In the past few weeks, the DFS industry has endured heavy scrutiny by lawmakers, regulators and mainstream media outlets. In the hysteria, some news publications have stoked the flames by making exaggerated or downright false claims which could give the public a negative impression of the industry.
But daily fantasy players and operators have now started to push back. On Sunday, RotoGrinders founder Cal Spears posted a link to a FanDuel petition which aims to send lawmakers a message that DFS is indeed a test of knowledge, and is something that millions of Americans enjoy.
“Lawmakers in Washington D.C., Nevada, and elsewhere have questioned our right to exist,” reads the FanDuel page. “Knowingly or not, they have misrepresented who we are and what we do. Now, we need you to stand with us to show that millions of fans believe fantasy sports should remain legal and accessible to all who love the game.”
A portion of the petition reads as follows:
“Every year 50 million Americans play online fantasy sports. I am one of them. There are many problems facing our nation, but passionate sports fans that want to connect with our favorite players and teams is hardly one of them.
Fantasy sports is fundamentally a test of knowledge. I play because I love the competition and the camaraderie. In fact, I think fantasy sports is what makes watching sports an American pastime.”
Along with the petition, RotoGrinders podcast host Dan Back has created a thread on that website’s forum which DFS proponents can use to contact their state legislators.
“DFS is not only under the microscope, but also the existence of the game is being threatened by many politicians and special interests across a number of states,” he said. “I think most agree this is a very pivotal time for the future of the industry and I think now is the time we as players let our voice be heard by those people who will be making some of those decisions.”
Readers have also replied to the thread with form letters of their own. “ajl201” urged Pennsylvania legislators to not ring fence, or restrict, DFS contests to only those inside the state. “From my understanding, [proposed] legislation would limit daily fantasy sports games to our state’s casino-run websites,” he said. “That will not work, much like online poker in New Jersey does not work. There simply aren’t enough players in our state to sustain the game.”
Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey are the only three states which have legalized online poker thus far; California and Pennsylvania are looking to do the same. But for the moment, iPoker players and operators are hampered by the fact that only users inside the state can play against each other, limiting the player pool significantly.
A critical moment
This is a critical moment for daily fantasy, and if players don’t make their voice heard, DFS opponents will be free to control the narrative. Nevada recently declared DFS to be gambling and has ordered industry operators to cease operations until they obtain a gambling license. It’s unclear if other states will follow this model or clarify legislation to explicitly legalize DFS.
In the meantime, Spears and Back are hoping to build momentum and show legislators that daily fantasy is indeed a skill game, and one which millions of people play responsibly.
“DFS has many battles ahead. More scrutiny and regulation are welcome,” said Spears. “What we don’t want is prohibition. The more we can show our support and have our voices heard the better off we’ll be.”