There is once again a lot of buzz among gambling experts pertaining to a new daily fantasy sports game that allows users to hone in a single NFL playoff game. The question here is; is the contest drawing the fantasy sports industry closer to sports betting which is still illegal in most of the United States?
Leading fantasy sports provider, DraftKings is offering the “Showdown” variant that allows users to pick six athletes from two teams playing against each other in a real-life football game. They get to rack up fantasy points based on certain statistics such as receptions, touchdowns and yards passing, rushing or receiving.
However, the 2006 federal law that effectively outlawed online gambling but gave rise to daily fantasy sports requires that daily fantasy sports contents are based off the performances of athletes in “multiple real-world” sports events and not just single games. This particular detail has been the reason behind raised concerns regarding how regulators and fantasy sports companies such as DraftKings operate.
“This new game continues the industry trend of trying to get as close as possible to single-game betting,” said Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling.
He further mentioned that the games have in many ways blurred the largely fictional line between daily fantasy sports and sports betting. DraftKings, on the other hand, argue that the Unlawful Gambling Enforcement Act only applies in cases where there is an underlying violation of state gambling statutes first – so far, there has not been any objection to the competition by any of the states.
“This act is basically irrelevant. Everything defaults to state law now,” said Anthony Cabot, DraftKings outside legal counsel, referring to the federal law that the industry has long cited for justifying its existence. “If it’s not in violation of state law, then there’s no violation of the federal act. It’s a big red herring.”
Meanwhile, the United States Supreme Court is still weighing New Jersey’s bid to overturn the sports betting ban that has been in effect in all but four states. If the ruling is favorable, the numerous debates that are popping up in regards to daily fantasy sports will be definitely be muted.