Sports betting law analyst Law 360 has reported that daily fantasy sports (DFS) contestants look set to file a host of proposed class actions against Major League Baseball’s (MLB) Houston Astros.
The proposed legal proceedings follow on from the 2017 cheating scandal surrounding the franchise, with the argument put forth by the plaintiffs stating that MLB had a duty to protect their interests because it knew, or should have known, about cheating during games.
Quoted by Law 360, David Marroso of O’Melveny & Myers LLP, specialists in litigation and sports issues, stated: “These particular claims are new and different because of the assertion that Major League Baseball created and undertook a duty to fantasy players by partnering with fantasy companies for economic reasons and failed to protect the plaintiffs who did not know about the cheating while Major League Baseball knew or should have known.”
In recent history, courts have seemed to rule against claims made by sports fans and ticket holders complaining that a game was blurred through cheating or officiating errors. With this being said, the report does state that, although unlikely, DFS players and sports bettors stand a better chance of emerging victorious.
Marroso added: “The allegation that Major League Baseball is partnering with these fantasy leagues created a duty that did not heretofore exist, and second, in that duty, Major League Baseball failed to discharge it fairly because Major League Baseball knew or should have known what the Astros were doing, and they point to the memo from 2017 to demonstrate the prior knowledge.”
The case in question regards the sign-stealing scandal involving the Houston Astros, in which an investigation by the league confirmed reports that the franchise had used cameras to steal the pitch signs of opposing teams and gain an advantage.
Since then, the MLB has been the subject of numerous suits from DFS participants who contest that the league partnered with DFS operators and encouraged money to be wagered, despite having sufficient knowledge of DFS contests being tainted due to cheating.
Don E N Gibson, sports law and business professor at Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, defended MLB’s position. “Those who gamble do so on their own volition and assume the risks associated with games of chance.
It is important to note that the leagues do not manage or control the gambling activity. So it would be extremely difficult to prevail on a claim that what happens on the field is linked with the gambling activity.”