17.9.15

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

There's sufficient play value in pretending to be general manager of a sports team that fantasy sports leagues have become big business.  Big enough that Congress, unable to pass appropriations for each Cabinet department or reconsider the positive train control deadline,  has to make a determination on whether fantasy sports are gambling.
Most people that I discuss the fantasy sports industry with believe that there is little-to-no difference between entry fee style fantasy game play and betting; however, they enjoy partaking in fantasy sports and do not want to see the pay-for-prize version disappear.
There is a federal gambling statute, with a badly worded (the logic of collective action) exemption for fantasy leagues, including the play-by-the-week version that's recently emerged.  And the operators of those games argue that there's more skill involved in setting up a fantasy team than there is in folding your hand in poker, or playing the numbers.
FanDuel and DraftKings responded in a joint statement Saturday affirming their belief that they don't offer "gambling."

"We are speaking with gaming industry representatives to educate them on the fantasy sports industry as our products are games of skill; fundamentally separate from, and not competitive with casinos and gaming businesses," the statement said.
I never chewed out an underachieving student with "If you'd spend half the time on incentives and arbitrage that you do on your fantasy team you'd be in great shape for the exam" but I bet I could have used that line more than once.

And I could nitpick the statement, in that people who hang out in the casino tavern or sports bar to watch the games rather than deal cards or play video poker, suggesting some interchangeability among traditional gambling and fantasy sports.

But none of that matters, if news out of Florida, where a state legislature is also investigating fantasy leagues, is a harbinger of what will come in Washington.
Two rival fantasy sports companies, FanDuel and DraftKings, have joined forces to hire one of Tallahassee's most prominent lobbying firms led by a well-known GOP fundraiser.
It doesn't matter what the legislature, or Congress, do.  K Street, and the Florida analogue, get to dip their beaks, and provide resources for campaign contributions.  It's all so much more civilized than "Nice place you got there.  Be a pity if something happened to it."  But it's a protection racket all the same.

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