Lawmakers call for crackdown on fantasy football betting
Jersey U.S. Senator Bob Menendez and Congressman Frank Pallone are calling on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate fantasy football betting websites like FanDuel and Draft Kings, and enact tough new regulations to ensure they’re playing by the rules.
Standing in the shadows of MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, Menendez said as Americans we go through daily life expecting certain reasonable things are going to be taken care of and our expectation is we will be treated fairly, but that hasn’t been the case with fantasy football betting websites.
Several days ago, The New York Times reported on allegations fantasy sports site employees were placing bets using information not generally available to the public.
“That looks like a lot of insider trading to me,” Menendez said “Using inside information in order to game the system is cheating, plain and simple.”
He went on to say fans who are betting on these fantasy football websites deserve some answers about how they’re being run and regulated or not regulated, since we don’t really know what’s going on behind the scenes and in the back offices.
“It’s like an employee of one corporation using inside non-public information about his corporation with another financial institution,” the senator said. “We know that is absolutely illegal."
Menendez is also pushing for congressional hearings on the situation.
Congressman Frank Pallone said if a consumer goes to the track and makes a bet, it’s highly regulated, but on these fantasy football sites that is not the case.
“This is unregulated, it’s the Wild West you don’t really know that you’re making a fair bet, that there’s somebody that’s taking advantage of you,” he said.
Pallone also said it’s crazy that fantasy betting sites claim they are not in the gaming business, simply because they use the word “fantasy,” which allows them to continue to operate legally.
“Maybe when we passed the referendum in New Jersey that allowed sports betting, maybe the governor made a mistake. Maybe he should have just gotten up and said 'well actually what we’re doing now is fantasy betting,'” Pallone said. “He could have labeled the sports betting as fantasy betting and put on a giggle, and he could have said that was an exemption to the law because I call it fantasy betting.”
The lawmaker quoted an old expression, saying "if it looks like a duck and it acts like a duck, it’s a duck. This is gaming. They just think because they label it as fantasy sports that it’s not gaming and they can get away with it and get outside the law- it’s just absurd," he said.
Pallone also said the irony of it all is the NFL is making billions of dollars by investing in these fantasy sports betting sites, “and at the same time they use that money to sue us in New Jersey in federal court because they say we can’t have sports betting, I mean the hypocrisy is, I’ll call it the arrogance is unbelievable.”
Pallone believes the central issue is fairness.
“There should be sports betting and they shouldn’t be able to rake in all with money with the fantasy gaming I’ll call it, when you bet on a fantasy sports site or make a bet with a bookie that’s part of the mob it’s unregulated. But if we had sports betting in Jersey it would be regulated and fair and that’s really what the crux of this is.”