Debate of the Year: Is DFS a Game of Skill or Chance?
What do you think?
Ever since a DraftKings employee was accused of using insider information to make a lot of cash at FanDuel, daily fantasy sports are in the middle of a lot of discussions. Lawmakers seem to consider the service a form of gambling, much like when you play online games at red flush casino
, while the FSTA (the Fantasy Sports Trading Association) and the biggest businesses offering these services insist that it's not. The debate has led to a series of legal battles, bans and injunctions in the past six months, but still no definitive decision on the nature of the service itself.
What is "fantasy sports"?
Fantasy sports is an online game where participants assemble fantasy (imaginary) teams of real world athletes, professional players, and pitch them against each other. These teams compete based on the performances of the actual players throughout the season. And this seems to be the keyword here - most traditional fantasy sports games last for a whole season.
Daily fantasy sports is a similar service, but with a completely different timing. DFS games, as their name suggests, last for one day instead of a whole season, so players can receive their cash rewards - a portion of the pot - at the end of the day. Users pay an entry fee, assemble a team in a way similar to traditional fantasy sports. Part of the entry fees go into the prize pot, while the rest is taken as a rake-off by the operator.
Is DFS legal?
It certainly is, according to the operators, represented by the FTSA. The organization surely considers it a legal game of skill rather than a game of chance - it is its job after all. And legislators had nothing against fantasy sports in general until recently, when the famous insider scandal broke out last year. This focused a lot of attention on the service, which also triggered a wave of politicians questioning its legality.
Nevada was the first state to tie DFS to a gambling license. Several more states followed, with the most famous case being the one of New York against DraftKings and FanDuel, which is far from being over yet. Most recently Rhode Island's Attorney General has declared that daily fantasy sports is legal. In Peter Kilmartin's opinion DFS is a unique mix of skill and chance (so is blackjack and poker, by the way), which makes it legal under Rhode Island's law.
The controversy around the service comes from its dual nature. If it would be a game of chance, the winners would be completely random. But if it was a game of pure skill, the winners would always be the same people. What's your opinion as a player: what is DFS? Skill or chance?