As previously thought, the NHL’s Minnesota Wild are formally seeking sanctions against fantasy sports operator Draft Ops, owned by Emil Interactive Games LLC. On July 6, 2016, the Wild asked a Minnesota federal court to sanction Emil Interactive for attempting to escape the $1.1 million they owe as part of a sponsorship deal with the Wild and their Arena, the Xcel Energy Center.
Initially, the Wild sued Emil Interactive for breach of contract after the parties agreed the daily fantasy sports company would be a sponsor of the Club and its Arena. However, shortly after the agreement, a bill to regulate daily fantasy sports failed to pass making it illegal in Minnesota and subject to federal law. As a result, in June of 2016 Emil Interactive sought dismissal of the Wild’s breach of contract suit arguing the agreement is void because operating in Minnesota leaves Emil Interactive open to violations of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act and the Illegal Gambling Business Act. In addition, Emil Interactive points to a clause in the contract which allows for termination if either the NHL or the state of Minnesota ever determine daily fantasy sports is illegal, a provision the Wild contend Emil never properly exercised.
In their Memorandum in Support of their Motion for Sanctions, the Wild assert that Emil Interactive’s motions were advanced in bad faith and ultimately frivolous. The Wild allege that Emil Interactive’s assertion that the Wild are implicitly participating in illegal gambling is a smokescreen for the fact that they lack the funds or desire to make the $1.1 million payment. Further, they assert that the motion to dismiss is meritless and contrary to the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 which says daily fantasy sports are legal and the Minnesota Legislature merely failed to regulate not formally deem illegal. In fact, the Wild have pointed to Emil’s own website which asserts daily fantasy sports are legal and should be legal.
In summation, the Wild believe that Emil Interactive is misrepresenting state and federal law and making inaccurate allegations to skate their $1.1 million contractual obligation.