May 31st, 2009

It’s Gambling, Not Fantasy, That Threatens NCAA Playoffs

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

It’s just an average Associated Press story, one that probably won’t even be picked up by too many outlets that aren’t located in Montana or Delaware or specifically geared toward college sports. Its lead, though, shows a clear need for clarification — or maybe even just attention to detail.

The article, covering a subject that we previously brought up in FSB Daily, opens with this: “State and university officials are working to prove a Montana law that allows fantasy sports leagues does not violate the NCAA’s stance against gambling on sporting events.”

It is most certainly not the allowance of fantasy sports leagues that would prohibit Montana from hosting NCAA playoff games. If that were the case, there wouldn’t be any such events in states such as California and Florida.

The conflict is over gambling. Montana introduced a fantasy sports-based lottery game last year, and Delaware just recently legalized sports betting. Fantasy sports are fine everywhere, with residents in just a handful of states excluded from receiving prize payouts (a group we hope will lose Maryland soon).

Some might think this a matter of semantics, but when it comes to legal scuffles, semantics can get pretty important. Even if you remove the legall aspect, though, such word choices could signal that many still don’t get it. Fantasy sports aren’t gambling. Even the federal government knows that.