Unit.
“Further, the winning outcome of fantasy contests must be ‘determined primarily by accumulated statistical results…’ .” Champion wrote.
“A ‘winning outcome may not be based on the score, point spread, or performance of a single actual sports team or combination of such teams or solely on a single performance of an individual athlete or participant in a single actual sports event.’”
“According to Underdog, the winning outcome for a pick'em contest may be determined by the performance of individuals in one event,” the regulator added, arguing that, accordingly, the contests are in violation of the rules.
The regulator fined the company $50 for each of the 7,837 individual users to arrive at the $391,850 fine, which Underdog has 30 days to appeal. The company has already stopped offering the pick'em-style contests in Maine.
Pick'em fantasy sports contests have become among the more controversial gaming topics in the U.S. in recent months, with regulators in New York, Florida, Michigan and North Carolina taking various steps to prohibit the games.
Maine is expected to launch regulated sports betting in the state by year’s end, with the state’s four Indian gaming tribes authorized to conduct mobile betting.
Caesars Sportsbook has agreements with three of the four tribes, with the fourth tribe having yet to announce how it will offer betting.
The Gambling Control Unit is also tasked with regulating sports betting. New York and Michigan are also states where regulators oversee both sports betting and fantasy sports.