One of the few good-news stories I have to follow – along with the growth and cementing of gay rights around the country – is the legal offensive against FanDuel and DraftKing, the fantasy sports sites that bombard every sports event with ads that are equally boring and deceptive. There is no question, and the legal inquiries have so established, that almost everyone loses money in these ventures; and the incessant “John Smith has won $100,000” claims may be true for John Smith, but if you think you are the next winner, you are the next sucker.
The fantasy that gets me is the claim that these wagers are not gambling, because they involve an element of skill – or so Congress, in its usual lack of wisdom, decreed. By contrast, betting on the outcome of a game is gambling and is illegal, except in Nevada. There is far more “skill” in guessing which team will win a game than in guessing how many touchdowns a particular individual will score on a given day, yet the former is verboten while the latter is permitted.
I will never bet on a fantasy game, so why should I care? As mentioned, there are those ads, which have none of the wit of Geico spots. Now, the rage is spreading to on-air shows: instead of finding the Sports Reporters on ESPN2 on Sunday, I find a whole half-hour of fantasy tips, and this approach to sports is creeping into SI, as well. Concentrating on individual performances in a team game is a distortion of sport. So, go get ’em, attorneys general!