Games story poised for movie

FanDuel’s growth and legal rows set for big screen


Nigel Eccles: (photo by Terry Murden)
Nigel Eccles: (photo by Terry Murden)

Studio buys rights to book

Fantasy Sports company FanDuel could soon be the focus of a true life story – its own. The company’s explosive growth into a billion dollar company followed by a year of lawsuits and power struggles may be turned into a movie.

TriStar Pictures has taken an option on the film rights to The Big Game, a forthcoming book on the rise and threatened fall of the fantasy games companies in the US.

Reports from America say the studio has moved quickly to sign a contract on the book by Sports Illustrated’s Albert Chen which will be published next year.

It is drawing comparisons to Michael Lewis’s 2010 book The Big Short set in the world of traders and analysts who predicted the housing bubble of 2008.

In a few years daily fantasy sports has grown into a multi-billion dollar industry and FanDuel, headquartered in Edinburgh and New York is one of only two Scottish unicorns – a company valued at $1 billion – the other being Skyscanner.

FanDuel, which launched in 2007, has grown substantially and pays out $2 billion in prize money each year.

Some have questioned how far the industry can grow, while others have drawn parallels to the financial sector which got ahead of itself before the crash.

There is already speculation on whether a film could achieve the same success as Adam McKay’s  2015 movie adaptation of the traders’ story.

It would also prompt much talk about who would play FanDuel founders Nigel and Lesley Eccles, and rival DraftKings’ CEO Jason Robins.

The other major casting role would be for the part played in the story by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman whose attempts to close down the games for allegedly breaching online gambling laws is a central theme of the story.

Another comparison with  The Big Short is that the daily fantasy sports industry involves similar handling of algorithms and even involved some of the same people.

One other character likely to be high on the cast list is Ethan Haskell, the DraftKings employee who won $350,000 on FanDuel, prompting allegations of “insider dealing”. That incident led to an agreed ban on company employees playing the games.

There have also been run-ins with top sports stars in the US.

Washington Redskins player Pierre Garcon filed a class-action lawsuit against FanDuel, claiming the site used his name and likeness without permission.

FanDuel said Garcon’s allegations were “without merit: because they go against established fantasy sports practices.”

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