Report: Fantasy Sports Might Be Added To Gamblers Anonymous Warnings

Posted on August 27, 2015 - Last Updated on November 9, 2015

Fantasy sports may be added to a list of problematic activities by Gamblers Anonymous, according to a media report on Thursday.

Fantasy sports = gambling to GA?

The report from News-4 in Washington, D.C. said that GA is considering adding the phrase “fantasy sports” to a section of its Gamblers Anonymous Combo Book. From the report:

The News-4 I-Team has learned that international representatives of the problem gambling organization will vote in October on whether to include new guidance to members against playing fantasy sports.

The proposed revisions would add the phrase “fantasy sports” to page 14 of the Combo Book, where the organization lists a series of activities compulsive gamblers are advised to avoid.

The book is important in the Gamblers Anonymous world, as it is used in GA meetings.

Fantasy Sports Trade Association chairman Peter Schoenke talked to NBC 4 for the report, saying “Fantasy sports don’t have the same negative flaws that traditional gambling products have.”

What exactly would change?

The passage that would be altered — in which “fantasy sports” would be added to the discouraged activities, reads like this:

Does this mean I can’t even participate in a little penny ante game or a world series pool?

It means exactly that. A stand has to be made somewhere, and Gamblers Anonymous members have found the first bet is the one to avoid, even though it may be as little as matching for a cup of coffee. This includes Internet gambling, bingo, the stock market, commodities, options, buying or playing lottery tickets, raffle tickets, flipping a coin or entering the office sport pool.

Of course, a lot of the things listed above are generally legal to do or are state-controlled. The difference for the daily fantasy sports industry? It is increasingly fighting the perception that it is a gambling activity, and getting added to the GA handbook obviously would hurt that perception.

The FSTA has a section of its website dedicated to differentiating DFS as a skill game that is not akin to gambling.

Not a good day in D.C.

The nation’s capital was hot on fantasy sports on Thursday, as the Washington Post website featured a story headlined: ‘Watch games in our daily-fantasy gambling lounges,’ say leagues that oppose sports gambling.

The story points out the perceived hypocrisy of professional sports leagues having relationships with DFS sites, but joining forces to stop a sports betting law from taking effect in New Jersey:

In case you aren’t a male between the ages of 18 and 49, daily fantasy sports consists of contests in which people fill out a lineup of players they think will have big games that day. Owners of top-scoring teams win cash from sites such as DraftKings.

In other words, you are gambling on sports.

But it’s not considered “sports gambling.”

All in all, it was not a good day on the “DFS isn’t gambling” front for the industry. And waging that battle appears to be a losing proposition. 

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Dustin Gouker

Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer -- including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner.

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