On this date nine years ago -- just a few months after I started the Hard-Boiled Poker blog -- I wrote a post here called “Deals in the Dead of Night” noting how the night before, after midnight in fact, a federal bill had passed through both houses that thereafter change the course of online poker in the United States once it was signed into law by then-president George W. Bush a couple of weeks later.
As it happened, that same bill -- the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 -- helped pave the way for the birth of a new online industry, fantasty sports.
1. “Senate Passes Bill on Building Border Fence” (The New York Times, Sept. 29, 2006)
“At the urging of conservative groups and the National Football League, among other interests, the port security measure carried legislation cracking down on Internet gambling by prohibiting credit card companies and other financial institutions from processing the exchange of money between bettors and Web sites. The prohibition, which exempts some horse-racing operations, has previously passed the House and Senate at different times but has never cleared Congress.”
2. “Frist Statement on Passage of Internet Gambling Legislation” (Sept. 29, 2006)
“U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, M.D., (R-Tenn.) made the following statement after the Senate passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act:
‘Gambling is a serious addiction that undermines the family, dashes dreams, and frays the fabric of society. Congress has grappled with this issue for 10 years, and during that time we’ve watched this shadow industry explode. For me as majority leader, the bottom line is simple: Internet gambling is illegal. Although we can’t monitor every online gambler or regulate offshore gambling, we can police the financial institutions that disregard our laws.’”
3. “Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006” (Oct. 13, 2006)
“The term ‘bet or wager’... does not include... participation in any fantasy or simulation sports game or educational game or contest in which (if the game or contest involves a team or teams) no fantasy or simulation sports team is based on the current membership of an actual team that is a member of an amateur or professional sports organization....”
4. “NFLPA Adds DraftKings to Partnership Lineup” (Sept. 25, 2015)
“The NFL Players Association (NFLPA), via its licensing and marketing arm NFL Players Inc., and DraftKings, a leading destination for daily fantasy sports (DFS), today announced a group licensing partnership that will allow some of the NFL’s top-rated players to participate in DraftKings’ marketing efforts this season.... The NFLPA licensing partnership will provide DraftKings the right to employ active NFL players for in-product and promotional campaigns across broadcast, print, social media, digital and mobile properties, as well as via experiential, memorabilia and content activations....
As the popularity of fantasy sports continues to grow with more than 56 million players in 2015, a nearly 40-percent year-to-year increase according to global market research company Ipsos, the deal provides DraftKings with a new degree of connectivity by directly involving a group of active NFL players in the marketing and promotion of its daily fantasy sports experience to fans.”
5. “Fantasy Sports Sites DraftKings, FanDuel September Spend Tops $100 Million” (Advertising Age, Sept. 30, 2015).
“According to iSpot.tv estimates, DraftKings and FanDuel together have funneled $107 million into the networks' coffers since Sept. 1. Nearly half ($50.3 million) of that outlay was spent on national NFL broadcasts on CBS, Fox, NBC, ESPN and NFL Network....
DraftKings ads have aired a skull-clutching 16,259 times over the course of the month, which works out to 135 hours and 25 minutes of 30-second spots. That's more than five-and-a-half days, or a full work week, of commercial messaging that's been hammered out in the span of a 29-day period.... By iSpot's reckoning, FanDuel ads have aired 9,463 times since Sept. 1. That translates to nearly 79 hours of total airtime, or a little north of three days.”
6. Dan LeBatard and Jon Weiner (Stugotz), The Dan LeBatard Show with Stugotz (ESPN, Sept. 29, 2015)
LeBatard: “DraftKings is spilling money all over the place, and now they have made an allegiance with the NFL Players Union where they are able to put players in their advertising. And I’m trying to find exactly the right analogy here, because what DraftKings and FanDuel and what the fantasy phenomenon has captured here is, it’s not quite legalized cocaine... because cocaine has a stigma with it.... But we are in an area right now where DraftKings and FanDuel... and their ilk have found this place.... They’ve found a place where it’s gambling -- it’s obviously gambling -- [and] they’re able to spill and sponsor everything in sports and everyone is taking their money.... People want it.”
Stugotz: “I agree with you about the stigma, but wasn’t online poker... didn’t they ban that?”
LeBatard: “Yes... but online poker is a little sketchier, not nearly as popular as this is....”
Stugotz: “I agree, but I’m just trying to figure out the difference between the two.”
LeBatard: “Oh, there is no difference. One’s legal and one’s not.... One is legal because it’s a game of skill, the other is illegal because, poker players will tell you, it, too, is a game of skill, but it’s the same thing.... It’s amazing to watch the arbitrary moralities that we have with this.”
LeBatard: “I just think it’s weird that we are always applying arbitrary moralities, and in this case we are doing it with our legal system and we’re doing it with our government. It doesn’t make any sense to me that this is legal and online poker isn’t.”