PrizePicks, Underdog React To DraftKings Cashpicks Trademark Request

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Back on May 11, and without fanfare, DraftKings filed a request with the United States Patent and Trademark Office to trademark the name “DraftKings Cashpicks.”

This hiding-in-plain-sight nugget was brought to gambling Twitter’s attention Monday by “Captain” Mike Dzikowski, a self-proclaimed “DraftKings BigTymer.” As to what, exactly, “DraftKings Cashpicks” is, well, that’s a little muddier. A representative for DraftKings declined to comment, and the trademark application simply states it is “downloadable mobile applications for use in fantasy sports competitions.”

But even though DraftKings isn’t saying what its plans are for whatever Cashpicks is supposed to be, some competitors are jumping into the fray with their own ideas.

“We heard their strategy was ‘first we’re going to kill Underdog and PrizePicks and then we’re going to build it,’” said Jeremy Levine, the founder and co-CEO of Underdog. “They couldn’t kill pick ‘em since it fits squarely within the fantasy laws, so it’s no surprise they’re now building it.”

In short: Levine believes that DraftKings (along with FanDuel) has been working with lobbyists and regulators to convince lawmakers to ban fantasy pick ‘em contests of the type Underdog and PrizePicks run. (Both companies have fantasy contests where customers pick a number of More/Less predictions on players’ statistical projections, and if the user is right, they win money.) Levine detailed these charges in an August Twitter thread as well as in a letter to the “Underdog community.” (Representatives from both DraftKings and FanDuel did not respond to questions about Levine’s accusations.)

“If you can’t beat’em, join’em”

But now, after hearing about the Cashpicks trademark, Levine believes DraftKings is taking an “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” approach to daily fantasy pick ‘em contests.

A spokesman for PrizePicks also had a similar takeaway.

“We welcome competition all the time, and a competitive environment is best for everyone,” said Steven Kerstein, PrizePicks head of customer relations and market intelligence. “At the end of the day we want to be pushed to make the best fantasy product out there and it is a compliment that a company as well-respected as DraftKings comes in and challenges us.”
So if – and it’s only an if – DraftKings is seeking to expand its offerings into pick ‘em style contests, one fair question is why.

And the answer is almost certainly money and market share.

For instance, in Michigan – where pick ‘em contests are legal, as is sports betting and daily fantasy – PrizePicks has been simply crushing FanDuel and DraftKings in fantasy sports revenue.

For 2023, and through the month of August, PrizePicks has taken in over $8.5 million in revenue in Michigan. DraftKings has taken in $3.1 million, and FanDuel $1.2 million. (Those numbers do not include sports betting or online casino, just fantasy contests.)

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The story is similar in Arizona. In June – the latest month with data – PrizePicks did over $591,000 in revenue compared to DraftKings’ $144,212. (Underdog did $87,371 and FanDuel a paltry $29,933.)

In fact, according to a VIXIO report, in the three states that break out fantasy revenue by operator – Michigan, Arizona, and Massachusetts – PrizePicks has 53% of the market share, compared to 23% for DraftKings and 10.5% for FanDuel.

Also notable: All these companies are operating legally in California, Texas, and Florida – three states where sports betting remains illegal (and where nearly 30% of America’s population resides).

But while PrizePicks and Underdog (Underdog is also the leader – at least in prize money – in Best Ball fantasy contests, a market in which DraftKings is a competitor) are seemingly doing well financially, they don’t operate in as many states as DraftKings and FanDuel. The reason? Critics say the pick ‘em contests are nothing more than sports betting, and some state regulators agree.

Wyoming is the latest, sending cease and desist letters to both Underdog and PrizePicks this past summer.

All of this prompted Nicholas Green, Underdog’s general counsel, to pen a lengthy letter earlier this month, detailing that Underdog’s pick’em games “comply with the letter and spirit of state and federal law everywhere that we offer them.”

Green was also – perhaps accidentally – potentially prophetic when it comes to DraftKings Cashpicks.

“I’ll confess to not knowing why DraftKings and FanDuel do not have fantasy contests that are similar to Pick’em fantasy; I do not have any public or non-public information on that issue,” Green wrote. “Even though they have said publicly that they do not believe the contests fit within the definitions of state law, there is nothing legally binding them from reconsidering their conclusion now.”

Cover Image Credit: Getty Images

About the Author

jedelstein
Jeff Edelstein (jedelstein)

Jeff is a veteran journalist, now working with SportsHandle.com, USBets.com, and RotoGrinders.com as a senior analyst. He’s also an avid sports bettor and DFS player, and cannot, for the life of him, get off the chalk. He can be reached at jedelstein@bettercollective.com.