Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Congress Should Hold Hearings on Fantasy Football

A new form of gambling has suddenly appeared in America, and the outfits raking in the money claim that what they’re doing is perfectly legal. In the last four years, two recently formed companies, DraftKings and FanDuel, have collected billions from the mostly young men who place bets on what is called fantasy football. Many people first heard about this when a DraftKings employee won $350,000 for coming in second place in a FanDuel contest that cost $25 to enter and featured $5 million in cash winnings, including $1 million to the winner. The New York Attorney General is investigating whether the employee benefited from inside information, but the bigger question is the eye-popping jackpot.

It’s illegal in most places to bet on actual NFL games, but fantasy football enables participants to do something similar by betting on fantasy teams that win or lose based on how real NFL players perform each week in real NFL games. Participants then boost the audience for sports channels by wasting hours watching out-of-town teams that affect the outcome of their statistics on fantasy football leagues. The National Football League has long sought to protect football’s reputation as America’s most popular sport by prohibiting legal bets on real football games, but the opportunity of drawing a new audience of obsessive football fans to cable TV was irresistible for the NFL.

Gambling in America has always been strictly limited to state-sponsored lotteries, state-regulated casinos, and horse racing. Federal laws prohibit any form of interstate gambling where bets are placed by telephone or through the mail, so how is it that this new fantasy sport can fly under the radar of federal gaming laws? Tune in tomorrow to find out.

Listen to the radio commentary here:

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