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Game of Skill or Chance?

The children’s classic, the Tortoise and the Hare : Robert Ambrose Instructor Gaming & Hospitality Center for Hospitality & Sport Management Drexel University

In the Daily Fantasy Sports model, the Hare had a statistical advantage; even if he didn’t win the race. We are in a defining moment where regulation, gambling and the current technologies, are locked in not only a semantic debate but a regulatory one as well.

The recent headlines in the news have raised questions about the operational model of Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS.) The controversy, based on some employees’ alleged use of proprietary information to wager, has made DraftKings and FanDuel the poster children for regulation.

Once Nevada shut them down, requesting they become part of the “gaming” regulated environment; the dominos fell as several states in the US began the debate for regulations. In recent weeks, policy makers in MA, NY, PA, NJ and other states have not only voiced concern about the unregulated business model but also have suggested ways to regulate it. It is no secret too that the federal and state governments may be missing out on fees and taxable wins in an industry generating a huge revenue stream.

Looking at the history of gaming regulations I have to take note of the Wire Act of 1961.This legislation certainly reflects the technology of the day and it still is part of the discussion decades later! (Restoration of America’s Wire Act HR 707.) The 2006 I- gaming bill passed by congress exempted DFS from regulations yet it continues to be a discussion point.

It’s about defining what the DFS model is again and appropriately regulating it. If we are 50+ years away from the installation of the 1961 Wire Act and still debating it; you had better sit down for the DFS debate.The rhetoric will settle and there will be debate and legislative “give and take” in the US for some time. The most important part of the DFS topic for now is that it is being discussed.

Getting back to that Aesop’s fable of the tortoise and the hare. I guess the moral of the story is never underestimate the outcome even if you have the statistics? Hmmm. Sounds like a game of chance to me? And when you bet on it, some may even call it gambling!

Bob Ambrose, Instructor Gaming & Hospitality
Center for Hospitality & Sport Management Drexel University
The Dennis Gomes Memorial Casino Training Lab
Twitter @bobambrose