Support For DFS Congressional Hearing Far From Unaimous
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Is More Daily Fantasy Sports Scrutiny Needed? Editorials Are Mixed

DFS Editorials
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An onslaught of television ads from FanDuel and DraftKings has helped bring attention of daily fantasy sports to the mainstream media.

And on the heels of the commercial blitz came a request by Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ), the ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, for a hearing on daily fantasy sports.

Those two events have caused the editorial boards of several publications to consider the current state of DFS, and to address the question of whether the industry needs more scrutiny.

The reaction so far has been mixed. (The stories surveyed below were only written by editorial boards, and do not include columns from individual writers).

Editorials calling for a closer look at DFS

Few, if any, editorial boards seem to be interested in an outright ban of daily fantasy sports. But some, like the board for the Asbury Park Press and the affiliated Gannett Inc. newspapers in New Jersey, support Pallone’s effort to get daily fantasy sports and sports betting on equal legal footing.

Pallone doesn’t say it, exactly, but it’s a good bet the congressman is angling not for a crackdown on fantasy sports, but for an acknowledgment of the exceedingly thin line between that form of gambling and sports betting that might ease some of the resistance to New Jersey’s legalization attempts. That, in turn, could help open the door to the state eventually overcoming the federal ban that continues to stymie officials. We support Pallone’s effort.

This feeling has trickled into some of the states like Iowa and Massachusetts, where the legality of daily fantasy sports has been a hot topic. DFS sites generally do not operate in Iowa, while Massachusetts attorney general Maura Healey is conducting a “review” of DraftKings and DFS.

The Quad-City Times, with a coverage area that ecompasses parts of Iowa and Illinois, writes that Pallone’s request should spur action in the Iowa state legislature.

These developments suggest a time, coming soon, when destination casinos will need much more than a gambling thrill to draw customers. With wagering as close as a TV, iPad or mobile phone, the next Rhythm City, land-based Isle of Capri and Jumer’s Rock Island Casino will need to do and spend more to draw new customers to their old-school casinos.

And state legislators counting on gambling taxes to fill budget holes will watch as gamblers and their taxes take flight to options untouched by state law and taxation.

The Berkshire Eagle in Massachusetts echoes this sentiment, writing that daily fantasy sports is gambling and is merely exploiting a loophole in the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.

Most forms of online gambling are illegal, but the fantasy sports entrepreneurs are able to exploit an exemption in federal law for competitions that “reflect the relative knowledge and skill of the participants.” It is doubtful that daily fantasy competition constitutes a game of skill for most who engage in it, and this loophole should be looked into by the committee Representative Pallone seeks.

And some, such as The Lakeland Ledger in Florida, are calling for better clarity from either Congress or their home states.

Sports lovers should not risk arrest for harmless, if albeit nerve-racking and sweat-inducing, fun.

Some are against government getting involved in DFS

Not every editorial board and columnist that has taken on Pallone’s proposed hearing is backing the New Jersey congressman, though. Far from.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal and New York Post argued against Pallone’s proposal. Their take? The Review-Journal writes that Congress should turn its eyes to more worthwhile endeavors.

With crushing federal debt, low labor-force participation, a broken immigration system and no shortage of foreign crises, you’d think Rep. Pallone and the rest of Congress would have more important things to tackle than fantasy football. Leave our fantasy football leagues alone.

The New York Post pulls even fewer punches in its argument against a Congressional hearing.

Pallone’s been in Congress 27 years; it’s looking like time he got out — and back in touch with what’s been going on all across America for decades now.

The Pittsburgh News-Tribune writes that any government scrutiny only works to highlight the sometimes incomprehensible mish-mash of gambling laws and regulations.

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.

Photo by Jon S used under license CC BY 2.0

Zack Hall
- Zack Hall has been covering sports and business for more than 16 years as both a reporter and editor. He has won numerous awards with stops that include the Reno Gazette-Journal and the Bend Bulletin.
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