Court dismisses college football data rights claim

26 October 2018

The American Gaming Association (AGA) has called for athletes to embrace sports betting rather than attempt to “extract fees” after a court dismissed three former college football stars’ claims for payment for use of their game stats.

An Indianapolis court ruled former Northern Illinois University (NIU) players Akeem Daniels, Cameron Stingily and Nick Stoner did not have to be recompensed by DraftKings and FanDuel for the use of their names and statistics. The case was initially filed in 2016 when the two companies were solely daily fantasy sports operators, although they now both offer sports betting.

The claimants cited Indiana’s right of publicity law which states that a company cannot use a person’s name or likeness without permission. However, Justice Steven David said the law had not been violated "because the use falls within the meaning of 'material that has newsworthy value,' an exception under the statute.”

The ruling was in line with a previous federal court decision, which was also dismissed because of the 'newsworthiness' exception. R. Stanton Dodge, DraftKings' chief legal officer, said "sports statistics - and the ability for all fans to freely access them - have always been at the centre of the American sports fan experience."

Reflecting on the Indianapolis decision, Chris Cylke, the AGA’s vice-president of government relations, told iGamingBusiness.com that athletes, teams and rights holders should embrace the opportunities heralded by the legal betting sector developing across the US, which could be worth $4bn per annum for sport according to recent AGA research.

“This builds on the already extensive jurisprudence concluding facts are not protected under IP and/or right of publicity laws,” Cylke said.

“As it relates to sports betting, we hope this further encourages sports leagues and player associations to work constructively with the gaming industry to establish a robust legal market for betting, which our research shows will be worth more than $4bn in new revenue to them.

“Attempting to use legislatures and the courts to extract fees and direct payments from sports book operators severely undercuts the prospects of success for a legal market that can benefit consumers, operators, leagues and governments alike.”

One organisation that is embracing the sports betting sector is the NHL’s New Jersey Devils who this week became the first major league sports team to agree to host a betting zone within their home arena. Their deal with William Hill, which will see a dedicated lounge installed at the 19,500-capacity Prudential Center in Newark, has been welcomed by the AGA.

Cylke told iGamingBusiness.com: “The emergence of new advertising partnerships between operators and sports teams further underscores the fact that the gaming industry has been embraced by Americans as a mainstream form of entertainment.

“AGA is committed to working with our members and other stakeholders to ensure sports betting advertising is done responsibly, whether on television, the internet or in stadiums and arenas around the country.”