Maryland is cracking down on some daily fantasy sports platforms, and PrizePicks might pay the price.
The platform has been down since Tuesday in Maryland, which is among the states where regulators have determined the platform has waded into the sports betting waters.
PrizePicks, a platform where users parlay fantasy point totals for pro sports players, lives in a bit of a grey area. It operates in some states that have DFS available but has been a source of contention for regulators.
A spokesperson for the platform said PrizePicks officials hope to return to the Old Line State. But that might have to wait until after online sports betting goes live in Maryland sometime down the road.
PrizePicks is still operational in Virginia and Washington, D.C.
PrizePicks suspended amid dispute over state DFS law
According to PrizePicks, the state recently notified the popular DFS company it is in violation of state law.
The DFS company cited “emergency changes in Maryland’s Regulatory Scheme.” It added that the platform “was no longer compliant with Maryland’s regulatory requirements.”
In the interim, PrizePicks has suspended operations in Maryland.
“Neither PrizePicks nor any of the other vendors affected by this ruling were contacted or consulted in advance,” PrizePicks said in a statement to PlayMaryland.
However, the state contends it hasn’t changed any rules or regulations of late. Rather, it had clarified certain regulations that say DFS is a fantasy competition in which players compete against other players, not the operator.
PrizePicks claims this stipulation was an emergency measure recently added and didn’t exist when it was licensed in September 2021. There were no other related changes to the fantasy or sports betting statutes that would have changed PrizePicks’ status, the company said.
What does the state law say?
Some of what’s included in the law’s definition of sports wagering include the following:
- Single-game bets
- Teaser bets
- Over-under and moneyline wagers
- Exchange and in-game wagering
- Proposition and straight bets
“Maryland’s laws and regulations spell out clear differences between daily fantasy sports and sports wagering,” Maryland Lottery and Gaming told PlayMaryland.
Maryland operators are prohibited from offering competitions that include such wagers. Companies in the state that offer both fantasy and sports wagering are required to remove the latter. However, they may continue to run fantasy competitions.
PrizePicks says it was previously fully licensed to operate, and that it respectfully disagrees with the state’s position. The DFS platform is part of the Fantasy Sports and Gaming Association.
“We remain 100% confident in the legality and categorization of PrizePicks as a skill-based Daily Fantasy Sports operator,” PrizePicks said.
What is PrizePicks?
For the last four months, PrizePicks has offered an alternative for DFS participants in Maryland. Instead of specific player prop bets like other apps, PrizePicks focuses on fantasy points. Users analyze whether or not a certain player will go over or under the set amount of points.
So, why was PrizePicks operating at all if mobile sports betting is not yet legal in Maryland?
In 2012, the state passed a bill stating that fantasy sports are exempt from gambling laws. However, this legislation was passed long before DFS’s rise in popularity. Maryland officials revisited the bill in 2017. They passed a revised set of rules and guidelines that kept DFS legal within the state.
Even so, PrizePicks didn’t come to Maryland until late 2021 when retail sports betting was made legal. Currently, physical sportsbooks exist at five of the six casinos, with more licenses expected to be granted in the near future.
PrizePicks already does not operate in several states
According to the PrizePicks website, the platform operates a real money game in the United States and Canada. In addition, “by depositing or placing an entry, you are representing and warranting that you are NOT located in any of the following states:”
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- West Virginia
All of this may be a moot point when the state officially ushers in mobile sports betting later this year. Although, the best-case scenario for such to be legalized appears to be the beginning of the NFL season.
Until then, however, PrizePicks says it will work with Maryland officials on finding a middle ground moving forward.
“We look forward to collaborating with Maryland authorities to create common sense regulations that best serve the state’s residents by allowing for open competition amongst all licensed operators,” PrizePicks said.
If you’re a PrizePicks member, the company says it will be sure to “keep our valued Maryland members abreast of all developments and updates about a return to the Maryland market.”