Fantasy Sports Ads: Big Money Advertising for a Big Money Industry, But Is It Gambling?

LBN’s Emily Collins reports further on the sudden boom in fantasy sports (see LBN’s previous report on fantasy sports). If you are a football fan and have been watching games on television, you have seen ad after ad for fantasy sports. The two biggest players in this hot, new field, FanDuel and DraftKings, spent nearly $27 million on more than 8,000 commercials in the opening week of the NFL. Fantasy sports is a multi-billion dollar industry, and it is changing the sports landscape.

The companies have opened the door to a new sports world. Over 57 million U.S. and Canadian citizens are participating in the betting. The fantasy sports companies are making money, and they have attracted a flock of investors. ESPN, Comcast, NBC, Fox Sports, the NBA, Google Capital, Time-Warner, and Turner Sports all have money in the big fantasy sports companies. In addition, several NFL sports teams such as the New England Patriots, Dallas Cowboys, Jacksonville Jaguars and a few dozen others have mutually benefited with DraftKings and FanDuel.

The sudden success the companies have enjoyed has also brought questions and concerns over the legality of the enterprises and their operations. The NFL and the American Gaming Association are watching unfolding events to see how things turn out. New Jersey Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. has called for a congressional investigation of fantasy sports. There are some who view fantasy sports simply as gambling, so betting through the sites is not legal in New Jersey or Washington. Fantasy sports are protected under a loophole in the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006.

But the fantasy sports business is pushing back. Peter Schoenke, Chairman of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, has said that "These are skill-based games that match sports fans against each other in a contest of sports knowledge and strategy that is fundamentally different from wagering on the performance of an individual player or the outcome of a particular game."

The struggle for sports gambling dollars will continue.

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