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Massachusetts Looks Into Government Options With Daily Fantasy Sports

ESPN_FantasyFootball_Logo_1This week, Boston is considering the development of a state-run daily fantasy sports game regulation. According to Lottery Executive Michael Sweeney, the daily fantasy sports industry is a big problem for the city lottery, as it appeals more to younger people who can easily participate in it through their computers and phones. Currently, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission has asked for a white paper on the daily fantasy sports to better grasp the situation.

Many are against this imposition of the state into the daily fantasy sports industry. For daily sports companies such as DraftKings and FanDuel, this is not as much of a problem. It will help them with their claims of being as legitimate as online gambling in the long run, which would help them a great deal. However, Stop Predatory Gambling, a Washington D.C. nonprofit whose goal is to end all government-sponsored gambling, is adamantly against any bill being passed.

Les Bernal, the national director of Stop Predatory Gambling, believes that “By almost any measure, government’s regulation of gambling has been a spectacular failure and has contributed to rising unfairness and inequality in American life.” And “only the uninformed and the willfully ignorant would suggest that government will promote Internet gambling in a different, more ethical manner than its track record with lotteries and regional casinos demonstrates.”

Bernal thinks that daily fantasy sports are targeting younger people in hopes of raising a generation of gamblers that they could turn into a lucrative market in the future. So while both he and the state of Massachusetts see that the market is moving to online daily fantasy sports, each wants to do a different thing about it. Massachusetts is worried about losing its large revenue from state-sponsored gambling operations such as the lottery, whereas Bernal is worried about the people affected by problem gambling.

Even Bernal himself said “Where the money is in gambling going forward, it’s in getting it on the Internet, opening a casino and lottery retailer in every bedroom, dorm room and smartphone in a community. Younger people aren’t going to brick and mortar casinos; they’re not buying $30 scratch tickets like they sell in Massachusetts. The future of predatory gambling in America lies in turning a whole new generation of young people into habitual gamblers.” This is the exact same thing that Massachusetts sees, just with a darker twist to it.

On the flipside, Lottery Executive Director Michael Sweeny thinks that the government can and should become a part of the daily fantasy sports industry. He has said that a daily fantasy sports offering, “would help us to engage what we would refer to as a ‘next-generation’ player and hopefully it would also help Lottery to create a new revenue source as opposed to eroding or maintaining existing offers.” This overall would strengthen the state’s revenue, which down the road would provide it with the foothold and the funds to safely regulate the daily fantasy sports players. This would give the state a chance to provide programs to help daily fantasy sports players.

Currently, there are 56.8 million people playing daily fantasy sports between America and Canada this year, with an average of 25% of these being teenagers. This is a huge amount of people that are already getting comfortable participating in what essentially is online gambling. Even if state and federal governments decide to ignore these people and not become involved in an effort to “protect them,” is that truly the best way to deal with the situation?

Massachusetts for one does not think so. If things go well for the state in its attempt to begin taxing and regulating daily fantasy sports, it could set a good precedent for more states to follow. In the end, this would help daily fantasy sports to become a more regulated industry, as is poker and other online gambling options.



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