Fantasies can’t be illegal
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One of the most fun things that comes with watching sports is also one of the most dangerous.
It’s not alcohol, it’s betting. But not the kind of betting your grandfather used to do.
Betting has arrived in the 21st century in the form of fantasy sports; all of the four major sports in the U.S now have online games that go with them that users can play and throw wagers into for prizes.
It may sound fun, but it’s not to the Tennessee Attorney General, who released an opinion earlier this month saying that fantasy sports constitute illegal gambling under state law.
Tennessee isn’t the first state to argue the point either; the New York and Alabama state attorney Generals are some of the others that have come out with similar statements.
The difference with Tennessee, however, is that they have put all forms of fantasy sports under this ruling, not just daily fantasy sports (DFS).
DFS games are different from your typical fantasy leagues where competition lasts for the entirety of the season, they have the same premise but the competition lasts only one night; players place a bet into one large public pot where the winner(s) take all at the end of the night’s competition.
As of April 19, the Tennessee legislature has chosen to regulate the industry and impose a gambling tax for the games in the form of a bill sent to Gov. Bill Haslam.
Tennessee has the right idea; DFS games employ the same skills and chance of casino games, and should be treated as such, rather than banned completely.
The issue is being debated on a state-to-state basis which is okay, but the one constant should be that all fantasy sports games are legal, even if they are defined as gambling.
DFS games have been defined as gambling by some states, but they must also classify them separately from traditional season-long games, that are free to play and enjoyed for fun by players like myself.
I played in five different fantasy leagues last fall, and while some had money on the line, they were all low risk and served as friendly wagers between friends.
Legislators are right in pursuing regulations for DFS games, and while certain states may not like the idea of these games, they shouldn’t ban them because many players (especially season-long players) are just trying to have fun.