Let me set the stage here for a moment. Last week, I saw reports that the Attorney General of Massachusetts, Maura Healey, is looking into the legality under Massachusetts law of daily fantasy sports sites such as DraftKings and Fan Duel. It is important for me to state why I am interested in this review/investigation/whatever:
1. I do not play daily fantasy sports or any other kind of fantasy sports. That is not because I am opposed to them; I simply do not find them interesting or engaging.
2. I am most assuredly not opposed to gambling and I am totally convinced that playing any fantasy sport system is a form of gambling as long as money changes hands.
3. I believe that daily fantasy sports should be treated under the law exactly the same way poker and/or wagering on the outcome of individual sports games are treated under the law.
4. I have indeed grown immensely tired of the non-stop ads touting both DraftKings and Fan Duel to the point that I want the ad agencies that produce them to burn to the ground.
Attorney General Healey is an elected official in Massachusetts and she campaigned in part on holding the gambling industry accountable and on assuring that any expansion of gambling in Massachusetts would comply with state law. Even if I ascribe the normal “bulls[p]it factor” to that kind of campaign rhetoric, it is difficult to find fault with the idea of making an industry comply with existing law.
It turns out that DraftKings is a Massachusetts company and that opens the door for Attorney General Healey and her minions to do their review/investigation. Some of the things that might be ripe for review are:
Does the website block minors from participation?
Does the website block players from other states where their participation would be illegal? [Aside: About a year ago, I was told by a friend who is an attorney that all fantasy sports are considered illegal in Arizona, Louisiana and Washington. I have not verified that statement because I do not know how to do so.]
Do the daily/weekly fantasy leagues there represent a form of activity that is legal gambling or illegal gambling under Massachusetts law?
I am not an attorney – let alone an Attorney General – so there are likely a dozen other areas that could be reviewed/investigated here. I find the third one on the list to be the interesting one. As I understand it, the legal standard for “gambling” is threefold:
1. Something of value must be at risk i.e. the player must put up an entry fee or a stake to play the game.
2. The winner(s) must receive something of value at the end of the game i.e. a prize.
3. The act of winning must involve chance/luck and not skill.
Under Federal Law – passed in 2006 – fantasy sports conducted over the Internet are deemed to be legal while things like poker or wagering on individual sporting events are deemed to be illegal. It seems to me that fantasy sports ought to be treated in exactly the same way that poker and wagering on individual games are treated. I believe it takes skill to win at fantasy sports just as it takes skill to win at poker or to “come out ahead” when picking winners in individual sporting events. Compare those activities with something like the Powerball lottery which involves no skill and only chance/luck.
[Aside: Here is a test of my assertion of fantasy sports involving skill and not chance. Collect from the websites the names of the winners. If certain people win “every week” while others “never win” that might indicate something more than a chance occurrence is involved in the winning.]
Obviously, I am not going to presume to predict the outcome of Attorney General Healey’s actions. In fact, I am not even going to try to presume what vector heading the investigation/review might take. I do applaud her action here and hope that it provides some clarity around the question of fantasy sports as a form of gambling.
Above, I suggested that the ad agencies that put all those commercials on TV about Daily Fantasy Leagues should burn to the ground. I am not inciting to violence here; I am simply expressing a personal opinion just as I also hope that each and every person who has ever been involved with producing such an ad would suffer at least two of the ten Biblical plagues that visited the Pharaoh in Egypt. Just to show that I am a sporting person, I would allow those two plagues for each person to be selected at random by said person…
Switching gears, Tiger Woods announced last week that he had undergone a surgical procedure on his back and that he would not be playing in any more tournaments in 2015. His intent is to return to the PGA Tour in 2016. He and the physicians involved pronounced the surgery as successful. When I read those reports, I started to think about this:
When was the last time a professional athlete underwent surgery that the doctors pronounced as unsuccessful?
It took me a moment, but I do recall back in the 1960s that the KC Chiefs had a running back named Mack Lee Hill who was injured in a game and required knee surgery. He died on the operating table – I do not recall what went wrong – but he never came out of knee surgery. Obviously, I would categorize that as an “unsuccessful surgery”; however, I cannot think of any others.
Finally, speaking of knee injuries, here is an item from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times:
“NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin tore an anterior cruciate ligament while playing basketball.
“Doctors advised him to stick to safer pursuits — such as driving a stock car 220 miles an hour.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………