Daily fantasy sports ban in the US stirs controversy

27 states across the US, ranging from New York to Alabama, decided to ban the operation of various websites hosting daily fantasy sports, a subset of traditional fantasy sports. Fantasy sports is a popular online game format where players assemble and manage virtual sports teams based on real-life records. This state-by-state regulation has been ongoing since November 2015, based on claims by government officials that fantasy sports are similar to other forms of illegal gambling.

According to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, daily fantasy sports websites fuel the same public health and economic concerns that illegal gambling does. His office’s investigations into the two most popular fantasy sports websites, DraftKings and FanDuel, revealed that both websites had gaming systems that were very similar to that of a lottery.

“Daily fantasy sports is extremely different from the more commonly played traditional fantasy sports and comes with many more harms,” said Joonhee Han (11), experienced player of both traditional and daily fantasy sports. “I know that players cannot earn much money from the process of playing traditional fantasy sports itself, so it is very distant from the idea of gambling. On the other hand, daily fantasy sports involves directly betting and earning money, which makes it a much more dangerous and addictive activity.”

Despite such concerns, however, the restrictions set on daily fantasy sports have stirred up controversy amongst fans of e-gaming, as they deem it more a form of entertainment than a method of gambling.

“Daily fantasy sports often involves more skill than luck, because players are required to draft real athletes to form their own fantasy teams,” Toby Han (12) said. “Knowledge about various athletes’ strengths and probable performance are crucial to form a successful team—mere luck cannot bring about desirable results. Daily fantasy sports is more of a recreational activity that many people use to kill time, and should not be problematic on a legal level.”

Previously, more than 300 daily fantasy sports fans crowded around in the sidewalk outside of Schneiderman’s office near Wall Street, protesting against his ban of fantasy sports websites in New York. Among the protestors were employees of fantasy sports websites and members of Fantasy Sports For All, a group created by leading providers to protect the rights of fantasy sports players. This grassroot effort, however, has been met with conflicting perspectives.

“I find it ridiculous that most of the people protesting against the daily fantasy sports ban consisted of people working for the industry,” Sarah Park (9) said. “It seems like they are only against the anti-fantasy sports law because their jobs depend on the gaming, not because of the merits that the game brings.”