Yes, I realize it’s an obscure Billy Joel song focused on another of man’s most popular hobbies long before the Internet and our generation’s fascination with Fantasy Sports were dreamed about. The bizarre spotlight recently examines our government’s inane ruling of “skill” aspects of fantasy sports versus “random chance” inherent in online poker and sports wagering. In other words we can intelligently, harmlessly and legally make our points but not our point spreads. Huh?
For example, with the basic premise of NFL fantasy football leagues to accumulate points predicting performance of individual players, the US Department of Justice believes you have the SKILL to judge and predict the sole performance and health of say Adrian Peterson vs.LaDanian Tomlinson each week. Guess so. Excuse me, I mean un-guess so. Conversely, according to NFL & NBA lobbyists, The Federal Reserve and United States Treasury, it’s CHANCE or LUCK for us to predict NFL team scoring outcome. Betting on the Eagles, the Twins, Oklahoma, etc. is a definite no-no.
What’s Not a Fantasy
Let us not waste words covering emphasis and opinion of our economic crisis. Please fast forward to superior articles in the New York Times analyzing what could be the worst outlook spanning 80 years. But ask yourself how could Congress spend two crucial minutes arguing this issue, legislating the reinforcement and rules of the UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act) during an economic firestorm? Incredibly, it did happen through the power of NFL lobbyists and departing forces in the Bush administration. While leading opponent Barney Frank (D), Chairman of the Financial Services Committee becomes dizzy in disgust, the Congress found time to legislate new principal rules enforcing laws prohibiting banks to process off shore transactions for online gaming. And in a surprise, determined specific language for “games of skill” and what are contests “with predominant chance” plus tossed in a bit of morality to boot.
No, no. They didn’t forget about wagering on our four-legged friends. The red, white and blue judged betting on horse racing is a skill, protecting this USA taxed-based industry and on-line affiliated services from reinforced banking rules. Isn’t it comforting to know all those hours behind the Daily Racing Form are education-based where you can legally brag about hitting the 7th at Belmont to Angie and Rocco? Just remember claiming that 600-1 or more trifecta you cashed on your 1040 come tax time. That’s neither a fantasy nor a skill.
Commissioners of the USA Fantasy Football League
The astonishing priority enforcing UIGEA rules and protecting fantasy sports belongs to the mega power of the NFL and their powerful political base in Washington. President Bush appointee and attorney William Wichterman represents the NFL as a clear opponent of online gaming. He is a close ally of Bill Frist, Republican architect/proponent of the UIGEA and former Senate Majority Leader. As a powerful DC lobbyist, his remaining hours testimony and Bush-supported influence along with several others was instrumental in pushing the rule enforcement through faster than Larry Fitzgerald. While banks wrestle with their own financial survival they now have a seemingly clear distinction following what constitutes fantasy and reality processing credit card transactions. How it will be enforced and flawlessly executed in 2009 is anybody’s guess.
Fantasies for Sale
A startling reality is fantasy sports account for over $800 million dollars of USA revenue. While there is no government study available on the numerous work hours spent on drafts, analysis and stats accumulation, it far surpasses any debatable length of time checking traditional wagering lines for updated sports action. And while poker sites are often unreachable and blocked in the workplace, they also are not comparable. Did the Gov calculate this before ruling what was harmless vs. evil? Did actuaries research fantasy enthusiasts spending an estimated 15-20 hours a week mesmerized by their rapidly growing ‘hobby’?
Who is to control the amount of dollars lost innocently in leagues, pools and goes untaxed compared to “dumb luck” of poker and sports book wagering? Consider this Congressmen: What happens when the popularity of fantasy sports spills over to online off shore sports betting shops? Imagine the potential of big fat prizes morphed into an offer of weekly and seasonal proposition player wagers!
Where your Fantasies Come True
Only the smartest, most skillful fantasy enthusiast can rely on their memory competitively in a league. That’s where the most contradictory, confusing aspect lands. To quote Sir Francis Bacon, “Knowledge is Power”. And the most popular place fantasy folks look to increase their knowledge occurs at a website named sportsline.com or CBS Sportline.com. That’s correct. The very same NFL partner distancing themselves from any sort of gambling participation supports fantasy sports as a number one buddy. Even if you believe Kevin Bacon originated that quote you’d have to agree this is somewhat hypocritical. While no traditional bookmaking lines are available at sportsline.com, the most detailed statistics comparable to Wall Street research are very click-friendly for all fantasy sports.
With lucrative co-op advertising to be made it’s a cinch numerous sophisticated sites will be battling it out to serve fantasy sports junkies in the future including monolith ESPN. That also answers any curiosity why those endless stats continuously update like a stock ticker on the bottom of the television.
According to the government report, fantasy sports are purely non-addictive, ethical fun. But who’s to say in the future how much you could bet and where? It’s conceivable we may have to re-define those “games of chance” and “skill” definitions. Hopefully by then our Treasury would have located $700 billion dollars to save us all and this wouldn’t be an issue on any agenda.
What is a Reality
If this is a harmless endeavor and no one gets hurt, why are numerous lawsuits pending both ways between websites supporting material for fantasy sports and the NFL Players Association? Each side believes they deserve a chunk of the sizable revenue produced. Not to change issues but no lawsuits are pending against Las Vegas casinos who legally conduct sports wagering by any players association or union. It’s quite confusing but presumably having the tax man and tourist income in your huddle makes for an entirely different kickoff.
Whether your game is online sports wagering, poker or fantasy sports there is a disciplined limitation of your time that must be adhered to in respect to your work and your budget. Any argument of what is a game of chance or skill can never be judged objectively no more than a thousand years debating golf is a sport, a game or perhaps both. Furthermore, let’s stop kidding ourselves and realize this new language within the law was instituted to promote a lobbied product for the NFL, NBA, MLB, etc. producing immense revenue and consumer interest. With nothing sensibly wrong with that premise, it is insane to have financial institutions waste time judging coded semantics and paid-off guns argue legality and morality when the bottom line is their own bottom line.
Oh, and did I tell you, I WON MY LAST FIVE FANTASY LEAGUE TOURNAMENTS!! Willing to share my amazing skills with you this season for only $50!! Just a dream I had. Sometimes a fantasy is all you need….