The onset of the NFL preseason means two very important things: (1) the 2015 NFL season is nearly upon us; and (2) football fans around the country are preparing for the fantasy football draft in hopes that their gridiron god prospects don’t turn out to be false prophets. With daily fantasy football goliaths such as DraftKings guaranteeing a prize pool of $10 million for Week 1 of the regular season, the stakes are higher than ever. Since, in the last year, FanDuel or DraftKings have inked sponsorship deals with just about every sports team in the NFL , it begs the question: are fantasy sports the new and more tolerable face of online gambling?

Fantasy sports companies currently operate in forty-five states because they are generally considered “games of skill,” exempting them from the purview of gambling prohibitions. Moreover, fantasy sports advocates point to an expressed exemption for fantasy sports games in the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA) as evidence of the sports legality. While fantasy gaming companies have used this legislative exemption as a shield to prohibition, the fight to legalize fantasy gaming across the country is far from over.

In Florida, DraftKings and FanDuel have recently joined forces with the Fantasy Sports Trade Association (FSTA) to begin lobbying Florida legislatures to recognize fantasy sports as a “game of skill.” Furthermore, DraftKings and FanDuel are currently banned in five states: Arizona, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, and Washington. With several states considering amendments to their fantasy laws, we can only wonder what will come of this rapidly growing and increasingly popular market. In the meantime however, let’s a grab a beer, enjoy some preseason football, and hope that neither Andrew Luck nor Charles Johnson disappoint. Several state laws very well may be amended to find fantasy football unlawful but today, with over 50 million participants, if playing fantasy sports is unethical, unlawful, or just plain wrong, at least we’re in good company.

Alneada Biggers

One Response to Let’s Enjoy Fantasy Football…While We Can

  1. jblasco says:

    Prior to reading this article, I never really viewed fantasy football leagues as a form of online gambling. However, I can see how it can be argued that they are. It will be interesting to see how long they can hide behind the “games of skill” exemption. Is poker not a “game of skill”? Yet a social game of poker with your friends for money can sometimes be considered illegal. Fantasy football leagues are walking on a thin line right now but as Biggers stated, let’s continue to enjoy fantasy football while we still legally can.