For everyday fantasy sports, walking a fine line like a game of skill

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[toc]The daily fantastic sports the industry has tried to thread the needle pretty much since its inception.

The enigma: to offer a game that passes the course like a “skill game” under state laws that govern gambling, but a game that is pretty easy to win – at least sometimes – for the average user.

“Players of all skill levels can win”

A recent featured in The Baltimore Sun got into this dichotomy a bit, telling the story of an ex-convict who won $ 300,000 at DraftKings. In short, the user in question is not what would be considered a DFS “pro”, who examines the data to define their queues every week.

A statement from DraftKings to the Sun touched on this topic (emphasis added):

“Players enter picks in a variety of ways, and the way Eddie entered his picks is not unusual. In fact, we see it a lot among our winners, ”DraftKings said in a statement. “As evidenced by Eddie’s victory, yes, players of all levels can win in our contests. We know that our business and our contests will only continue to be successful if everyone understands our unwavering commitment to a level playing field. “

Something the DFS industry fought against

I’ve read just about everything that comes out of the DFS industry over the past few years, and I don’t think I’ve seen this kind of wording come from anyone associated with DraftKings or FanDuel. (I’ll wonder aloud if DraftKings Legal has approved this statement.)

For example, here is what DraftKings lawyer said David Boies when we talk about a court case on the legality of DFS in new York.

“If you are able to influence gambling or control gambling, and the wording of the law is control or influence, then that is not gambling under New York law,” said Boies. “Anyone who thinks that everyday fantasy sports players do not control or influence their behavior in these competitions has never played in these competitions. These contests require a lot of skill, and skill is what gives people the ability to influence or control the outcome.

In the end, the most recent take from DraftKings is a completely accurate statement. Anyone can win a single contest – or win money on a small sample – regardless of their skill level at DFS. During sufficiently large sample size, competence shines through. But the most skilled DFS player doesn’t win every contest he takes part in.

We should be past the point of worrying about skill versus chance

Like I always said in this space and somewhere else, I think DFS is a skill-based form of play. Here is the basic argument of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association that fantasy sports are a skill game.

In an ideal world, whether or not DFS is playing shouldn’t matter. It should be legal and regulated, and anyone who wants to gamble should be able to do so.

The reason the discussion is always important: DFS legality is not a matter of law settled in a wide range of jurisdictions in the United States. About a year ago, the DFS industry insisted that it was a legal skill game in 45 states; due to legal issues in some states, DraftKings and FanDuel now serve less.

Yet the industry is often winning the battle between skill and chance in state houses. Ten states have passed laws define DFS as a legal skill game; including Maryland, where the law was challenged. Eight of these states passed laws this year.

Yet the debate over whether DFS is a game of skill or a game probably won’t leave. But for everyone’s sake, it would be nice if it did.

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