A Gamer's Perspective on the Daily Fantasy Sports Controversy

Allison D. - LLI Columbus

What if I said that fantasy sports are like some fantasy video games? You have a vast selection of characters, each with different strengths. Some may be better at defense, either defending the team or defending the goal line. Others may be better at offense, either attacking the monster or soccer ball. There is skill, some chance, and a bountiful amount of knowledge used to assemble your team and develop your character, whether as a member of the team or the team manager.

However, the characters are ultimately not perfect and can make mistakes, changing the game on a daily basis, a chance you have to take.  Fantasy computer games, especially if online, come with many updates that can completely change the character’s statistics. Fantasy sport games come with many updates through actual sporting events that also change character statistics. Both take into account statistics, the probability (not chance) of making a goal or making a critical attack and more. However, because most fantasy sports require payment, some lawmakers believe that fantasy sports constitute gambling, like poker.

MSNBC’s video suggests that the line between gambling and games is the game is one of chance or skill. However, like fantasy sports, poker requires skill, yet poker is seen as gambling.

The different between poker and fantasy sports? The number of players and amount paid doesn’t impact the pay-out won at the end, and this difference is important.

According to the “Are Daily Sports Legal” article, the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act states the betting or wagering doesn’t include games where “all prices and awards offered to winning participants are established and made known to the participants in advance of the game or contest and their value is not determines by the number of participants or the amount of any fees paid by those participants.” In fact, some fantasy video games, clearly not seen as gambling games, allow players to pay different amount for better chances at winning. So, clearly, these fantasy sport games do not fall into the category of gambling, because the reward for winning is set and not impacted by the amount paid and the number of players.

Those who see fantasy sports as gambling argue that it can be addicting, as stated in CNBC's video, but almost anything can be addicting, not just gambling. Gaming addiction and shopping addiction are forms of addiction not related to gambling. In fact, addiction is any “maladaptive pattern of substance use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress,” as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. So, addiction arguments made by the opposition are invalid.

Some regard fantasy sports as unlawful gambling, but a lot of evidence states otherwise. Like fantasy action games, fantasy sports requires a lot of skill, knowledge, and strategy. Paying money can increase your end rewards in a set way for both fantasy sports and action games, but unlike poker, the end reward in fantasy sports is not reliant on how much the players pay and the number of players.

Admittedly, fantasy sports can becomes addicting because it is exciting and can take over your life, but so can gaming, Netflix, shopping and more. As such, I believe that fantasy sport games, even the daily, fast-paced ones, should not be considered gambling, just as fantasy action, role playing games are not.



  • Rose, Nelson. "Gambling and the Law: Are Daily Fantasy Sports Legal?" Web blog post. Gambling and the Law. Asian Gaming Lawyer. October 2015.
  • First Amended Complaint. The People of the State of New York v. Draft Kings. Index No. 453054. 31 Dec. 2015. 
  • "A.G. Schneiderman Announces $12 Million Settlement with Draftkings and Fanduel." Press Release. New York Office of the Attorney General. 
  • Woodward, Curt. "DraftKings to Settle Lawsuit from N.Y. for $6m." Globe Staff. The Boston Globe. 25 Oct 2016.
  • Gouker, Dustin. "Daily Fantasy Sports is Back in Business in New York: Gov. Cuomo Signs Bill." Daily Fantasy Sports. Legal Sports Report, 3 Aug 2016.