Casino Watch Focus has reported on the new Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) industry, including the recent realization that at its core, its gambling, and that when left unregulated or banned, its leading to online scandals and wide spread investigation, including from the FBI and US Attorney General. Recently, New York investigated the practice of daily fantasy sports and quickly reached a ruling that its illegal, which lead to the attorney general’s office to issue a cease and desist order to DraftKings and FanDuel. The Washington Post explains:
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman found daily fantasy sites DraftKings and FanDuel in violation of the state’s gambling laws and sent both companies cease-and-desist letters to stop accepting payments – “wagers,” in his words – from New York residents.
The leagues that profit from it may be up next. Questioned about the leagues’ responsibility regarding daily fantasy, a spokesman in the New York attorney general’s office declined to comment, but did not rule out that it was an area of focus in the investigation.
The NBA, MLB, NFL and NHL all operate out of Manhattan. Just as MLB owns a little piece of DraftKings, the NBA owns a small percentage of FanDuel. The NHL shares an extensive marketing agreement with DraftKings. The NFL has attempted to keep the companies at arm’s length, but multiple team owners are heavily invested in both companies, and the league’s network partners draw massive advertising dollars from both of the daily fantasy titans.
Beyond just the individual state level, it’s rumored that the Department of Justice will outlaw DFS by the end of the year. Following the recent insider trading type scandal between FanDuel and Draft Kings, and perhaps seeing the writing on the wall, FanDuel CEO called for government regulation. The Wall Street Journal explains:
Nigel Eccles, who founded FanDuel in 2009, said Thursday that intervention by state governments is the only way to ensure consumers can trust the fantasy sports industry, which is facing a federal criminal probe and scrutiny by state regulators.
He said a plan announced this week by the industry’s trade group to police itself with an outside control board is positive but doesn’t go far enough. “Consumers want a higher level of protection,” he said in an interview. “They need to know it’s fair, that the information is protected. If the consumer doesn’t trust the industry than the business doesn’t exist.”
The most telling move though, just recently, and somewhat quietly, happened by DraftKings. They have started a program familiar to problem gamblers that the gambling industy refers to as a self-exclusion list. It’s a clear sign that they understand the dangers involved and it’s as close to an outright admission that the industry is simply gambling as you might expect. Self-exclusion lists aren’t always an effective tool, but, but the addition is a clear signal what type of product is being pushed. A regional online Boston website explains:
As it fends off comparisons to illegal gambling operations, Boston-based daily fantasy sports company DraftKings now offers a system familiar to many legal gambling businesses: a self-exclusion option, which allows users to deactivate their accounts for periods ranging from three months to five years. On a new responsible gaming section of its website, DraftKings presents the self-exclusion policy as a way to prevent addictive gaming.
DraftKings has resisted gambling comparisons in the U.S., arguing its games are valid under federal and most states’ gaming laws. But self-exclusion is common in the gambling industry, and its usage appears to be an acknowledgment by DraftKings that its users could be susceptible to the same kind of addictive play.
Les Bernal, the national director of the Washington, D.C.-based organization Stop Predatory Gambling, dismissed self-exclusion options as a “sham.” “The whole idea of somebody who’s an addict is the absence of free will. How does somebody who’s an addict exercise their free will?” Bernal said. “It’s a gimmick that’s not meant to protect the player. It’s meant to give the appearance of concern by Internet gambling companies like DraftKings.”
Self-exclusion can be helpful to gambling addicts who have already recognized they have a problem, but it does little to help those who have not reached that point of self-awareness, said Krystle Kelly, the director of development and communications at the Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling. “As a standalone, if that’s the only thing they’re doing to acknowledge this could be a gambling problem, I don’t think this is going to be very effective,” Kelly said. “If all of this negative attention did create these controls, I think that’s a good thing. I think that’s a step in the right direction. But I think there probably needs to be more work done to address high-risk populations.”
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