ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – As the football season heats up, so does fantasy football. But with the promise of millions of dollars in winnings, is it considered gambling?
Millions of people play Fantasy Football each season. But some fans take it a bit further and risk hundreds of dollars to win big on sites like FanDuel and Draft Kings.
But why isn’t Fantasy Football considered illegal like gambling? Because a 2006 Internet Gambling Enforcement Act has an exemption for fantasy sports because it’s considered skill based.
Jeff Levack is a die-hard NFL fan. He talks about it on the radio for a living, and now he uses his expertise online to win money.
“Last year, I just dabbled,” he said. “Didn’t know a lot about it.”
Levack participated in DraftKings, a daily fantasy sports site that allows you to build a fantasy team every week promising to turn picks into real cash prizes.
“If I had a really bad week, I move on to start a whole new week,” he said. “I do a lot of 50/50 where if you’re in the top half, you can double your investment.”
The cash prizes can range from $250,000 in DraftKings’ Monday Night Special to millions of dollars.
“I missed out this week on $3,000 by two players,” Levack said.
Jim Maney, Director of the New York Council on Problem Gambling, said the government allowed a waiver for fantasy sports betting due to the need for skill.
“If you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re never gonna win,” Levack said.
Levack said he follows a player’s every move.
“I like to pay attention,” he explained. “Does this quarterback do well against this defense? If he does, I’ll roll with him that week.”
But with thousands of people pooling their money into the fantasy sites, critics say there is still a lot of chance involved.
“The basic premise is you’re going to put money down to risk it to win more money,” Maney said. “Even though it’s a skill based concept, it’s still luck.”
For the casual sports fan, fantasy football can be fun, but critics see a few problems. With DraftKing and FanDuel signing up thousands of subscribers every week, lawmakers are taking a closer look.
A New Jersey congressman has submitted a letter to the Congressional Energy and Commerce Committee to examine the legal status of sports and betting and the relationship to fantasy leagues.