Decision made: Daily fantasy sports made illegal in New York

Michael Morgan

Six weeks ago the installment of Sidelines discussed the recent strides fantasy sports have made in light of technological and statistical advances in sports. One of the ways mentioned for getting that risk-reward fix that sports fans love is through daily fantasy sports, most notably on the websites DraftKings.com and FanDuel.com.

You know, the sites with the commercials depicting the generic jersey wearing football fans brandishing massive checks at a sports bar. Or the ones with the “average Joes” bragging about the thousands of dollars they’ve won by betting that Tom Brady wouldn’t choke that week.

I equate those to the commercials for 877-CASH-NOW. Annoying, repetitive and provocative, but still a scam that I’ll probably never participate in.

I’d like to see the other side of it. Show me some FanDuel confessionals of people who have been sucked into the scam and had to pawn off their drum sets to make up for their thousand dollar losses.

Well, rejoice New Yorkers, because at least for the time being, you will not have to suffer through those DraftKings and FanDuel commercials every time you sit down to watch your mediocre football teams.

This week the Attorney General of New York determined that these daily fantasy sports sites are games of chance and not skill, constituting an illegal form of gambling in New York. It was ordered that these sites must cease accepting business from players in the state.

New York joins Arizona, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada and Washington as the only states to outlaw these sites.

In my book, these games are clearly games of chance. Whether or not that should make them illegal is another story, but that’s what the law says.

Some will say these are games of skill, but that’s just a misnomer.

“If you don’t know football, you’re gonna have trouble winning money,” some will say.

As was discussed in the previous Sidelines on fantasy sports, people have made careers out of making projections for these games. These projections are taken into account on daily fantasy sports.

The players projected to perform better are worth more of your daily “budget” on these sites. This is essentially just setting the spread higher and making you take a guess vis-à-vis those odds.

I know we all like to pretend we’re ESPN’s Matthew Berry when it comes to fantasy sports, but at the end of the day, we’re not skillfully selecting our lineups at all. I don’t think a single fantasy sports player has ever made his or her lineup without consulting the projections for the week.

But unlike season-long fantasy, daily fantasy games change the cost for players each day with respect to their daily projections.

You could argue that season long fantasy requires skill because (in most leagues) all players are worth an equal amount upon choosing.

Have you ever been in a March Madness pool with people who know nothing about basketball and make their picks arbitrarily? It seems that these are the people that always win the pools— that is, they’re the ones who go off of pure chance.

Undoubtedly, some DraftKings and Fanduel players are winning their money through chance. Each day is another guess.

So as long as the law calls games of chance illegal, that’s what they should be regarded as.

So if you live in one of the 43 states not listed earlier, go get your daily fantasy fix while you still can.

 

And just hang in there, those deplorable commercials might soon be a thing of the past.