MLB Faces Class Action From Fantasy Baseball Players Over Cheating

Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch holds the championship trophy after Game 7 of baseball’s World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)

(CN) — A fantasy baseball contestant filed a federal class action Thursday against Major League Baseball, the Boston Red Sox and the Houston Astros, claiming that they cheated fans of an honest fantasy baseball competition.

“While actively inducing their fans to enter into fantasy baseball wagers based on the individual statistical performance of MLB players, MLB’s member teams secretly engaged in corrupt and fraudulent conduct, in knowing and intentional violation of MLB’s Official Rules and regulations, that produced player statistics distorted by cheating and deprived their fans,” the complaint states.

Kristopher Olson, who filed the lawsuit in the Southern District of New York, alleges that the MLB consistently promoted and engaged in fantasy baseball wagering contests through DraftKings that were “corrupt and dishonest.” Olson cited the league’s equity stake in the betting website, as well as additional agreements made with the teams.

Olson referred to an MLB investigation that found the Astros used an illegal camera system to steal signs from opposing teams in the 2017 and 2018 seasons. The league fined the team $5 million, suspended the team’s manager and general manager for a year and stripped the Astros of its top two drafts picks for the next two years.

Despite maintaining a stern anti-gambling stance throughout much of the previous several decades, the lawsuit claims that the MLB came out in full support of baseball wagering in 2015, aware of the kind of opportunities such activities could open up for the business.

As the MLB began its support for wagering, it became co-owner of the betting site, a partnership that would ultimately give DraftKings exclusive sponsorship agreements with Major League Baseball teams.

The lawsuit alleges that once the partnership was formed, the league would regularly promote DraftKings fantasy baseball contests, with the MLB going so far as to label DraftKings games as the “Official Daily Fantasy Game” of Major League Baseball.

Signage and advertising materials for DraftKings were displayed in 27 of the 30 official MLB stadiums, while two teams, the Astros and the Red Sox, also formed agreements with DraftKings to help promote DraftKings’s fantasy games.

What fantasy players were not aware of, according to the lawsuit, was that despite this wholehearted support of DraftKings and their competitions, the MLB was hiding the fact that the games themselves were anything but fair.

“Throughout this period, MLB was well aware that its member teams were engaging in corrupt and fraudulent conduct that rendered player performance statistics dishonest and undermined the validity of its fan wagers on DraftKings’ fantasy baseball contests,” the complaint states.

The suit claims that the MLB failed to inform their fans and player base of the truth behind these games, leaving devoted players to put money and time into contests the MLB knew or should have known were corrupted.

Olson is represented by David Golub of Connecticut-based Silver Golub & Teitell.

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