By Greg Mandozzi ’18
Sports are always a hot topic, and often what is being discussed at bars, family tables, and increasingly online all across this great nation. Much of the interaction we have with sports is through the use of websites and programs online, especially as we continue to see technology evolve. Fantasy Football, along with other fantasy sports have become a newfound culture, as people draft and construct their ideal team, take on buddies, co-workers, or to seek become ruler of the house. This also gives people something to root for, in the cases that they aren’t affiliated with a team, or if their team simply isn’t that good. Luckily we don’t face either of these dilemmas. However it seems fitting that Boston would be the city that the now controversial sites, Draftkings and Fanduel, were created. Welcome to the new era of online sports interaction, but are these sites illegal? Are these sites just the direction technology is inevitably taking us?
Recently, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman declared these juggernaut sports sites illegal gambling, and ordered them to stop accepting money from New York residents. Draftkings and Fanduel are fighting back, as they have issued lawsuits against New York, stating that this ban should be lifted, as they feel it is an unfair overreach and could be detrimental to their business. Other states have started to question the legality of the sites, requesting they get gambling licenses in order to continue providing the current service and business, they wish to build upon moving forward.
The sites argue that nothing has changed about the situation other than the Attorney General’s mind, as the sites have been fully functional for years already. They are the commercials that you cannot avoid, and the very frequent sponsor of so many entities in the sports business. So they question the sudden call for their websites demise, and believe the service provided is completely within the bounds of legality. They say that daily fantasy is a game of skill rather than chance, therefore and cannot be considered gambling. A recent study states that 91% of profits were won by the top 1.3% of players, while a staggering 85% of players were losers. This statistic gives these sites traction in their argument that skill is necessary to win big. However taking away the chance aspect, and no longer giving the average confidence that members can sign up and win big, the sites become less appealing to the casual users.
The New York Attorney General, as well as many discouraged users of the site, are arguing that the site is dancing around the law as they dupe sports fans nationwide in their quest to build a multi-billion dollar empire. Of course as with any accusation, this must go through the legal process, and the courts must come to a verdict.
With sponsorships and partnerships with the vast majority of pro sports leagues, daily fantasy has been a marketing master as they seem to be linked to just about every major outlet. A study shows that Draftkings and Fanduel show advertisements every 90 seconds.
What we have to question, as consumers and sports fans, is whether this is something that is taking advantage of us, or is it simply a brilliant idea that is taking advantage of the technological advances our societies experience, and will continue to experience as the future becomes the past. I don’t see a lot of validity to any argument that this isn’t online gambling, because the use of money and investment in a sports team or player, is by definition gambling, and that is something you do at your own risk. The question is, should we allow online gambling be once again allowed? Should the industry be resurrected and should sites like these ones in question be able to reap the benefits of a very profitable business? I guess this national debate proves we as a society have to decide whether we want to evolve with the technology, or stick to our guns. This is something that will likely take time to resolve, maybe years, but a dialogue has opened up about which direction we should go, and Draftkings and Fanduel finds themselves right in the middle of it.