Are Daily Fantasy Sports Gambling?
“Are Daily Fantasy Sports Gambling?” This is a question that is at the center of one of the largest debates regarding the legality of the hobby in the US, but it has also drawn the interest of people across the globe.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock you will probably have noticed advertisements for daily fantasy sports sites like DraftKings and Fanduel being flighted during sports events, or the branding somewhere on the internet. What these sites offer is the opportunity for players to participate and compete in daily or week long fantasy sports games. Players pay to participate in these events and win or lose money according to how members of their teams of real life athletes perform during an actual sports game or match.
Whether or not you look at fantasy sports as gambling will depend on your definition of gambling and even the dictionaries vary in that. Google the word “Gamble” and you’ll find it defined as “playing games of chance for money“. While the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as “to play a game in which you can win or lose money“.
As you can see from the above, those definitions are open to interpretation and as such have been causing huge contention between various groups and governments across the world.
In the US, unlike online casinos and sportsbooks which are illegal in most states, fantasy sports games have flown under the radar, mostly because they are technically considered “games of skill” as opposed to “games of chance” and have therefore not been classified as gambling.
This assumption is a little shaky given that casino games like blackjack are also games of skill, but nevertheless have been outlawed as “gambling” by the US government. In fact, the whole US based argument hinges on the language of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA) which specifically details games of chance as being illegal.
When this act was drafted, the majority of fantasy sports were friendly leagues and even if money changed hands, they were season-long, low stakes games between friends, not daily or weekly games orchestrated by huge companies that actively accept and pay out cash based on results. In essence, these platforms just provide players with another way to bet on sports as money is risked based on their predictions of a specific outcome.
Of course, daily fantasy sports sites and those who run them insist that they are legal due to the fact that they qualify as games of skill rather than games of chance wherein the player has no influence on the outcome no matter how skilled he/she may be and winning or losing is determined simply by luck.
If you are skilled enough to be able to predict an outcome correctly, then it’s not gambling – or this is the argument currently being debated. How you see it is open to interpretation.