Can’t Harry Reid just retire and quit mucking things up. He embodies the quintessential definition of a politician – “what’s in it for me?” Depending on what day of the week it is, Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev), is either for legalized online gambling or against it. In his latest rant, Harry Reid attacks daily fantasy sports as “unregulated, illegal gambling” and depending upon fantasy sports sites to self-regulate their industry is total nonsense.
Of course, Harry Reid was referring primarily to DraftKings and FanDuel, the two largest, most successful websites in the daily fantasy sports industry. And in particular, he was commenting on an open letter from FanDuel CEO Nigle Eccles that was addressed to FanDuel’s players and was posted on the website.
In the letter, Eccles said that the industry needed “strong, common sense, enforceable” regulations to protect consumers. He referred to sensible state regulation that’s already in place but didn’t name the state. Legislation such as third-party audits, age and location verification and safeguards against insider company information being used in contests are excellent examples of how the industry can police itself. Eccles went on to say “these are steps I have always advocated for — and now is the time to memorialize them in law for FanDuel and the entire industry.” The letter also noted that “some lawmakers are seeking to prohibit your right to play fantasy sports as you know it.” While Nevada wasn’t named specifically in the letter, gambling regulators recently decided to require fantasy sports sites to be licensed the same as a casino or sports book. Those sites without a license would not be allowed to operate in Nevada.
The controversy surrounding daily fantasy sports is over whether or not this is gambling. The industry points to an exemption for fantasy sports in the federal law (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act) that banned online gambling in 2006. Proponents say that even though money is involved, it can’t be considered as gambling because there is a component of skill that is required when putting together a sports team.
Harry Reid agrees with Eccles that insider betting, age and geo location are bonafide aspects that need to be in place to ensure public safety, but that the state needs to be the one to enforce it, not individual companies. And the only way for the state to enforce it, is to charge huge licensing fees. In other words, Reid feels that if the state can’t get a piece of the action from an online gaming site, then it should be banned. In his statement, Reid said “without strong oversight, there is nothing stopping these terrible things from happening and we will continue to see more corruption from this unregulated, illegal gambling.” In referring to online fantasy sports as “what is essentially gambling by another name”, Reid is urging state and federal authorities to regulate the industry.