by Brandon Busuttil
For the past 2 years Daily Fantasy Sports has risen through the ranks and is now one of the most exciting ways for people to play fantasy sports. Out of all the people that do play these daily fantasy sports leagues, heavy restrictions have been put on NCAA athletes. In the United States, all but 5 states consider daily fantasy sports leagues to be legal and games of skill rather than games of luck.
Therefore the start of the debate was, if sites such as Fanduel and Draft Kings are considered games of skill rather than games of luck, it is not technically considered to be gambling. Overall, participation by athletes in DFS leagues was allowed.
It was reported that since the year 2004 NCAA athletes have been taking part in DFS leagues and the percentage of NCAA athletes putting money forth and receiving money awards for winning leagues has increased throughout each year.
It is at the point now that not just professional sports are involved, but so are college sports. College football and college basketball DFS leagues are played daily by individuals. Although the use of likenesses is another topic up for debate, athletes are getting in trouble for the use of DFS leagues.
Scott Stricklin, the Athletic Director at Mississippi State made it clear on September 22, 2015 that he was going to reiterate Oliver Luck’s words (NCAA Vice-President) that any college athlete gambling on sports (including DFS such as Fanduel and Draft Kings) will be subject to losing one year of eligibility. This was the beginning of the issue of DFS leagues.
This instance has had a large rippling affect on many aspects of the sporting world. To start, both the SEC Network and PAC-12 Network will no longer air any ads that have to do with Fanduel or Draft Kings, to show they do not support the use of DFS for college athletes. This was a huge decision because both networks lost some of its funding, as both Fanduel and Draft Kings were paying the networks a lot of money for advertising time.
ESPN is the largest network provider of college sports in America. Shortly after Scott Stricklin and Oliver Luck made sure NCAA athletes knew how serious it was to not gamble on any NCAA sanctioned sport, ESPN decided to disband their “cover alert” feature. The “cover alert” feature ESPN had on their apps and sites gave users an update on the broadcast that gives those who are betting a heads up on the score of a game in relation to its point spread. Disabling this feature for users shows that ESPN is trying to do their job by doing what they can to keep athletes safe by trying to keep them away from being tempted to bet. Although it is just a small move by ESPN, it is a move that in a way shows they care.
Overall, should NCAA athletes be allowed to play DFS such as Fanduel and Draft Kings? That is something that is up for a debate, and one that I am pretty sure would be a very long debate. Is it a game of skill or a game of luck? Again another debate that could take a long while to decide. For now the rule is stated that NCAA athletes cannot participate in DFS. However, with such a blurred line of what DFS is really considered, look for NCAA gambling rules to be clarified for athletes as time goes on and in the near future. More than likely the new rules will look to put even greater restrictions on NCAA athletes, as this seems to be a trend for the NCAA.
I think this whole debate of sports betting and Daily Fantasy Sports is so complicated. DFS is being restricted in New York, while New Jersey might actually win its fight against the sports leagues to offer gambling on the outcome of games in Atlantic City casinos: http://www.sbgglobal.eu/sports-betting/third-circuit-decide-casino-sports-betting-new-jersey
Predicting the future is always going to involve some luck, but also some ability to spot trends and find the most advantageous situations. It’s not much different between betting on individual player performances or team outcomes. But one is supported by the major leagues and allowed in most states, where the other one has been regulated out of existence at the federal level, other than in Las Vegas.
The fact that ESPN even had a “cover alert” is a sign of the times and the direction the national discussion of DFS and gambling overall is headed.