DraftKings’ Pick6 Game Pulled By Maryland Regulators

Written By Phil West on December 29, 2023
Photo of people pulling a rope with a DraftKings logo on story about state regulators nixing Pick6 game.

Just two weeks after DraftKings’ Pick6 game became available to players in Maryland, it’s been taken away.

Despite approving the daily fantasy sports-style game originally, the Maryland Lottery halted it on Dec. 21, citing the game’s peer-to-peer aspect as being outside its sports betting regulations.

The ruling is somewhat confusing considering daily fantasy sports is legal in Maryland, and several companies, including DraftKings, are licensed to offer DFS in Maryland.

It’s a landmark ruling in that state gaming regulators have determined that pick’em games are not sports betting.

Pick6 players compete against other players

The 2021 sports betting bill, HB 940, that legalized sports betting also made daily fantasy sports legal. Currently, more than a dozen companies offer daily fantasy sports in Maryland.

The Pick6 game remains available to DraftKings customers in 16 states. There have been no reports whether other states are considering banning the game. California, Missouri and West Virginia have recently approved the game.

Pick6 is described by DraftKings as “a peer-to-peer fantasy sports variant,” which enables participants to “compete against each other by building lineups of athletes (called a ‘Pick Set’) in a single sport and selecting whether or not their chosen athletes will outperform a statistical projection during real-world sporting events. The goal for participants is to make more correct picks than the other participants in each contest. Winning entries receive a share of the available prizes.”

A press release touting the game’s launch on Dec. 6 said it is “based around a simple ‘more or less’ mechanic for individual player statistics.”

Corey Gottlieb, DraftKings’ chief product officer, said Pick6 is the “next great example” of DraftKings’ “innovation in fantasy sports.”

“This is a homegrown, peer-to-peer product that taps into our customers’ desire for fun, simple-to-play experiences tied to their favorite athletes. We are excited to give our customers another way to experience live sports by competing against each other.”

Maryland Lottery says game does not fit under sports betting regulations

Seth Elkin, managing director of communications with the Maryland Lottery, released a statement that did little to clear up the confusion.

“Maryland’s sports wagering law has a broad definition of wager types that are defined as sports wagering as opposed to daily fantasy sports. There are competitions that may be permitted under the DFS laws and regulations in other jurisdictions, but aren’t permitted here.

“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. 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.”

Pick6 was initially offered for NBA and NFL games.

Despite no longer having Pick6 as an option, Maryland continues to enjoy a robust sports gaming industry.

November saw the highest single month of total sports wagering handle in state history with $550.7 million. It was 14% higher than the $483.1 million bet in October.

Photo by Shutterstock/Illustration by PlayMaryland
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Phil West

Phil West is a longtime journalist based in Austin, Texas, whose bylines have appeared in The Daily Dot, Nautilus, Pro Soccer USA, Howler, Los Angeles Times, Seattle Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, San Antonio Express-News, Austin American-Statesman, and Austin Chronicle. He has also written two books about soccer.

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