The High Stakes of Online Fantasy Sports Gambling

Gambling is taking on a new flavor – daily fantasy sports (DFS) betting. It’s the latest trend sweeping the nation, and there is really big money on the line. According to some analysts, entry fees in daily fantasy sports will total $18 billion by 2020. Proponents of legalizing DFS gambling are trying to skirt the law altogether by seeking to define it in state statutes as a game of skill rather than a game of chance.

One such proposal (AB 800) is being floated here in Wisconsin to protect daily fantasy sports by doing just that – classifying it as a game of skill. This would allow online betting for DFS without changing the gambling laws. DFS meets all of the requirements of the fundamental definition of commercial gambling. It has consideration (the player wagers money), prize (the player wins cash prizes), and chance (there must be at least enough variance that an unskilled or lesser skilled bettor can win the prize, at least in the short run.) Read more here.

This proposal is a backdoor attempt to open a casino and lottery retailer in every bedroom, living room and smart phone in WI. The DFS games themselves are dishonest and predatory. Legalizing them doesn’t change that reality. It’s a public rip-off.

DFS is the latest trend sweeping the nation, and there is really big money on the line. According to some analysts, entry fees in daily fantasy sports will total $18 billion by 2020. At least one out of every twenty citizens have had their lives turned upside down because of commercial gambling, most of which was sponsored and/or sanctioned by government. Public officials have taken virtually no action to address this public health crisis because these addicted gamblers are the prime source of profits for state-run gambling. Over the last decade there are 11 different independent studies that show 40%-60% of electronic gambling machine profits come from citizens who have become addicted to using the machines.

Fantasy Sports Leagues started as a season long hobby where the trophy and its owner’s bragging rights were much more important than winning a cash prize. DFS games have a fundamentally different relationship to chance than season-long fantasy games. On a given day an injury, a snowstorm, or a ball bouncing strangely could affect a result. In this regard, placing a wager with a DFS operator is very similar to placing a bet with a bookmaker.

Even many of America’s casino operators and gambling regulators publicly call DFS “gambling.” MGM Casinos Chairman Jim Murren recently said those who argue that daily fantasy games are not gambling are “absolutely, utterly wrong.” Murren added, “I don’t know how to run a football team, but I do know how to run a casino, and this is gambling.” The CEO of major sports book operator William Hill U.S., Joe Asher, echoed Murren’s declaration. “You put up of something of value, cash, to win something of value, cash. It’s the classic definition of gambling…any suggestion that (fantasy sports) is not gambling is the biggest bunch of baloney I’ve ever seen.” Even the people who run these online DFS sites publicly admit they are running a gambling operation like “a casino.” DraftKings CEO Jason Robins acknowledged his website was “almost identical to a casino” in an online discussion on Reddit three years ago.

With online gambling, all you really need is a credit card and a computer, and you’re one click away from losing your house.