With Super Bowl 50, March Madness, and the NHL post-season all coming up in quick succession, sports fans everywhere will be preparing for fantasy draft picks on various online platforms.
The estimated amount of fantasy players worldwide — according to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association website — reached an all-time high of 56.8 million in 2015. This popularity can be attributed to the success of Daily Fantasy Sport (DFS), wherein participants enter their roster into a competition hosted by specific websites like DraftKings and FanDuel.
Some of the most popular daily fantasy websites, including DraftKings and FanDuel, are both valued well over $1 billion. These sites can see participants win millions off of their sports knowledge.
Both sites profit substantially through heavy marketing campaigns over football’s off-season, which emphasizes the possibility of making massive amounts of money over a single night. Advertisements with slogans like “ Win $100,000 Free” imply that a single night of fortuitous play can result in a tremendous amount of money.
Despite their annual rise in popularity the fantasy sports industry hit a major roadblock last year. DFS has recently been accused of being a gambling network. The argument posits that since daily fantasy sites like FanDuel and DraftKings depend on a single night of player performance, participants are wagering on the results of a game. Defenders of DFS argue that it is skill-based, and successful DFS players require discipline and money management ability.
Warren Kosoy, a writer for RotoGrinders and co-founder of dailypucktalk.com, believes that daily fantasy sport is a skill, rather than a luck-based game. “I do it because it is fun, skill-based and a great way to make money and make my sports knowledge valuable to my life,” Kosoy says. “The skill is in the money management and knowing which games to join.”
Following the November 10 ban of DFS in New York State last year, the Canadian Gaming Association (CGA) announced that it had decided that DFS is illegal under the Criminal Code of Canada. The CGA commissioned attorney Don Bourgeois to investigate the legality of DFS under the Code, who interpreted it to mean that in games of mixed skill and chance, the latter trumps the former and falls under the umbrella of chance games. As a result, it is considered gambling.
Bourgeois’ interpretation may have come too late. In Canada, many major investors have sunk millions into DraftKings and FanDuel. Counted among DraftKing’s investors are the NHL, MLS, and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd. — Canada’s largest private sports company and owners of the Toronto Raptors and the Maple Leafs. In July, DraftKings announced a new round of funding worth $300 million.
This begs the question: have DFS become too big to fail? Without rapid intervention the multitude of seven figure investments might allow DFS sites to survive. With DFS sites having their hooks so deep into major Canadian industries’, it would be tough to pass and enforce legislation prohibiting DFS. This seems to leave only one question: does one go with Wilson or Brady?