High Stakes Fantasy Sports: The Debate on FanDuel and DraftKings

BY NATASHA GEIGER

As we get deeper into the NFL season, one thing that is certain is that FanDuel and DraftKings have spent a load of money on advertisements during football games, both on television and online media. However, both companies have gotten their money’s worth. As of Week 5 of the NFL season, DraftKings had made $25,046,113.25 in total fees and $4.14 million in total entries. FanDuel brought in $20,576,801 in total fees with $3.38 million in total entries. The advertisements have been worth it as each week of football continues.

FanDuel and DraftKings are really quite similar. Each includes a very amped-up version of ESPN’s fantasy football. This is fantasy football on steroids. This is fantasy football with money involved.

While it may sound like DraftKings and FanDuel are simple and straightforward, that is far from the case. It isn’t just a click and win kind of deal; rather, a person must learn new things and do some research before they think about starting an account at either fantasy website.

There are some differences between the two sites. Draft Kings offers late swaps for team members while on FanDuel your team is locked. On FanDuel you can also scout your opponents and see how they are doing. But let’s be real: this is not ordinary fantasy football that you play with your buddies. This deals with your own cold hard cash.

But there is a problem when we add everything up: putting money on players is, in fact, betting, and betting is essentially gambling.

Fantasy sports and gambling have a long and complicated relationship. In 2006 the SAFE Port Act was passed. It took steps to prevent threats reaching the US and to harden security at the US ports. Congress snuck in a ban on online gambling in the law, but this act exempted fantasy sports from online gambling. At the end of the day, FanDuel and DraftKings have every right to operate in the United States according to the law.

There is also the Fantasy Trade Sports Association, created in 1999, that now has over 300 companies accredited by the FTSA. , argues thatfantasy sports are pure games of chance, and rather illegal games of chance if not under proper regulation. A game of chance is a game in which a player does not know what the outcome will be day after day. Like FanDuel and DraftKings, the people playing high-stakes fantasy sports do not know what will happen day in and day out.

For the past year, Nevada’s Gaming Control Board has been doing research on FanDuel and DraftKings as to whether they involve gambling and if they need a license to do so in the state. Although Draft Kings and FanDuel have insisted that their sites are not gambling and are legal under the 2006 SAFE Port Act, Nevada is not letting up.

Upon the investigation of these two sites, as of Oct.15, 2015, Nev. has banned FanDuel and DraftKings from operating in the state. Now along with Nev., FanDuel and DraftKings are banned in Iowa, Wis., Ariz., La. and Mont. Legal inquiries have been opened by multiple federal law offices, and the FBI has also opened up a preliminary inquiry on the two companies.

The NFL front office and NFL owners have been awfully quiet about the recent uproar against Fan Duel and DraftKings. This may be because the owners all have a stake in the fantasy league. Since fantasy leagues have become such a revenue-generator, it is hard to walk away from that kind of money and profit.

As the advertisements started appearing more often on television throughout the weeks, I still wasn’t really drawn to the whole idea of putting my hard-earned money into chance. But I have been intrigued by just how much people have embraced it, including ESPN and the numerous daily fantasy shows that have popped up in the past couple months.

I find the use of FanDuel and DraftKings to be a form of illegal gambling. While gambling may be known as a victimless crime, this type of gambling can be harmful to the individual betting on professional players, as well as harmful to the people around them.

I am a firm believer that fantasy sports are a sort of art, something one learns and has a passion for. However, putting money on chance and a 17-week football season should not be considered legal in any way, shape or form.

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