New York State Bans Daily Fantasy Sports Websites

Well, this one is interesting.  I declined to write about the Draftkings and Fanduel scandal of about a month ago because it all seemed to be a little bit blown out of proportion and because it seemed relatively easy to analyze.  Yes, just about every step should be taken to prevent insider deals in any industry.  Yes, those who did should be punished heavily.  And yes, daily fantasy sports is clearly gambling.

Should it be banned in 49 states?  Now that’s an interesting topic that actually has a debate within it.  Your own answer might come down to your own personal politics on gambling, but it’s a more complicated issue than just gambling itself.

The only thing that bothers me unequivocally about this announcement is that it smells a lot like a PR job to some degree.  here was Eric T. Schneiderman’s, the attorney general’s, statement on the immediately effective ban:

“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.”

That’s a blatant reach for PR if I’ve ever heard one.  The phrase “Not on my watch” is nauseating because of the general corniness and douchiness (yep, that’s a word, look it up) behind it.  I was gonna look up Schneiderman’s political career to see if he’s up for re-election soon, but then I remembered that it doesn’t matter.  Any politician nowadays is always campaigning, and they’ll often put campaigning above solving real issues.

Regardless of the politics or political aspirations behind the move, the prohibition of FDS in New York is an important issue.  If fantasy spots is basically gambling, should we outlaw it, or does the fact that it’s “basically” gambling and not the gambling we’ve always known allow it to scrape by?  Should states be the ones to outlaw it individually, or should the federal government make a law that affects everyone outside of Nevada?  And at the core of the issue, should any government even try to control online gambling at all in 2015?

That last question is the on that interests me the most, and my opinion on it has changed in the last few years.  A factor that you’re unlikely to hear about during this news story is the prominence of sports gambling sites that do not have URLs from the United States.  I use Bovada to place wagers on sports at a very small amount, and I can’t even remember the country in which the website is headquartered.

And that’s why I ultimately am against the prohibition of all this stuff.  It’s only a matter of time until Americans can bet on some DFS site or a cousin of DFS that we don’t even know exists yet, only their URL will be in some country that you haven’t heard of since 7th grade geography class.  At that point, let’s try to make sure that the American government can regulate whatever DFS sites we are using, right?

I’ll generally fall on the side of “If it’s gonna happen anyway and we can’t knock it out, then let’s legalize it, regulate it, and make sure that the government gets tax dollars from it.”  Such similar arguments are made about marijuana nowadays, and I’m in favor of those, too.  That’s where I fall on DFS.  It has to be regulated, and the fact that it took until insider deals were being made to regulate it is laughable.  And since it’s gambling, the states that regulate it should be allowed to get a piece of the action, the same way that the government used the end of prohibition to tax alcohol or that Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and Washington DC have gotten million of tax dollars from legal marijuana.

You can’t remove every vice from society.  But you can make sure that society benefits from the use of these vices.  However possible that is in the case of Daily Fantasy Sites, that’s what the United States should do.

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