Daily Fantasy Sports

I’m not a lawyer, and pieces of the law sometimes confuse me. Regarding daily fantasy sports, I think that pieces of the law are contradictory. Moreover, while all gambling involves wagering, I do not think that all wagering is gambling. Let me explain.

The government spends a lot of money nixing acquisitions that yield monopolistic pricing power, but allows sports leagues like the NFL to be “legal” monopolies. Gambling is illegal in many areas, unless they’re looking to increase revenues, such as what Boston is trying to do. Meanwhile, people drive to casinos on Native American land and the Federal government looks the other way.

In the digital world, there’s currently an argument about online fantasy sports and that it is a “game of skill.” Yet, the government shut down online poker which is clearly a game of skill and not chance.

I’m curious to see what regulators decide to do about the daily sports fantasy companies currently in the news. I don’t play those games, but a friend of mine does. It clearly does appear to be a game of skill, but, he also admits that he’s pretty addicted to them.

IMO, fantasy sports is “a game of skill that involves wagering,” but that adults should be free to play them. I do not think that wagering automatically makes something “gambling.” I do think that games of chance that involve wagering is gambling.

Unfortunately, at casinos, you have both games of chance (e.g., slot machines) and games of skill (e.g., poker) under the same roof and all that is called “gambling.” This isn’t good for fantasy sports companies, if the public automatically views them as gambling.

I think the explosion of digital technology is mostly good for consumers. I really loved Aereo and the online viewing it provided, and I was bummed when the Supreme Court effectively shut it down. Yes, “software is eating the world,” but, in the end, regulators have the last say in many markets. Here’s hoping they let technology expand and prosper.

I suspect PR will be very key in the daily sports fantasy space because, unfortunately, perception will become reality as regulators react to optics. Some will assume that all wagering is gambling, I suspect.


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