Oct 30 (Reuters) - Washington Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garçon on Friday filed a proposed class action lawsuit in U.S. federal court in Maryland on behalf of himself and other NFL players, asserting that daily fantasy sports company FanDuel Inc used their names and likenesses without consent.
The case comes as the unregulated fantasy sports industry, in which people pay to compete for daily cash prizes in simulated sports contests, faces legal scrutiny following reports that a DraftKings Inc employee won $350,000 in a FanDuel contest using what appeared to be insider information.
Garçon’s suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, Maryland, stated that FanDuel exploits the popularity of National Football League players to drive its business and features their names in its advertisements without paying them anything.
“This case is about FanDuel trying to profit on Plaintiff Garçon’s success, and that of other NFL athletes, without compensating them,” the suit stated.
FanDuel rejected the lawsuit’s claims, saying in a statement it is “without merit.”
“There is established law that fantasy operators may use player names and statistics for fantasy contests. FanDuel looks forward to continuing to operate our contests which sports fans everywhere have come to love,” the FanDuel statement said.
Garçon’s lawsuit said the proposed class would be made up of any NFL player whose likeness or name was used by FanDuel starting from January 2013. Garçon said he has suffered damages of at least $75,000 and the class more than $5 million.
DraftKings, which was not named as a defendant in the suit, has a licensing and marketing agreement with the NFL Player’s Association while FanDuel does not, USA Today reported. The newspaper said Garcon promoted FanDuel on his Twitter account last year.
FanDuel and DraftKings, two privately owned industry leaders, are both valued at more than $1 billion.
The Justice Department and the FBI are investigating the industry, according to media reports. New York’s attorney general has also opened a probe.
The Fantasy Sports Trade Association said on Tuesday it had created a control board to oversee the fast-growing, multibillion dollar industry and avoid outside regulation.
Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Will Dunham