The legalization of sports betting in the United States appears to be gaining steam, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t still strong opposition to the idea. One aspect of sports betting that has taken on a life of its own is daily fantasy sports. Websites like DraftKings and FanDuel offer users the chance to play fantasy sports to win real money. Both sites operate legally in most states, despite detractors claiming that it is a form of sports gambling, which is illegal in every state but Nevada.
In Wisconsin, there has been recent momentum toward state regulation of daily fantasy sports (DFS). However, a new group of residents is voicing its opposition to the idea. The Citizens Against Expanded Gambling group says that expanding gambling within the state’s borders could prove to be seriously harmful to young people.
State Representative Tyler Vorpagel recently issued a co-sponsorship memo arguing for the legalization and regulation of DFS within Wisconsin. It’s Vorpagel’s second push toward getting DFS regulated in the Wisconsin Legislature.
Vorpagel will try and convince other state lawmakers that daily fantasy sports are more a game of skill than a game of chance. That has been the most oft-cited defense of DFS among supporters in the past, as well. Wisconsin’s state constitution currently bans any form of the expansion of gambling within the state. However, if Vorpagel and other supporters can convince lawmakers that DFS is, indeed, a game of skill, then it has the chance to gain legalization in Wisconsin.
DFS currently falls under a bit of a gray area legally in Wisconsin. Because operators are currently allowed to operate within the state without a penalty, Vorpagel believes regulation will afford operators to continue to work in the state with a stated set of legal guidelines.
People that oppose DFS scoff at the notion that it is a game of skill. Citizens Against Expanded Gambling and Family Action say that DFS, unlike season-long fantasy leagues, depends largely on external factors like “an injury, a snowstorm or a ball bouncing strangely.” Opponents argue that those are examples that prove DFS is a game of chance rather than one of skill.
Those in opposition argue that regulating DFS would violate the Wisconsin Constitution. They say that putting money on the line in a daily fantasy sports contest is no different than placing a wager on a game with a bookmaker.
The opposition groups fear that DFS operators are currently targeting a younger audience, which could lead to addiction and debt. The two groups, which have more than 22,000 members, argue that DFS regulation would open “Pandora’s online gambling box.”
Vorpagel is of the belief that Wisconsin would benefit financially from attempting to capitalize on the ever-growing DFS industry. More and more DFS operators are popping up all the time, and it’s only going to continue to gain steam. Vorpagel’s initial push in 2016 didn’t gain much momentum, but he is optimistic that his renewed efforts will be more successful.
Vorpagel says that nearly a million Wisconsin residents regularly play DFS, and allowing citizens to do so in a regulated environment would benefit all parties. Daily fantasy sports are not illegal under the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. Individual states have been granted power to decide whether to allow operators to do so within their respective state’s borders.
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