Fantasy Sports Business: Positive News Not Media Hype
Rick Wolf explains how Eric Schneiderman’s recent actions overshadowed good news in Missouri & Florida and what it all means to fantasy sports players.
WORLDS COLLIDE – FRIENDS, FAMILY AND FANTASY
On Wednesday night, my old friend and I decided to try to bring together 10-15 friends to enjoy drinks at our old stomping ground, the Cobblestone in Purchase NY. Unfortunately, any time I go out even to the grocery store, I have to educate people on the fantasy sports legal battle here in New York. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love that I had some small part in the way this industry was shaped before the DFS explosion led by DraftKings and FanDuel. I don’t speak for either company so I am honored that people want my opinion on this and I can give it unfiltered and honestly.
So as people arrive. Every one of them asks about the New York Attorney General. I explained to them what was in my column last week and encouraged them to read it. One of my old friends who is a lawyer begins a debate with me about gambling and fantasy sports. He is incredibly smart and has read a lot in the media on this issue. Another lawyer joins in and the Harvard Law school debate versus the prisoner begins. They were both knowledgeable and making cogent arguments, but as they talked and quoted the media instead of the law I realized how smart people can miss the real facts.
PEOPLE, EVEN LAWYERS, BELIEVE WHAT THEY READ AND WHAT IS REPORTED IN THE MEDIA.
Crazy. Within our discussion was also words like “fantasy sports gambling”. They laughed when I called that a unicorn. No such thing. If it is really fantasy sports by the definition, it is not a wager or a bet and therefore cannot be gambling. People need to see all the news and not just the negative stuff.
HOO! HOO! GOOD NEWS FOR FANTASY – NOW EVERYONE WILL KNOW
Also on Wednesday, we had fantastic news for the fantasy sports industry. Missouri introduced HB 1941 in advance of the legislature returning to session on January 6th. It was reported by Legal Sports Report and the St. Louis Post Dispatch, but I could not find it anywhere else.
It is a good bill that clarifies what constitutes fantasy sports in the state of Missouri and defines many other terms of importance for gambling laws in that state. Many states are doing this exact thing. Most of the bills that are on this subject, you can find in this list on Legal Sports Report. All good news for the most part.
WHAT THE HECK IS SCHNEIDERMAN DOING?
The Attorney General of New York, Eric Schneiderman decided to refile the lawsuits against fantasy sports leaders DraftKings and FanDuel to include damages for those in New York who did not win contests that they entered.
For the most part, his changes are to change the argument from daily fantasy sports is not a “skill-game” to attack what he perceives as fraudulent advertising. Most people just printed something similar to the AP story, but a couple of media outlets tried to figure it out with only ESPN’s Darren Rovell getting it right. Darren Rovell has been a long-time friend of the industry telling the story correctly and usually giving the industry a voice. In this person’s opinion the Attorney General wants to prove that the advertising was misleading and they used Las Vegas style deposit bonuses to get people involved that would not be received by the customer until they had committed entry fees that were thirty times larger than the bonuses. This way that when legislation is passed this year, he can take credit for creating the conversation that clarified daily fantasy sports as legal while still hurting DraftKings and FanDuel.
The quote from David Boies, DraftKing’s attorney is the one that most accurately tells of what is happening here: “Like the NYAG original complaint, it is based on the fundamental misunderstanding of fantasy sports competitions. Originally, the NYAG claimed that daily fantasy sports were illegal gambling because they were games of chance. That was disproven. Now, the NYAG complains that DFS contests are so much contests of skill that some advertising is misleading because, the NYAG says, certain ads imply that DFS contests are games of chance. This claim, too, is baseless.”
The media however, only sells newspapers and gets an audience if it is a gladiator battle to the death.
So although this is bad news for DraftKings and FanDuel, it is NOT bad news for the longevity of the industry and the sky is not falling.
On big bone to pick on this though - fraudulent advertising? REALLY? Bulls&^%!
I live in New York State. I am on the New York State “Do not call” list. This is supposed to stop phone solicitors from calling me. I get 3 to 5 calls every day. Hell, at 10:02 AM each day when the phone rings, I answer “Hello, Bridget.” I am then greeted by a recording that starts “Hello, this is Bridget from Card Holder Services.” I get calls that are from “Microsoft” telling me they can help me with my computer; timeshare companies, chimney sweepers, solar panel salespeople, police, fireman, breast cancer awareness, colleges, politicians and even from the churches in neighboring towns.
NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION: FOCUS ON POSITIVE THINGS
So, what the hell is it that makes us as humans drawn to the negative? Why can’t we focus on the positive? It is the Scorpion and the Frog I guess. It is in our nature to love the negative. Well, I for one will not be that way. I have been blessed to work in sports all my life and fantasy sports makes the games more fun to watch and a great skill-based hobby for all Americans.
So, the media has been telling you that the real problem states are:
Illinois: In Illinois, House Bill 4323 provides for clarification of the state law with respect to fantasy sports. This is a positive bill for fantasy sports.
New York: Is this negative or is it politics? It may be negative for the big companies while they have to spend legal fees to fight this, but that happens in all industries.
Personally, I do not think the entire industry is in jeopardy because of what is happening in New York. So my official New Year’s Resolution is to…