William Hill Files Lawsuit on FanDuel over Sports Betting Guide
William Hill US filed a “willful copyright infringement” lawsuit against rival sports betting operator FanDuel in a US District Court in New Jersey on Wednesday. William Hill claims FanDuel duplicated its sports betting tutorial in ways which were unmistakable.
FanDuel operates a New Jersey sportsbook at the Meadwowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, while it also has a sports betting app available for New Jersey bettors. William Hill operates New Jersey sportsbooks at the Ocean Resort Casino in Atlantic City and the Monmouth Park Racetrack in Oceanport.
Wayne Parry, an Associated Press reporter who covers Atlantic City, wrote in an article that “FanDuel’s duplication of the guide was so blatant that it even used the same hypothetical examples of one pitcher facing another pitcher.”
Other citations in the lawsuit suggested that the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins were discussed verbatim in examples of NFL betting.
William Hill Lawsuit against FanDuel
The lawsuit asked for an unspecified amount of damages in the case, though William Hill wants “a portion” of any cash won in the lawsuit to go to a good cause. Joe Asher, the CEO of William Hill US, said in a press release, “We are not litigious people, but this is ridiculous. If the court finds in our favor, a portion of the proceeds will fund scholarships for creative writing programs at New Jersey universities.”
The civil action filed states that FanDuel is guilty of “willful copyright infringement under copyright laws of the United States.” FanDuel, originally a Scottish daily fantasy sports site which based its headquarters in New York City, was purchased by Paddy Power-Betfair earlier this year.
Paddy-Power Betfair and FanDuel
As such, FanDuel is a big part of Paddy-Power Betfair’s plans for US sports betting expansion. Paddy Power began as an Irish bookmaker, while Betfair was a UK-based sports betting exchange. Betfair itself has a 10-year association with Meadowlands Racetrack through its TVG and TVG2 brands, which have broadcast racebook programming since 2008.
After Paddy Power-Betfair acquired FanDuel, the company announced FanDuel would produce sports betting-related broadcast content for TVG and TVG2. As a recognized sports gaming brand, FanDuel was a natural for such programming.
FanDuel’s Sports Gaming Resources
FanDuel also has a database of over 6 million real money US daily fantasy sports competitors. While all such DFS owners might not be interested in sports betting, a large percentage of them are the perfect demographic for marketing a sports betting product. Access to that database made the FanDuel acquisition a huge boon for Paddy Power-Betfair’s full entry into the American sports betting scene.
Beyond that, FanDuel had developer gaming apps for the daily fantasy sports community in the United States. Such software development was easy to port over to a live in-play sports betting app, which is now being used in New Jersey.
FanDuel’s $82,000 Glitch
FanDuel is no stranger to controversy in the burgeoning new US sports betting scene. Last month, after the FanDuel live betting app had a glitch that gave bettors a 500-to-1 odds on a 1-to-3 field goal opportunity (in a Broncos-Jets game), a pair of sports bettors won $82,000 on that 1-to-3 betting proposition.
Originally, FanDuel refused to pay the sports bettors their winnings. The FanDuel cashier cited New Jersey sports betting laws which stated that the bookmaker is not required to pay off winnings on obvious mistakes. Legally, FanDuel was on solid ground to deny the sports bettors. Instead, they offered $500 and some merchandise.
FanDuel Paid Off NFL Sports Bettors
In a brand new sports gambling industry, legal and public relations decisions do not always mesh. Since the two sports bettors were New York City residents who traveled into New Jersey to make their bets, FanDuel’s decision not to pay up led to bad publicity in the local New York City media.
Ultimately, it would have cost FanDuel potential customers to refuse to pay winnings. Two days later, the sportsbook reversed its position and paid off the two lucky sports bettors, who shared the same betting ticket.
FanDuel’s How to Bet Betting Guide
The William Hill lawsuit threatens FanDuel with another bit of bad press in a short period of time. If William Hill’s contentions are true, then the producers of FanDuel’s “How to Bet Betting Guide” plagiarized William Hill’s “How to Bet Guide” in obvious ways.
William Hill’s lawyers claim the football section of the betting guide begins with a verbatim recitation of their own football betting guide. The example used in both guides involves the Philadelphia Eagles versus the Washington Redskins, a 1:00pm kickoff time, and a bet where the Eagles are a three point favorite over the Redskins.
The British bookmaker claimed in the lawsuit, “FanDuel has injured William Hill in an amount to be determined at trial, and has caused and will continue to cause irreparable injury to William Hill.”
The part of the William Hill sports betting guide that the lawyers claim was taken verbatim reads: “The most basic way to bet on football is a straight bet on the point spread. When making a straight bet, the team the player bets must cover the point spread. This means that the favored team must win by a stipulated number of points.”
William Hill vs. Paddy Power-Betfair
The rivalry between William Hill and the Paddy Power-Betfair predates their American operations. The lawsuit is a sign their competition in the United States is going to be particularly cutthroat. While it has struggled of late in the UK and international markets, William Hill appears to have the early advantage in the USA.
William Hill owns or operates 108 of the 128 sportsbooks and betting shops in Nevada. Also, it recently signed a 25-year partnership with Eldorado Resorts, which owns 21 casinos in 11 US states. William Hill also signed a deal this year to partner with IGT in attracting US state lotteries to get involved in sports betting operations. The company’s strategy for expansions looks impressive on paper.
In comparison, Paddy Power-Betfair and FanDuel’s operations are latecomers to the game. That being said, Paddy Power has looked for different avenues into the American sports betting scene. Its TVG and TVG2 productions have targeted famous American figures in the US sports broadcasting and podcasting scenes. Those programs could attract an audience for FanDuel-related operations, driving customers to Paddy Power-Betfair sportsbooks in a more efficient way.