BY EVAN TEICH
SPORTS COPY EDITOR
Football has become more than a sport to just watch these days. While people still sit around the table with food and binge watch games all day on Sundays, they are not just watching to cheer on their favorite team. They are intrigued by the risk and sometimes reward that comes with the betting aspect of football. The exchange of money is ubiquitous, especially with the recent creations of one-week fantasy leagues through Fanduel and DraftKings, the driving forces in a multi-billion dollar industry.
These online one week “duels” are becoming increasingly popular among the younger population. Although the age restriction requires users to be of at least 18 years of age, I don’t think it is effective. Underage users are common because there is no way to police the age of an online gambler. Betting in a casino, for example, is monitored by the process of checking and scanning IDs, but with these sites all users have to do is get a hold of mom or dads credit card information, tie it to their account, and agree to a consent saying they are at least 18 years old. As a matter of fact, I see 8-year-olds walking around with their iPhones drafting their teams and setting weekly lineups. Do they realize what they are doing? The answer is no. I don’t think that today’s generation of kids understand the seriousness and danger of gambling, and these sites are only worsening that problem.
Besides easy access from underage users, there is a major cause for concern regarding scandals, unfair advantages, and the close tie between these sites and the National Football League. Recently, a DraftKings employee, who had private DraftKings data, won $350,000 in a FanDuel matchup. It is a major issue if people have inside information on how to ultimately win match-ups on the site which leads to them winning money. These sites can also lead to potential bribing of professionals in order to change outcomes for average people.
Most online gambling is illegal, so the real question is: why are these one-week fantasy leagues legal? Well, these sites aren’t definitively described as Internet gambling. Professional leagues are in favor of these sites because it helps to gain more viewers and a larger “fan base.” Furthermore, big networks are investing in these sites because their stations will get more attention. It is a win-win for the corporation side of things, but a total loss for the culture of sports.
Sports used to be about cheering for the hometown team, or staying committed as a “die hard” fan, but that has all changed. Now, people root for the quarterback on one team and the wide receiver on another team. True fans are gone. Standard fantasy leagues, such as ESPN were the start of this, but the sudden popularity of one-week fantasy leagues has taken it to a whole new level. As a result, more than 56 million people in North America will play fantasy sports this year, up from 12 million in 2005. These sites must be banned.