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The Guardians of the Games' Fantasy Gamble
In their role as watchdogs over the integrity of their games, the NFL, NBA, NHL, NCAA and Major League Baseball have urged harsher penalties for transmitting sports bets. The Guardians of the Game state that sports gambling threaten the "integrity of athletic contests" and "lures young people into acceptance of a gambling lifestyle and undermines the family-friendly character of athletic events."

If betting on sports is a threat to the game and young people, why do the professional leagues encourage sports gambling? Major league broadcast partners such as CBS and ESPN offer pay-for-play fantasy games even though fantasy sports are a gateway gambling game that attracts even the youngest fans to begin playing for free and, in the case of CBS, offers a stepladder of betting options for when they get older. For example, CBS' fantasy football for money begins with a silver level at $14.95 and escalates to the "Double Diamond" level which requires staking $499.95 for the possibility of winning $3,500. Other fantasy sports operators offer even higher stakes play.

When fantasy sports involves staking non-trivial sums of money for the possibility of winning larger sums based on the performance of professional athletes, it is a form of sports gambling and no legislative carve-out changes that.

Fantasy sports are good for ratings and there is no question that encouraging fantasy sports betting by the major leagues is a good business decision, at least in the short term. Whether support of fantasy sports gambling is good for children or the integrity of the game is a completely different question.

See Major Sports League UIGEA comments

See CRE UIGEA comments

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