“The More Transparency, The Better” (March 2016, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver)
The question in a fantasy sports player’s mind today is “Am I playing on a platform which offers fair gameplay”?
Fantasy sports users pay an entrance fee, assemble teams and win based on players performance in real games. Points are managed by the fantasy team’s manager and a league commissioner is responsible for managing the overall league. The losers blame bad luck for their loss however frauds could also be the reason losers lose their stake.
Unsuspecting bettors are duped as mostly online frauds leave no trace and authorities are completely unaware about their occurrence. Integrity of the fantasy sports have concerned stakeholders from a couple of years. New York Times published an article in Oct 2015 where a DraftsKings employee was found guilty of releasing data and using it for an unfair advantage.
Common fraud types in fantasy sports
Sock Puppet frauds : Involves usage of fake identities to artificially inflate liquidity in fantasy sports. These fictitious identities are usually made by site owners to give a false impression of high activity and unsuspecting bettors bet against made-up users. This helps the site owners in a dual way:
- They show high activity on their site/platform.
- Winning pool money is under their direct control and it operates as per their whims and fancies.
Pump and Dump frauds : Fabricated facts to give false appearance of credibility and profitability of a fantasy sports league. This task is accomplished by computer controlled bots. False news such as key player injury, false weather forecasts contribute to value fluctuation due to mass incorrect information dissemination.
Data Scout frauds : Data scout is a filter through which all information related to the sport must pass, data scouts login information in real time on the site from the actual location. They act as the only link between game and the virtual world. There have been instances where data scouts are manipulated and insiders place a bet on an event that has already happened.
These frauds are based on the concept that information flow can be manipulated and/ or controlled. In such frauds, data scouts are asked to make a dummy game and enter it in the system. Though such frauds are rare, they have caused severe losses to bettors in the past in one-off exhibition events during offseasons and semi-pro leagues.
Who is responsible for frauds in fantasy sports?
Employees with access to data, player information, bettor information are in a position to easily manipulate the odds in their favour. As they are virtually no fraud control mechanism evidence of misuse can hardly be gathered.
Vulnerability of fantasy sports industry
Unprotected bet deposits.
Unprotected bonus funds.
Funds susceptible to unauthorized withdrawals.
Inability to access funds if needed.
Unfair information circulation
Usage of software scripts to automate tasks
Unprotected user information
Users want an informed choice option which is secure and transparent in fantasy sports.
Fantasy sports industry is striving to protect the integrity and boost the credibility and it has been suggested that it should be more streamlined.This is on the cards but as speculations are it may take few years to bring it into practice.
Is there any technology which can allow ensure that users enjoy a fair play experience till such regulations are in place?
Blockchain is a cutting edge technology which makes fantasy sports more transparent and accountable. It will help track fraudulent entries, verify authenticity of bets and make fantasy sports tamperproof.
Blockchain removes the problem of trust issues by enhancing transparency in fantasy sports industry. Blockchain uses a decentralized system based on co-ordinated independent nodes network thereby not giving any particular person a centralized advantage in the process. Network of nodes verify the information by consensus ruling out the possibility of an undetected fraud. Blockchain also allows users to be connected to a global network thereby boosting the transparency of the gaming industry.
Blockchain technology will help to identify and assess malicious patterns.Tracking of all operations would be easier due to immutable data records. Blockchain will also be a channel of verifiable randomness in fantasy sports.
Blockchain can easily be implemented in fantasy sports. Fantasy sports modules can be linked with smart contracts which will help in fair execution of the processes like scoring rules, winner determination and much more. This ensures that the scoring parameters cannot be tempered by anyone in future, not even by the fantasy sports platform operator himself.
All the financial transactions like entry fees and winnings withdrawal can be done using cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. This helps in reducing frauds, immediate settlements, drastically lower fees. The biggest benefit of implementing cryptocurrency is that it opens your fantasy sports platforms to the world as crypto currency is free from any government oversight and is not bound by the exchange rates, interest rates, transactions charges or other charges of any country. So, it can be used at international level transactions with ease.
Blockchain has also tapped into market intelligence, and is now being used to provide users with correct game based information based on “Proof-of-Skill” consensus algorithm.
To sum up integration blockchain technology with fantasy sports will help in maintaining transparency and security of the industry in a decentralized manner along with providing the users a fair game experience.