Fantasy hypocrisy: What’s the problem? |

Fantasy hypocrisy: What’s the problem?

Greater federal and state scrutiny of increasingly popular daily fantasy sports websites just makes the gambling hypocrisy of governments and major professional leagues more apparent.

A 2006 federal law banning most online gambling exempted fantasy sports as games of skill, not chance. Yet U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., wants a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on daily fantasy sports. He questions how they differ from betting on the outcomes of games, implicitly questioning daily fantasy’s “skill” component, which is as genuine as poker’s.

It’s telling that Massachusetts’ attorney general is looking into Boston’s DraftKings and that lawmakers in several cash-strapped states are eyeing it and New York’s FanDuel as revenue sources. Perhaps that’s Mr. Pallone’s real agenda: ensuring that government, which blesses state lotteries and licensed casinos, gets a cut from the multibillion-dollar daily fantasy industry, too.

Meanwhile, the ostensibly gambling-averse NFL and Major League Baseball happily accept millions of dollars of advertising from fantasy sites. Pittsburgh’s Steelers and Pirates are among them.

Add the harmlessness of playing fantasy sports daily, weekly or season-long, online or not, and it seems that government is in search of a problem that doesn’t exist.

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