FanDuel and DraftKings: “These are not gambling sites”

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When Money goes Unchecked

Adam Cichoski | Sports writer | @AdamCichoski


Anyone who has watched any amount of ESPN in the last few months has heard of the websites DraftKings and FanDuel. This is mostly because you can’t seem to get through a commercial break of SportsCenter without seeing a few ads from these sites. The brand new, one-day fantasy sites have become a huge market. Each day, people can pick his or her favorite sport and pick a new fantasy roster. The winner will take home money. It’s a new concept and it’s become wildly popular, even to the point where SportsCenter now has a segment dedicated to daily fantasy sports.

In the middle of all of this, a scandal has arisen. An employee of DraftKings received inside information that only a select few have privilege to. With this information he went to FanDuel, their competitive site, and won $350,000. DraftKings claims that the information he had didn’t give him an advantage, then later claimed he set his lineup before he set his roster; right, sure he did. If it’s true that this information never helped him, then how come the rest of us don’t have this knowledge? It all seems really shady and it’s really not fair. That’s a lot of money that other people could have won perhaps if they had that advantage.

How can he get away with this? If a sportsbook in Las Vegas uses inside information he has to bet and win money, there would be some serious consequences. However, this man hasn’t technically committed any crime. How is that possible? These commercials are so common that most of us by instinct ignore them, so we don’t notice the fine print at the end of the commercial that reads, “This is not a gambling site.”

I’m sorry, then what exactly is it? They claim that since you’re not betting on a single player or team, rather a collection of players on different teams, it’s not a gambling site. I’m really not sure how they managed to swing that because it’s as much gambling as anything other type I’ve ever seen. The reason why they pushed so hard to be officially off the books as a gambling site is so that the government doesn’t regulate them.

Since they’re self-regulated, they have problems like employees taking advantage of insider information without it being considered a crime. If it were a stockbroker playing the market with insider information, he would most likely be in prison by now. Sure, now $350,000 later, the websites have decided to come up with a rule where they can’t bet on each other’s websites. How many things like this are we going to need to see before people see it as a problem and we’re able to get more regulation involved?

This is inexcusable. This is what happens when money goes unchecked. An FBI Investigation of one-day fantasy leagues has been opened, so only time will tell what the repercussions of this incident will be. I play fantasy sports and it appalls me that someone got away with this. However, at least something is happening now to bring forth change for the sake of fairness in these fantasy communities.