DFS Losing College Fantasy Sports Indefinitely
The daily fantasy sports industry will get to wrap up college basketball’s March Madness in style. Then it will be stripped of the right to post college fantasy sports games, indefinitely.
Per ESPN, the leading websites in the DFS industry – DraftKings and FanDuel – have agreed to suspend all contests including college sports indefinitely as part of a deal with the NCAA. The move doesn’t come as a huge surprise, considering the NCAA has long been against daily fantasy sports being associated with their college teams and players.
The two DFS sites reportedly are ceasing college fantasy sports contests voluntarily, likely in hopes of coming to an agreement with the NCAA down the road. With the college basketball fantasy season ending in a week, it appears to be a wise move by the two leading DFS companies, as they try to focus their energy on keeping their sites (and industry) legal.
Daily fantasy sports have fallen on tough times over the past year, ever since the two leading site bombarded the world with endless commercials and promos. Since then, lawmakers have taken interest in the industry, either to outlaw it completely or get a piece of the pie, financially.
It’s worth wondering if that’s the NCAA’s end game here, too. Are they truly concerned about the conduct associated with the games and how they relate to the student athletes, or do they want to be compensated for the use of school and player names?
It’s not a notion that lacks precedence, as the NCAA has always been under fire for not paying student athletes and instead hogging all of the proceeds themselves, or paying the schools exclusively. A similar situation happened with the popular video game, NCAA Football, as it ceased production of the game in 2013 due to licensing issues.
NCAA Mark Emmert at least gave the impression that the NCAA has the universities and players in its best interests, however:
“We appreciate and commend DraftKings and FanDuel’s action to stop offering contests involving college, high school and youth sports. This action culminates months of hard work between all parties to reach a place that is good for amateur sports and most importantly, the young people who participate. We will work diligently with our member schools over the coming year to ensure such amateur sports ‘carve outs’ are included in pending states’ legislation.”
The hits truly do keep on coming for the daily fantasy sports industry, who recently had to shut down operations in New York and have seen several states question their legality in the past year.
Of course, it’s certainly not a hit that DraftKings and FanDuel can’t overcome. College fantasy sports only account for roughly 3% of the DFS income from players and the sports weren’t being targeted heavily until the past year. Due to college sports being more stretched out with more teams and lesser known players, fewer players risk real money on contests they don’t have confidence in that they can win.
The problem isn’t that college fantasy sports is gone for now or even forever. It’s that it might be the tip of the iceberg. While progress appears to be being made in some spots, the daily fantasy sports industry still has an uphill climb to keep their genre legal and away from stiff regulation.
It remains to be seen if either/both will be lasting realities, but for now, daily college fantasy sports isn’t part of the plan. College basketball and DFS fans can enjoy one last bit of DFS/college infused action this weekend, however, as DraftKings and FanDuel continue to plug games heading into the 2016 Final Four.
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