from the here-we-go-again dept
As you probably know, daily fantasy sports sites (specifically those two) have exploded in popularity in the last year or so, mostly based on something of a loophole in anti-online gambling laws in the US. When those laws were passed, at the demands of the casino business (and bizarrely attached to a bill about protecting our ports), there was an exception for "fantasy sports." At the time, of course, this meant fantasy sports leagues where you joined for the full season, or at least something along those lines. Then Fan Duel (which started out in Scotland as a prediction market for betting on the news) realized that it could make a sort of "daily" fantasy sports league that was legal under these rules, and Draft Kings followed a couple years later. With their explosion in popularity, it's no surprise that they'd start receiving regulatory scrutiny. Indeed, Congress and the Justice Department have both kicked off investigations of these sites in the past couple of months.
It wouldn't surprise me at all to find that both sites will soon face much stricter regulatory control. That's the nature of the game, especially when it involves something that, if not "gambling" certainly feels like gambling to many policymakers, and the supporters of moral panics. Of course, rushing in to regulate will almost certainly cause problems, blocking off potential innovations in this field that could be much better for all involved.
And thus, NY's Eric Schneiderman enters the fray, reinforcing his reputation as someone willing to attack internet platforms that most users love, just because of a few small incidents of potential abuse. In this case, he's basically cut off these two platforms without any sort of court ruling.
"It is clear that DraftKings and FanDuel are the leaders of a massive, multibillion-dollar scheme intended to evade the law and fleece sports fans across the country," Mr. Schneiderman said, adding, "Today we have sent a clear message: not in New York, and not on my watch."I recognize that some people can have serious problems with gambling that can create problems in their lives -- but many more are able to enjoy gambling for what it is. And it's kind of bizarre for Eric Schneiderman to declare "fantasy sports" gambling when he represents the state where Wall Street exists -- which involves significantly more "gambling" than anything coming out of two internet companies that many people seem to like using. People aren't being "fleeced" when they willingly participate in one of these daily fantasy sports sites. If there are -- as Schneiderman suggests -- misleading ads about the likelihood of winning or the amounts people can win, take issue with that, rather than shutting down the whole thing.
In the meantime, doing a big grandstanding rush job to shut these sites down to get all the headlines, without the benefit of a careful review and thoughtful understanding of the issues at play just seems like Schneiderman, once again, reminding innovative startups that New York is not welcoming for such innovation.