Games firm 'lays off 60 staff'

FanDuel agrees $6m settlement over ‘false advertising’

Lesley Eccles (photo by Terry Murden)
Lesley Eccles (photo by Terry Murden)

FanDuel and rival fantasy sports games company DraftKings will each pay $6 million to New York state to resolve lawsuits relating to false advertising.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced the settlement on Tuesday, ending a long legal fight between his department and the two companies.

They agreed earlier this year to halt operations in New York after Mr Schneiderman alleged last November that they were involved in illegal gambling.

Legislation signed in August enabled them to re-enter their biggest market. Tuesday’s settlement also resolves claims that they misled players about campaigns highlighting get-rich-quick prize payoffs

New York-based FanDuel and Boston-based DraftKings confirmed that a settlement had been reached. FanDuel spokeswoman in the US Justine Sacco said the negotiations were “tough but fair.”

The deal came as FanDuel co-founder Lesley Eccles revealed she was moving to the US amid renewed speculation of a merger with DraftKings. FanDuel has declined to comment on reports that it has laid off 60 US staff.

The advertising campaign at the centre of the investigation ran ahead of the 2015 NFL season, peaking with an advert on national TV every 90 seconds for three weeks. At the time, FanDuel chief executive Nigel Eccles said the company was among the US’s biggest television advertisers.

However, the campaigns, together with a controversy over a DraftKings employee winning $350,000 playing in an NFL contest on FanDuel, drew the attention of legal authorities and legislators. Mr Schneiderman issued cease-and-desist orders to DraftKings and FanDuel, charging the companies with illegal gambling and false advertising.

Forfar-born Mrs Eccles, a regular on the Scottish speaking circuit in recent months, is stepping down as executive vice-president of marketing.

Mrs Eccles, who sits on the board of Enterprise Scotland, said she had decided to relocate to New York because she and her husband “became like ships that passed in the night”.

The move comes at an interesting time with FanDuel launching its UK games in August. It says it has so far paid out £100,000 to British-based players.

It is also in the throes of moving into new Scottish headquarters in nearby offices at Quartermile in Edinburgh.

Mrs Eccles said she would not be working full-time after moving across the Atlantic in order to reclaim more time for herself and their family.

Mr and Ms Eccles founded FanDuel in Edinburgh in 2009 with chief product officer Tom Griffiths, head of design Rob Jones and lead engineer Chris Stafford.

The marketing role has passed to Los Angeles-based chief marketing officer Mark Irace.


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