Recently we wrote about What Wastes More Employee Time: Fantasy Football or Microsoft Upgrades? Before we went any further down this path, we wanted to give you some more background in the sport.
An estimated 30 million Americans play the cybersport. From politicians like President Obama, who famously played with sportswriter Rick Reilly in 2008, to celebrities like Elizabeth Banks, Jason Bateman, and Paul Rudd, to professional football players themselves, it seems almost everyone has a team.
So what exactly is it? It’s a game in which football fans take the term “armchair quarterback” to a whole new level. About a dozen people get together to form a league. There are various styles of play, and the leagues can have different rules. But, in general, each member becomes an owner and drafts real NFL players for his or her virtual team. The owners pick their starting lineup each week to match up against one another throughout the season. Points are earned based on action from the professional games, such as yards gained, touchdowns and field goals.
Early versions of the hobby started in the ’50s, but fantasy sports — especially fantasy football — became popular in the ’80s and ’90s. The Internet created the optimal platform for the game, and now there are dozens of websites that host leagues for free (not to mention the hundreds boasting of draft strategies, player statistics and game pointers).
Read more about Fantasy Football.
Now the question comes up: Should Fantasy Football Be Illegal? As the world of fantasy sports changes, the line between legal and illegal becomes increasingly blurry.
Some of the newest incarnations of fantasy football look a lot more like gambling than intricate, outsmart-your-opponent strategy games.
Since 2011, the billion-dollar fantasy market has been infused with dozens of daily and weekly games. Those games allow players to win huge prizes quickly, sometimes in one week, sometimes in just one night. With players betting thousands or even tens of thousands a night, legal experts believe it’s time to review the section of the 2006 federal law that was written specifically to protect fantasy sports from being banned the way online poker was.
“There’s importance in clarifying the law,” says Marc Edelman, a professor at Fordham Law School who studies the law as it applies to fantasy sports. “As long as there’s uncertainty about the legality of these games, some potential businesses that might enter the marketplace stay out.”
Seasonal leagues are largely the domain of billion-dollar companies such as CBS and ESPN, with close ties to the NFL. For now, they have remained on the sidelines of the short-term business, leaving it largely in the hands of companies such as FanDuel, which is expecting to triple its base to 500,000 fans this season.
Traditional leagues at ESPN and elsewhere received their legal clearance from the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which was designed mainly to stop Internet poker. It included an important “carve out” for fantasy football. Meanwhile, most state laws define fantasy football as skill-based propositions, which keeps them legal.
Peter Schoenke, chairman of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, says daily and weekly games that adhere to the group’s rules also are protected by the 2006 law, and that the NFL and Major League Baseball “have fully embraced fantasy sports in all forms, both free and pay.”
“If a game operator doesn’t follow the UIEGA, the FSTA doesn’t consider the contest to be a true ‘fantasy sports’ contest,” Schoenke said.
Now to round out this discussion, let’s look at: Like football, running an Information Technology organization is a team sport. Every member of each respective group—not just the quarterback or the CIO—has an important role to play. Lots of similarities.