Attorney General Sues Gridiron Fantasy Sports; Company Operated in Chesterfield
|Dustin Ashby ran fantasy leagues while working as UMSL's golf coach.|
Koster said Ashby's Georgia-based company ran the World Championship of Fantasy Football and the World Championship of Fantasy Baseball both in Missouri and throughout the country, operating from an office in Chesterfield. Participants in the fantasy leagues paid entrance fees for a chance to win cash prizes.
The attorney general alleges in a press release today that prior to the start of the 2010 fantasy football season, Gridiron promised to pay cash awards to up to 331 participants, totaling a minimum of $389,500, based on the performance of the individual fantasy teams. For instance, the person whose team scored the most fantasy points in each league during the regular season was guaranteed a cash prize of $5,000, and there were up to 100 leagues, based on the number of participants.
At the end of the 2010 season, the defendants notified the winners, told them the amount they had won, and promised to pay by February 15, 2011. The defendants even went on ESPN during Super Bowl XLV and presented the grand prize winner with an oversized check for $300,000, which was not fully honored.
While the investigation is ongoing, Koster has discovered that the defendants have failed to pay out at least $151,261 of the promised prize money. Koster's suit alleges that the defendants were using the fantasy baseball entrance fees to pay the fantasy football winners and the football entrance fees to pay the baseball winners. As a result, they could not guarantee prize-winning amounts, as they had done, since the payouts would be dependent on the number of participants. The suit also alleges the defendants used some of the entrance fee money for other non-contest purposes, including paying off loans.
Koster is asking the court to issue preliminary and permanent injunctions prohibiting further violations of the law; to require the defendants to provide full restitution to victims and pay all court and investigative costs; and to require the defendant to pay the state a civil penalty and an amount equal to 10 percent of total restitution ordered.
In September the NCAA placed UMSL's athletic department on probation when it discovered that Ashby had hired an assistant coach and several students to work for the his fantasy sports leagues. The NCAA considers paid fantasy sports leagues, like Ashby's, a form of gambling.