Skill or Chance? Fantasy Gambling is Under Fire

Football Field. Photo Courtesy / Flickr
Football Field. Photo Courtesy / Flickr

Football Field. Photo Courtesy / Flickr

By Kayla Sutter

Staff Writer

Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) companies have had loads of increased popularity and support over the last year.

In recent weeks, these DFS sites have been under fire. Federal and State lawmakers have been investigating DFS sites for them potentially being illegal.

Lawmakers are explaining that DFS sites are potentially games of ‘chance’ and not necessarily ‘skill,’ which would make gambling money and placing bets online illegal.

Currently, six U.S. states are not allowing their residents to participate in DFS.

The DFS sites have blocked residents of Nevada, Arizona, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana and Washington from participating, due to State laws and regulations.

Sites such as Draft Kings and Fan Duel have made themselves known. Any sports fan that watches their team play on TV has noticed the increase of support for these websites, through commercials and sponsorships.

Sponsorships have even come from teams directly. Legal Sports Report (legalsportsreport.com) has tracked the sponsorships and partnerships that teams have agreed on, and with which DFS sties.

According to Legal Sports Report, fantasy football is the most popular sport out of all the fantasy sports. Twenty-eight teams have signed limited “one-year deals” with these sites altogether, listed as following.

Twelve with Draft Kings: Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots, New York Giants, Oakland Raiders, Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans.

Sixteen with Fan Duel: Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills, Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles, San Diego Chargers, St. Louis Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Washington Redskins.

Networks and Arenas have also signed partnerships, for example, ESPN with Draft Kings, SB Nation with Fan Duel and Madison Square Garden with Draft Kings.

The Major League Baseball (MLB) have also signed agreements, that allowed Draft Kings to become the “Official Daily Fantasy League Game” of the MLB this past season, with each MLB team being sponsored by Draft Kings.

With legal binding contracts and agreements of advertising support, why in the world would these major entities sign with Draft Kings and Fan Duel if DFS’s were so blatantly illegal?

Draft Kings’ website clearly states, “The legality of daily fantasy sports is the same as that of a season long fantasy sports. Federal Law and 45 of the 50 US states allow skill-based gaming. Daily fantasy sports is a skill game and is not considered gambling.”

The technical terms and laws are very confusing to understand.

Federal law has the support of the “Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006,” however it is specified that fantasy sports are exempt from unlawful gambling.

The exception defined as: “(ix) participation in any fantasy or simulation sports game or educational game or contest in which (if the game or contest involves a team or teams) no fantasy or simulation sports team is based on the current membership of an actual team that is a member of an amateur or professional sports organization.” (text version of this Act found on corpuslegalis.com.)

The big dispute seems to fall on one opinion. Is winning on DFS’s sites based on skill, or good ole’ chance thanks to lady luck?

I think that the answer is simple. It is completely skill. Personally, I am not a huge football fan.

I understand the game, but I do not know statistics of players and teams. I am a huge baseball fan, and do understand statistics of players and teams.

If I were to go onto Draft Kings, I would pick fantasy baseball over football.

Why? I understand it better. I have the skill of knowing statistics, which would allow me to strategically pick my draft, heightening my ability to win. There is no chance there.

Betting on a horse race is considered a legal way to gamble, which is based purely on chance. Yes, it can be argued that one could study a horse and how they perform, but it is highly unlikely.

Individuals go to a horse race, knowing that they will be betting on chance. There is no strategy to walking up to a betting booth, placing a twenty-dollar bet on the horse with a cool name and then hoping for the best.

DFS players are not hoping for luck. They are knowledgeable sports enthusiasts who know the difference between players and their athletic abilities. They develop knowledge that makes them skilled individuals.

Some may argue that states are pushing to ban DFS sites because they are interfering with casino revenue.

I wouldn’t immediately agree to that myself, but Pennsylvania lawmakers are starting investigations of DFS sites and were recorded saying, “A key legislator on gaming issues (Pa.) says he’s not looking to ban fantasy sports betting sites in Pennsylvania, but he wants to make sure that players are protected… Fantasy sports betting sites could be required to get a license, or be required to run through an existing casino,” Philadelphia’s CBS Local website stated.

The debate of DFS sites is not one that will end soon, and lawmakers will use their power to decide on whether a DFS is based off of chance or skill.

Email Kayla at: ksutter2@live.esu.edu

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