The Fight Against Daily Fantasy Sports
Written By: Rob Schwarz, Jr. (@chiruxin on Fantasy Life App)
There is no secret that daily fantasy sports (DFS) has changed the dynamic of the fantasy world. Sites like FanDuel and DraftKings generate millions of dollars per year. Copycats of the two industry leaders were created by sites like Yahoo Daily and Draftpot. Even newer takes on DFS like the ‘No Halftime’ app who offer player vs. player matchups rather than entire rosters are now becoming vastly successful. All together, DFS companies now generate billions of dollars per year. Unfortunately for them, they became too big, and now people want a piece of their pie.
Let us take a quick look at how we got here. In 2006, “The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act” (UIGEA) paved the way for the creation and eventual explosion of daily fantasy sports. The legislation put an end to the online poker industry (or so they thought), but it carved out specific language that made fantasy sports legal.
The bill included specific wording that exempts fantasy sports games that have an outcome that reflects the knowledge and skill (not chance) of the participant or is determined by accumulated statistical results of sporting events. To put it simply, the Federal Government recognizes competing for money through fantasy sports, both daily and yearly, is legal. However, the states still have the ability to enforce more severe laws.
Current DFS Legality by State
There are currently seven states where DFS is now illegal. However, there are many more that are up in the air. Legal battles are happening in major states like California, New York, and Illinois. If those rulings do not go in favor for DFS, the outcomes could be disastrous for the rest of the country.
Now, before we lose our heads, let us call out these lawsuits for what they really are, shall we? These lawsuits are just a way for the states to regulate and earn money off of a multi-million dollar industry. The likelihood of a complete ban on DFS is highly unlikely. However, that does not mean we should sit back and take things lightly. Some lawmakers may stand their ground based on their principles. Others may require unrealistic registration fees. No matter the outcomes, DFS as we know it will not go unscathed.
What we need is a way for all of us to come together and fight back. We need to find a way to show our government that we want the ability to play daily fantasy sports. Remember, our politicians are supposed to work for us. [insert joke here] Do not fret though. There are ways to fight back.
- If you are an avid DFS player, FanDuel has started a grassroots petition. Please take the time to sign their petition.
- If you are living in a state where current or rumored litigation is taking place, contact your local representatives and express your concerns. You may follow the link here and enter in your zip code.
- In some states you may want to contact the attorney general who is involved by using this form. (Hell, just do all three!)
You might be thinking how am I supposed to make a difference? I am not a millionaire who can influence politicians like the special interest groups do on a regular basis. Just remember, we are not alone. We have two very wealthy companies in our corner. We have people like Mark Cuban in our corner. Also, we have an association that specifically stands up for fantasy sports in our corner. Huh? I know, I know. I was not familiar with them until recently either.
Established in 1999
The Fantasy Sports Trade Association (FSTA) is made up of members that includes ESPN, Yahoo! Sports, Fox Sports, Rotowire, FanDuel, DraftKings and many, many more! FSTA was founded in 1999. The association also launched a lobbying website in 2015 that allows fantasy sports players to voice their opinions, while FSTA advocates on their behalf. The website also makes finding fantasy relevant news and updates simple, and gives you ways to take action within your states.
The good news (yes, not all of the news regarding DFS is bad) is that there have been some recent rulings and legislation in favor of DFS. Within the last few weeks, two states have declared DFS as legal. Rhode Island’s attorney general, Peter Kilmartin stated, “Although we believe that DFS does implicate certain provisions of existing civil and criminal statutes, it is the opinion of this office that Daily Fantasy Sports may currently operate legally in the State of Rhode Island.” The only downfall here is that there is not a state law in place protecting future attacks on the industry.
The Rhode Island news, however, was followed up by the state of Virginia formally legalizing DFS by signing the Fantasy Contests Act into law. The bill outlines how DFS can be played legally within the state. This bill marks the first legislation formally declaring DFS legal. In order for a site to operate legally within Virginia, it must pay $50,000 in registration fees and comply with two independent audits every year. A small price for DFS sites to pay if you ask me.
Another piece of good news was hearing how confident Bruce from ‘No Halftime’ was about DFS staying in the United States. If you missed it, check out Episode 6 of the Clock Dodgers’ Podcast. Not only does he think DFS is here to stay, he believes that the landscape for DFS still has room to grow and change for the better!
College is expensive!
Now that you know what is going on and how to fight back, get out there and do your part. Do not pull your punches. Do not take a dive. Defeating “The Man” will take all of us. I am not sure about you, but I would like to keep the opportunity to earn (win) my children’s college education.