The online gambling industry, which once fought for the legalization of online sports betting, is now turning its attention to fantasy sports leagues. Major players like FanDuel and DraftKings are leading the charge, using legal maneuvers to try to render fantasy league wagering illegal. This is raising concerns about stifling competition and consumer choice.
In a landmark victory in 2018, the Supreme Court overturned the federal ban on sports betting, giving online gambling giants the confidence to target fantasy sports leagues. This sudden shift in stance has led to accusations of incumbent interests leveraging political influence to quash emerging rivals.
The rapid rise of fantasy sports leagues, with 50 million participants nationwide, has made it the fastest-growing segment in American sports. However, the industry is facing scrutiny over whether fantasy sports should be classified as games of skill or games of chance.
The Sports Betting Alliance, which represents traditional online gaming firms, argues that fantasy leagues operate as illicit gambling platforms disguised as harmless entertainment. This argument has found resonance in regulatory circles, with the Wyoming Gaming Commission deeming fantasy leagues as unlawful gambling enterprises.
Critics of the industry’s bid to stifle competition through regulation argue that there is no tangible evidence of harm to the public, suggesting that the push to criminalize fantasy sports is motivated by a desire to preserve market dominance rather than protect consumers.
In September last year, the Florida Gaming Control Commission issued cease-and-desist letters to daily fantasy sports operators, including Underdog Sports, PrizePicks, and Betr, alleging potential involvement in illegal sports betting activities. While industry giants DraftKings and FanDuel escaped scrutiny, emerging players like Betr, backed by Jake Paul, faced regulatory obstacles in Florida, impacting their plans to revolutionize the traditional betting experience.
Overall, the industry’s efforts to target fantasy sports leagues through legal and regulatory means are causing a stir, with concerns about the potential consequences for competition, consumer choice, and the future of online gambling.