Sunday, December 7, 2014

There is no fantasy about this football. It sounds like straight gambling to me. Each year millions of people draft their own teams and play a thing called Fantasy Football by telling their players touchdowns and  yards  to determine a league’s winners but recently new fanatics have found a way to assemble teams and total up the results all on the same day and do so again , and again, day after day. It is called Daily Fantasy and what these guys are doing now is nothing more than straight up gambling. If  they start regulating it, people will go to jail.

On a Saturday night in Vegas the stakes are high. A million bucks could be riding on the outcome of one night of baseball games. The Fantasy sports players have turned little bar bets into serious business. One of them is Corey Albertson who calls himself a Professional Fantasy Sports player. Since when do we have a title like that? This guy made over $200,000 playing Fantasy sports last year. This year he expects to double those earnings. He doesn’t play the chalkboard version in your neighborhood bar with teams drafted in the start of the year with $100 bucks on the line at the end of the season. No , he plays daily fantasy sports.

This guy drafts new teams every day. He has tens of thousands of dollars on the line every night.  In drafting his fantasy teams he spends hours each day studying his homemade algorithms that track thousands of up to the minute statistics and player projections. He has no remorse about having more information than other betters. There is not just players now that have an advantage, the sites that administer the games online collect a 10% of each dollar wager. One of the leading sites is called FanDuel based in New York City. This site was founded in 2009 as a 4 person start up. Now they took in $14 Million dollars in revenue last year alone.   They expect to take in over $40 Million dollars this year. Next year they expect to hand out a Billion dollars in prize money. So far, it is all legal money.

Another site, Boston based DraftKings, advertise getting rich quick by betting on sports. This is all in a country where sports gambling is illegal almost everywhere. Fantasy Sports are legal because of a loophole in the law which considers them not a game of chance like gambling but rather games of skill.   Really? Since when is sitting on your ass picking a winner a skill? That loophole is why these two sites are worth hundreds of millions of dollars.  The founders of the sites say they can prove that what they do is skill predominant.

Let’s discuss it . Gambling is assessing a set of probabilities, then putting money at risk, then waiting for the outcome of an event that you do not control. It sounds exactly like Fantasy Football to me. They insist that what they do is different. They claim to be able to show that the high skilled player will win  predominantly, he will beat another player almost 90% of the time.  That is the difference. Their bets are based on knowledge and statistics. They want to be considered more like stock traders rather than gamblers.

I say when you add the big money element, you have gotten into gambling. University of Illinois Law Professor John Kent is one of the nation’s experts on internet gambling, he says the loophole was left there in the law for the neighborhood guys to have some fun in the bar with small bets. No one expected with the invention of the internet it would grow into a Billion dollar event after every game each night. Now we are in the middle of an explosion of sports betting  where kids with a cell phone and a credit card can log into one of these sites and be involved in this where no one knows or cares how old the kid is. This is wrong.

Now the major teams are following the money and getting involved with advertising of Fantasy betting. We need to control gambling in this country. Congress is doing nothing.

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