Montana Turns Fantasy Football into Gambling

When the upcoming NFL season begins, so will a fantasy football contest run by the Montana Lottery for the benefit of the state’s Board of Horse Racing.

The game is just like most fantasy football competitions in that participants select players and then collect their points each week. The weekly pot is divided among the three highest scorers. Because the contest isn’t licensed by the NFL, the tickets show no player or team names, identifying the athletes by city, position and jersey number.

In 46 states, such a game is illegal under the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992. Montana is exempt, however, according to the Helena Indepent Record, as it Delaware, Nevada and Oregon were grandfathered in under the legislation because they already allowed sports gambling before the act was created.

Because the game is a parimutuel, it is required by law to pay out 74 percent of the money taken in to winning participants. Another 16 percent goes to the Montana horse-racing board, with the remaining 10 percent split between the state lottery and the ticket retailers.

Ryan Sherman, chief executive for Montana’s Board of Horse Racing, said the state is also looking to develop a NASCAR version of the game.

One would have to imagine that the other exempt states will keep an eye on the success of Montana’s venture while considering whether to develop something similar. The fantasy sports industry should also pay attention, as the rise of such games could perpetuate the myth of fantasy sports’ close tie with gambling.


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One Response to “Montana Turns Fantasy Football into Gambling”

  1. Fantasy Sports Business » Blog Archive » New Hampshire Ponders Fantasy Sports ‘Lottery’ Says:

    [...] is believed that the game would work along the lines of what Montana rolled out back in 2008, allowing participants to select their players on a lottery ticket and then score according to [...]

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