Legal Battle Threatens to Strike Out DraftKings

Photo courtesy of Draft Kings

Popular online sports gambling site DraftKings is suspending paid contests in New York, the latest occurrence in the company’s ongoing legal battle with the U.S. government. DraftKings allows its users to enter daily and weekly sports fantasy contests and win money based on different player and team performances in all of the major leagues, including the MLB, NBA and the NFL.

Starting in late 2015, DraftKings went under investigation by state and federal authorities regarding the business practices of the company. This initial investigation prompted the FBI to become involved.

Some students are disappointed with DraftKings’ contest suspension.

“I make fantasy teams now for professional football and professional baseball. Why should I be restricted for something that I enjoy doing in my spare time?” said Bridgette Buckalew, a freshman.

The major controversy with DraftKings and other fantasy sports companies centers upon the question of whether or not their games constitute gambling. In most states in the U.S., fantasy sports are viewed as a game of skill and not gambling. But other states, like Arizona, Montana, Louisiana, Iowa and Washington, have laws against paid fantasy sports.

On Oct. 6, 2015, the New York attorney general began investigating fantasy sports sites FanDuel and DraftKings about whether or not the companies were using “inside information” in order to earn large amounts of money. Both companies released a joint statement once the controversy started to unfold.

“Both companies have strong policies in place to ensure that employees do not misuse any information at their disposal and strictly limit access to company data to only those employees who require it to do their jobs,” the statement said. “Employees with access to this data are rigorously monitored by internal fraud control teams, and we have no evidence that anyone has misused it.”

In 2015, the U.S. banned the use of fantasy sports with major sport leagues. On Oct. 20, 2015, the NCAA wrote a letter to FanDuel and DraftKings announcing that both companies would be banned from advertising at NCAA championship events, including the television broadcasts of these events. Senior Alyson Oostdyk agrees with the decision made by the NCAA to ban the advertising of the companies.

“I don’t feel like student athletes should be allowed to use these gambling sites because it has the potential to lead players to bet on themselves or even throw games. The integrity of the game comes into question not to mention the other negative aspects of gambling like addiction. I just don’t think that young players could responsibly handle it,” Oostdyk said.

Kelly McNulty, member of Ramapo's women’s basketball team, also agrees with the NCAA and their decision regarding fantasy sports.

“I don’t think NCAA athletes should be allowed to use fantasy sports sites to win money because gambling is a bad habit and student athletes are supposed to be good role models to younger generations,” she said.

The legal saga of the fantasy sports world still continues and has not yet been fully resolved.