DraftKings Adds Pick’Em Offering In CA Despite Grim Legal Outlook

Written By Adam Hensley on January 9, 2024 - Last Updated on January 11, 2024
A picture of the California map for a story about how DraftKings expanded its offerings in the state with a game type several states have banned.

DraftKings was a driving force behind the failed 2022 ballot initiative that would’ve brought sports betting to the Golden State. But that isn’t stopping the Boston-based fantasy sports giant from expanding its presence in a different area.

At the end of December, DraftKings announced the launch of its new pick ’em-style daily fantasy sports game, Pick6, in three new states. Now, the game is available in West Virginia, Missouri, and California.

The legality of daily fantasy sports in CA

California sports betting is going nowhere at the moment. But like most other states, there aren’t any laws expressly prohibiting daily fantasy sports in California, at least for now.

Prior to its recent expansion, DraftKings launched its pick’em product in Maryland, Minnesota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Wisconsin on Dec. 6. But a regulatory decision in Maryland forced DraftKings to pull its product in that state.

Maryland isn’t alone in making that move. Several other states have banned these fantasy sports pick ’em style, claiming it’s too close to sports betting prop bets. In fact, California is looking into the legality of the entire industry.

Last November, Sen. Scott Wilk, a Republican from Santa Clarita, requested the AG prepare an opinion on the industry’s legality. Thus, DraftKiings’ California expansion is a questionable one.

What is DraftKings Pick6?

DraftKings’ latest California offering is a peer-to-peer fantasy sports game. Each user creates a lineup of two to six athletes within the same sport. Then, they pick whether they will go over or under a certain statistical projection for the game.

Whichever team notches more correct picks than the others wins the contest. Since there is usually a tie atop the leaderboard, the winning entries receive an equal share of the prize pool.

The structure is eerily similar to the games outlawed in other states. But there is one key difference. Those other games have players competing against the house. Whereas DraftKings set up their pick ’em game with the players squaring off against one another.

Each entry for a Pick6 contest is $1, according to DraftKings’ website. Each dollar represents a single entry, meaning if a user puts down a $10 entry fee, that player has entered the contest 10 times.

There is a limit, as no participant can exceed 150 entries for a single contest. Winnings then go directly into users’ DraftKings accounts.

DraftKings’ Pick6 is only available for the NFL and the NBA. It’s legal in the following states:

  • Alaska
  • California
  • Georgia
  • Minnesota
  • Nebraska
  • New Mexico
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Utah
  • Washington, DC
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin

DraftKings already has a presence in California

Technically, DraftKings has already been operating in the Golden State. But just not in a pick’em style. DraftKings boasts a traditional slate of daily fantasy sports options in the state.

California residents love their DFS games. Experts believe that Califonia customers make up as much as 10% of the total national DFS entries. This makes sense, given how large the population is and no legal sports betting options.

Nationally, DraftKings is one of the industry titans regarding DFS. DraftKings and competitor FanDuel make up more than 90% of the market in the US.

Could DraftKings’ latest move signal sports betting on the horizon in California?

To put it simply: No.

There are plenty of rumblings in California when it comes to sports betting. At least four tribes recently came out to support a new sports betting initiative. But many other tribes are against it. Even if the tribes agreed, the amendment states that the earliest sports betting could launch is July 2025.

Don’t think of DraftKings’ recent moves as a signal of incoming sports betting to California. Instead, it’s more likely the company believes DFS is an extremely viable option going forward.

Photo by PlayCA
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Adam Hensley

Adam Hensley is a journalist with experience covering online sports betting and gambling across Catena Media. His byline has appeared in the Associated Press, Sports Illustrated and sites within the USA Today Network.

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