Recently, New York and Illinois have passed bills that have banned fantasy sports in their states which has led into the hottest topic in sports today: Are all fantasy sports gambling?
Every football season, I am always elated for the fantasy football season to commence. My friends and I partake in mock drafts and predict the biggest sleepers, busts, and best newcomers. Until this past year, I have been unaware about the debate of fantasy football being a form of internet gambling. To me, fantasy football is a game that I play in order to further enjoy the football season and to attempt to win a little money. This year, each player in my league paid $15, which makes the pot $180. I was incredibly confident this season, as I drafted a team stacked with superstars. My friend, however, took an extremely odd approach and drafted a team full of average players. Fantasy football is a game of luck because in the end of the season, my injury-riddled team, lost in the semi-finals. Whereas, the team full of average players made it into the championship. This happens in many other fantasy leagues, because it is a game luck or gambling.
The National Football League is one of the most unpredictable and entertaining leagues in America. Within the first week of football in 2015, I was astonished at how many “Breaking News” updates I saw on social media and TV about injured superstars. When I was drafting my team three to four weeks prior to the beginning of the season, I had no idea my best running back would only played half of a game the entire season. Yes, I know specific players who are injury-prone, but there is no guarantee they get hurt because we cannot predict injuries. According to ThinkProgress, 15 percent of NFL players were injured in the first week of the season! Another 16 players were injured the following week. None of us, even the so-called experts on ESPN, can tell us who is going to get injured week-by-week. Although I believe that fantasy sports are gambling, I don’t believe that all fantasy sports should be illegal. I believe that private leagues should be legal because those are strictly for fun and have no intent of gambling. Public leagues, like Fanduel and Draftkings, are complete gambling with the main goal of winning millions of dollars. According to Forbes, fantasy sports will be a $1.7 billion dollar industry by 2017. That money is made off of gambling.
The Unlawful Internet Gambling and Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA) created the guidelines for internet gambling. The UIGEA states,”has an outcome that reflects the relative knowledge of the participants, or their skill at physical reaction or physical manipulation (but not chance), and, in the case of a fantasy or simulation sports game, has an outcome that is determined predominantly by accumulated statistical results of sporting events.” This says that fantasy sports are a game of chance if you can win them by using superior knowledge. There is no such thing as superior knowledge. If a fantasy expert and I create Fanduel teams, 3 of his statistically good players may leave the game due to injury, and vice versa. The expert may know 10 times the amount of information, statistics, or strategies that I know, yet there is a chance his team loses to mine. Fantasy sports may also have a higher entry fee than most bets in Vegas. If you are generating higher revenues than places in Vegas, it is gambling.
In recent times, the state of New York has passed laws making fantasy sports illegal due to gambling. The attorney general of New York, Eric Schneiderman, found that "each DraftKings/FanDuel wager represents a wager on a 'contest of chance' where winning or losing depends on numerous elements of chance to a 'material degree.”’ Many states have also agreed with New York and made fantasy sports illegal (ESPN). Draftkings was swift to rebuttal when they said, "We strongly disagree with the reasoning in his opinion and will examine and vigorously pursue all legal options available to ensure our over half a million customers in New York State can continue to play the fantasy sports games they love.” I understand Draftkings approach because I do love the game, but I also know that fantasy sports are a form of gambling.
I do not believe that fantasy sports should be 100% abolished because it is unnecessary to take away an up-and-coming American tradition. I do, however, believe that Draftkings and Fanduel be shut down as they are prime examples of gambling. The fantasy league with a group of your buddies is an awesome way to enjoy the football season, but football is no place for gambling on players. This argument will continue for some time, but when it comes down to the facts, everyone has the same chance of winning the jackpot on Draftkings or Fanduel with a different lineup.
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