The Fantasy Hypocrisy: It Isn’t Gambling but College Athletes and Professional Athletes Better Not Play It.

() HareMaybe because the NFL owners can see the big picture they know that despite its present popularity the future looks dim. They anticipate as the science clearly shows the link between head butting and brain damage that parents are going to prohibit their children from playing football. How long will it be before some towns prohibit football teams or some parents who let their children play the game are deemed unfit parents by some social agency?

I assume because they see the upcoming down turn in the popularity of football that the billionaire owners like Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys and Bob Kraft of your dearly beloved Patriots have decided to get into the gambling business. They probably recognized that the funding from the military to the tune of $5.6 million over a four-year span was only chicken feed. Your beloved Patriots were the second greediest of all the 18  teams that squeezed our military.

Now don’t fool yourself like the Massachusetts governor and his attorney general that fantasy football is not gambling. It is a classic form of gambling based on chance. Despite its popularity, or as some say legalization, that does not change it into something other than gambling.

I’ve written before how pernicious gambling is and how it destroys lives of young kids. All you doubters have to look at these two words if you doubt me: Nick Roberto. He is a junior at Boston University and he will not be allowed to play on the hockey team because he was involved in gambling.  Here’s the headline from Yahoo News: “Gambling Scandal Hits Boston University Hockey, Roberto Suspended.”       

How can gambling be scandalous if it is legal. Does it bother you that the owners of the NFL teams and owners of other professional teams are involved in running gambling businesses but if a kid succumbs to their alluring ads then he loses his right to play college sports? If not, it should.

Now we don’t know what gambling if any Roberto was involved in. We will find out in due time. But let’s look at the situation facing college students at the present time.

The College Hockey News cited above states: NCAA by-laws, a player who is found gambling on any sporting event, amateur or pro in any sport, via a “bookie” or the Internet, faces a minimum one-year suspension. Other gambling, even through legal means such as fantasy sports, are subject to a suspension of an undetermined length.”  It went on to note, as we know when it comes to college kids, “For some of the players, the gambling activities incurred “large” debts, which eventually led to the situation coming to light.

You’ll note even the NCAA recognizes that fantasy sports betting is gambling; although it considers it legal. The bottom line is that a college student, or for that matter anyone, can lose as much money in fantasy sports run by NFL owners as he or she would going through a Mafia bookie. How much more tempting is it for a student to gamble with outfits such as DraftKings  or Fan Duel than it is through a bookie who most college kids will have unfamiliarity with. Although once the gambling bug bites I’m sure the student will find a bookie.

The fear of the NCAA is spelled out in many of its programs.  It has really been taken back by the rise of fantasy sports.  It is reported the power football conferences have asked the major fantasy sports betting sites to stop daily college fantasy leagues.  The person writing the article suggested it wasn’t gambling that bothered them it was, and they will never admit to this, is seeing its assets be used for profit outside of their control.” My readers will note I’ve said the same about the NFL.

It was noted that while some colleges express concern that gambling threatens “the well-being of student-athletes” they are still running daily fantasy ads during their games. It is suggested their athletic programs benefit from the increase ad revenue that comes along and increased interest in the games by those who have made bets on them.

The hypocrisy is astounding. The NFL puts a cap on how much a member of a team can bet which is $250.  I don’t suppose there is any limit on their family or friends. MLB which has a stake in DraftKings prohibits its players from playing fantasy football.  It appears the NBA and NHL may also do it.

Why, if it is not gambling and it is legal are the professional leagues prohibiting their players from participating?

The great dilemma facing the NFL owners is how to pretend there is nothing wrong with fantasy football while knowing if their players start playing the game it will undermine the game’s integrity; or what is left of it.

The NFL players who can affect the outcome of fantasy betting are well paid and less likely to do it; the college kids who are pressed for money and have no future in the sport beyond college will be likely targets for gamblers.  Over and above the total hypocrisy by all involved and the likelihood of corruption; how can you expect college athletes not to get involved in playing fantasy sports when all their roommates are doing it?

4 thoughts on “The Fantasy Hypocrisy: It Isn’t Gambling but College Athletes and Professional Athletes Better Not Play It.

  1. Matt I think you really are making a mountain out a mole hill. It’s almost impossible for a single player to effect the outcome of a game that would result in them winning lots of money in fan duel and draft kings. It is much different than betting a point spread. I implore you to learn how the games work before dedicating blog after blog to the evils of fantasy sports. Season long fantasy sports have been around since the internet started. Daily leagues are new and are constantly advertised, so now that attention is on them, all the puritans have their feathers ruffled. I understand your distaste for old school book making because of how you’ve seen organized crime violently impact gamblers lives, but daily fantasy sports just don’t carry the same dangers. Just like drugs or booze, too much of gambling is a bad thing, but if properly regulated and done in moderation, it’s a fun way to pass the time. Ask all the old ladies down at the slots in Mohegan or Foxwoods.

    1. Dave:

      Good post. I do come from a different perspective on this. I suppose like I criticize Carmen Ortiz for saying “stealing is stealing” I should not be going around saying “gambling is gambling.” I do however believe that the evils inherent in gambling exist equally whether it is fantasy football as it is now being sold or any other type of internet gambling. It is especially pernicious because it sucks in the young college kids who otherwise would probably not have access to gambling.

      I am familiar with the season long fantasy game – one of my sons has played it for years. Even with that I thought he spent too much time thinking of trading his players and what not during the season. I said nothing though. But it showed me how addictive it became for him even though not much money was at stake.

      I agree with you that it is almost impossible for one or two players to control the outcome of a game; but the professional leagues seem to think it is not as impossible as we do because it prohibits or restricts its players from playing the game. Those owners must have a reason for doing that.

      I do know for many it adds to the excitement of the games. I’ve listened to calls where guys were betting “dimes” (thousands) on games and saying that unless they did that they could not watch the game. I do not advocate caning gamblers as they do in Indonesia; I’ve never felt that the bookies I prosecuted were any more than guys who enjoyed the job and earned a few extra bucks and I looked upon myself as collecting taxes from those at the lower levels who I would indict and convict. I do think that if gambling is legal in one form it should be legal in all forms although I do understand that more danger does lie in allowing betting on teams with the spread since those are more susceptible to being fixed.

      One final thought: I was mildly distressed at our attorney general and governor who pretended that fantasy was not gambling rather than admitting that it was and that it should be regulated. I believe the attorney general in Illinois had it right when she said it was gambling and urged the legislature in her state to make it legal if that is what they wanted; also the attorney general in New York who dared to enforce the law there pretty much doing what the Illinois AG did. The weird thing is our attorney general plans to regulate it even though the legislature has not given her any powers to do this.

      Thanks for you input.

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