The Attorney General of New York, Eric Schneiderman has come out strong against DraftKings and FanDuel, two operators of internet-based daily fantasy sports (DFS) games. In a letter to Nigel Eccles, CEO of FanDuel, the NYS AG called out the company for running an illegal gambling enterprise – “gambling” defined as when a person “stakes or risks something of value upon the outcome of a contest of chance or a future contingent event not under his control or influence.” Damn, that sounds like it should include the buying and selling of stock options and commodity futures – an industry that practically props up New York State.
Without a hint of irony, the letter continues by claiming FanDuel’s contests are not victimless because “daily fantasy sports create the same public health and economic concerns as other forms of gambling, like addiction.” This from a state that runs daily lotteries, peddles scratch-off games to fixed-income seniors, produces non-stop Keno games every five minutes, participates in nationwide Powerball and Mega Millions games, operates several racetracks, and greenlighted a bunch of new casinos. Perhaps the most galling part of the letter chastises FanDuel for representing the game as an easy path to riches, taking them to task for running ads that say, “anyone can play, anyone can succeed.” Is this any more egregious than NYS hawking lottery tickets with slogans like “All you need is a dollar and a dream”?
Oddly, the AG tries to draw a serious distinction between daily fantasy sports and traditional fantasy sports, holding up the latter as a totally acceptable form of entertainment because the participants compete over a long season and play for “bragging rights.” That seems to me like a distinction without a difference. I suspect “traditional” fantasy sports get a pass from the AG because New York can’t figure a way to tax the shit out of it, so the State must default to a position of benign neglect.
The New York Times published an anti-DFS editorial this week that accidentally made a case against themselves. First, the Times says “fantasy sports games are forms of gambling, not games of skill,” then they note a few sentences later that “the top 1 percent of DraftKings’ winning bettors receive the vast majority of the winnings.” If DFS is truly a game of chance and not skill, why aren’t the winnings spread more evenly across all players, like payouts from slot machines?
The real story is that New York State is irritated that it was caught flat-footed and hadn’t anticipated the success of DFS providers, thus delaying the State’s infiltration of the industry to take a big cut of their revenues. That will happen soon enough, though, and all will be forgiven. Let’s face it, internet-based fantasy gaming – like the oft-vilified Uber, Lyft, and AirBnB – is here to stay. Fans like it; hell, the National Football League and the NFL Players Association are in bed with DraftKings and FanDuel. And in July it was reported that DraftKings raised $300 million in funding, much of that from Fox Sports.
No, too much is at stake to allow these companies to disappear. Besides, New York State doesn’t want DraftKings, FanDuel and their ilk to go away. Like an organized crime syndicate, the State just wants the companies to get a license, agree to some regulation, and start disgorging money. Will it all work out in the end?
Well, as New York State is wont to remind viewers every day: “Hey, You Never Know.”
RIP Carol Doda
Immortalized in Tom Wolfe’s novel, “The Pump House Gang,” Carol Doda was perhaps the first superstar topless dancer who paved the way starting in 1964 for innumerable buxom acolytes who through their mastery of tittie-tassel-twirling and thigh-gripping-pole-vaulting animated the low-slung, windowless strip clubs of rural and exurban America into must-go havens for randy college freshmen, doomed grooms, and repressed masturbatory perverts.
Ms. Doda, who sported a silly-putty-injected 44DD bosom which was said to have been insured for $1.5 million, died the other day at 78.
The way Wolfe told it, Carol Doda was dancing topless at the Condor Club in San Francisco at the same time the Republican National Convention was going on; Conservative Republican delegates barnstorming for Barry Goldwater in the afternoon couldn’t wait to hightail it to the Condor Club in North Beach in the evening to watch those 44DD’s heave and sway. No way could the Red Menace compete with that.