New Sites Attempt to Reel Gamblers into Fantasy Sports



David Blondin

As the month of Augustnears its latter halfand the dog days linger, young men and women around the nation feel excited to begin nights of staying up late crunching numbers, buying study materials, and finally cracking open the booksto preparethemselves for intellectual conversations amongst one another.

If you’re thinking this occurs due to the start of the school year, you’re wrong. Rather, fantasy football draft season has arrived.

In fantasy football, participants draft National Football League (NFL) players onto imaginary teams to compete during the NFL season. Each week, the fantasy players score points that correspond toreal players’ performance statistics in the NFL that week. The game gives its players a faux-managerial experience.

Traditionally, fantasy football became immensely popular with sports fans. As awareness of the game grew, an academic reason for participating arose: The fantasy sport market adopted mock drafts, spread sheets, and mathematical and statistical graphs. In fact, the phenomenon has grown so much that people are now paid to study the statistical side of sports for the mere purpose of the fantasy versions.

After all, Professor Frink from The Simpsons once said, “Baseball [for example] is a sport played by the dexterous, but only understood by the point dexterous.”

Aside from the academic or sport-loving incentives for participation, however, a separate group of people is perhaps the most involved newdemographic of fantasy sports players: gambling addicts.

Most friendly fantasy leagues tend to have buy-in fees, included to increase playing incentive. This concept has become twisted into a new medium of online gambling. Restrictions on these sports-gambling sites have not really solidified yet, but that does not meanthe gambling atmospherewill not be a problem for fantasy sitesin the future.

The popular online sport-betting site Draft Kings brought in 40 million dollars of revenue in 2014; that number continues to grow each year. With more and more people using Draft Kings annually, the Federal Government will certainly intervene at some point. Gambling on sports is already illegal in the United States in all but five states.With the arising of new sports-gambling sites,addicts from around the nation will easily have a quick fix accessible. Gambling apologists usually bring up the libertarian argument of free choice in self-defense of this inferred problem, perhaps suggesting Social Darwinism as a solution to our societal problems.

Recently, gambling became a proposed mental illness by the American Psychological Associations (APA). There is nothing wrong with church bingo or a March Madness office pool, but corporations have twisted the innocent concept of fantasy sports like fantasy footballinto opportunities for profit by usingand trying to reel in troubled individuals like gamblers.

As fantasy football season approaches, try to keep tabs not only on NFL players’ abilities, but on the growing and problematic development of gambling sites and online fantasy sports.

It will be interesting to see how legislationor legal precedence will or will not change in upcomingyearsto deal with this growing public health problem.