New York's Fantasy Football Fans Protest Nanny State Atty General

Perhaps this time, the moral busybodies picked the wrong crowd to try to protect.

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The nanny staters in the New York Attorney General’s office have gone and angered the legions of fans who plied their knowledge of professional football against other players, all with the hopes of a big payoff at the end of the day.

On Tuesday, Eric T. Schneiderman sent both FanDuel and DraftKings a cease and desist order, telling them to stop accepting “bets” from New York residents.

“It is clear that DraftKings and FanDuel are the leaders of a massive, multibillion-dollar scheme intended to evade the law and fleece sports fans across the country,” Mr. Schneiderman said, according to the New York Times, “Today we have sent a clear message: not in New York, and not on my watch.”

Fleece?

That’s a powerful word, insinuating that somehow these two companies are swindling their customers.

Here’s how these companies work. A player creates an account on the site. There are different leagues and games to choose from, each requiring an entry fee. The higher the entry fee, the bigger the possible payoff. Players willingly decide which contests they want to compete in and then, using their knowledge of the game, choose the team they believe will perform best. At the end of the contest day, the points their team accrues is compared to the other teams in the league and the team with the highest points wins. I assume the companies keep a portion of the entry fee.

Where exactly is anyone fleecing anyone and how is it the role of government to stop people from participating in this contest?

Answer? No one is being fleeced and it isn’t the government’s role, but since when did that stop the nanny state.

There’s only one thing that’s ever been effective against the moral busybodies who know what’s best for you — fighting back.

DraftKings sent the following message to all their players.

“Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is considering preventing New Yorkers from playing daily fantasy sports,” and added: “Hey, New York, protect your right to keep playing daily fantasy sports. Contact the attorney general today!”

Today, that’s exactly what they did.

Mashable reports that it’s their belief that most of the protesters were employees, as many were unwilling to give their names to the press.

In a sign of what’s to come, FanDuel sent a tweet on Thursday, later deleted, that warned, “If politicians are going to tell you that you can’t play fantasy sports, what will they tell you next?”

It’s also ramping up a list of supporters, appealing to its users to sign a petition to “make your voice heard.”

“As we said, this week was only the beginning of the legal process,” a FanDuel spokesperson told Mashable. “We have a legal business that millions and millions of people love and we are entitled to due process and look forward to being heard in court.”

Both companies contend that their business model isn’t gambling, as it’s based on skill, not chance.

FanDuel issued a statement which read, in part, “The game has been played — legally — in New York for years and years, but after the Attorney General realized he could now get himself some press coverage, he decided a game that has been around for a long, long time is suddenly now not legal. We have operated openly and lawfully in New York for several years. The only thing that changed today is the Attorney General’s mind.”

DraftKings was equally indignant.

“We are very disappointed that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman took such hasty action today, particularly since he did not take any time to understand our business or why daily fantasy sports are clearly a game of skill,” DraftKings said in a statement. “We strongly disagree with the reasoning in his opinion and will examine and vigorously pursue all legal options available to ensure our over half a million customers in New York State can continue to play the fantasy sports games they love.

“We continue to see a number of other officials, including Senator [Joe] Negron in Florida, Representative [Mike] Zalewski in Illinois and the Federal Trade Commission, take a reasoned, informed and measured approach to the daily fantasy sports business. We hope this trend continues along with due consideration for over 56 million sports fans across the country who enjoy playing fantasy sports. We remain committed to working with all relevant authorities to ensure that our industry operates in a manner that is transparent and fair for all consumers.

Once again, the New York government sees itself as a nanny. The only way this will end is if the people who are impacted make it politically painful for this action to continue. The players in these contests are rabid football fans and most likely won’t take kindly to having one of their favorite games made illegal, for their own good.

Perhaps this time, the Attorney General picked the wrong crowd to try to protect.

What do you think? Is this the right move for the AG, or another example of government gone wild?

And while you’re at it, here’s New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s deets:
1(800) 771-7755 or send an email => NYAG.Pressoffice@ag.ny.gov

Photo Credit: DaBruins/flikr
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