For Americans who love online poker, one of the greatest hypocrisies in existence right now is daily fantasy sports (DFS). It’s unclear whether or not DFS is truly legal, but there’s no denying that it is “allowed” in 45 of 50 U.S. states. So why is it then that daily fantasy sports is considered acceptable while internet poker is largely a black-market affair?
Well for starters, we can look towards the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006, which makes it illegal for banks to accept financial transactions involving iPoker, online casino games and sports betting. This of course didn’t render online poker illegal; it just made it impossible for sites to legally take deposits from American players. But interestingly enough, fantasy sports got a carve-out in the UIGEA.
This carve-out was originally meant for season-long leagues played on sites like CBS and Yahoo. After all, the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL knew back then that they’d better protect fantasy sports because they generate so much casual fan interest. But now that fantasy sports have evolved into the daily version, where you can bet thousands of dollars on a daily basis, it’s obvious that the situation has changed greatly.
Many poker players (and the general public) have questioned why DFS is essentially considered legal today. And the truth may lie in the fact that DFS isn’t really legal, but rather tolerated until each state decides to examine the matter independently.
It may be some time before we truly find out where the legal boundaries lie regarding DFS. The NFL especially is lobbying hard to keep things as they are because of the aforementioned fan interest that fantasy sports create. But with ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt questioning DFS, New Jersey Congressman Frank Pallone asking for a hearing on the subject, and countless articles about the legitimacy of DFS, it’s only a matter of time before these games are really put to the legal test.