Distinction between Gambling and Daily Fantasy Sports is Unclear

For many Americans, online gaming options are limited. Only three states feature a legal and regulated iGaming market, while the rest of the country deals with grey-market online casinos and poker sites. But one option that is unquestionably legal and available to the entire United States is daily fantasy sports.

With daily fantasy sports (DFS), players pay a buy-in fee to draft lineups and pit their team against others. Those who choose the best-performing players will win prize money while the rest lose their buy-ins. And while this sounds a lot like gambling, Matt King, CEO of FanDuel, has a different opinion on the matter. “We look at it and say, ‘It’s not gambling,'” King tells USA Today. “It’s an entertainment product.”

But what’s to say that online poker and casino games aren’t also entertainment products, rather than gambling? This is the question that was up for debate among a group of gaming regulators and officials at Las Vegas’ Paris Hotel and Casino. Specifically, many wanted to know what keeps DFS from being gambling.

“Of course it’s gambling,” said Joe Asher, CEO of William Hill US. “Of course it’s sports betting. It doesn’t mean that it’s subject necessarily to the same laws. You’re risking money on something of an uncertain outcome, and to me that sounds like gambling.” Asher is among those who hope for iGaming regulation to spread throughout the US, though it’s confined to Delaware, New Jersey and Nevada right now.

Perhaps the main distinction is which activity the professional and collegiate sports leagues support. The MLB, NBA, NCAA, NFL and NHL have vehemently opposed sports betting, and they aren’t too keen on internet casino games either. But when it comes to DFS, sports leagues have embraced the activity because it raises fan participation and encourages more people to watch the games.

This is where some see hypocrisy in how DFS and other forms of iGaming are treated. This is especially true when one considers how the aforementioned leagues banded together to sue New Jersey when they tried to legalize sports betting. More recently, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has come out in support of sports betting, but there’s still stiff opposition from the other leagues, mainly because they fear sports being tainted. However, regardless of the reasoning, this won’t stop certain individuals from questioning how DFS is legal.