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Sports is full of numbers, and one of the more revealing numbers to surface this week involves the people betting on fantasy sports.
The business of betting on fantasy sports is dominated by two companies: FanDuel and DraftKings. Before last weekend’s actual football games, news surfaced that an employee of DraftKings had won big by betting with FanDuel after he’d figured out where the sucker money was going.
Did this breaking news discourage people from betting with either of the two companies?
Even the fans who know all about which quarterback just had a fight with his wife have no chance against insiders with access to the betting behavior of the masses.
If you enjoy betting on roulette, and you learn that the wheel at your local casino is rigged, do you keep betting on that wheel?
If you’re nodding your head up and down and mumbling, “Yes, I certainly do,” then you’re the sort of customer upon whom FanDuel and DraftKings can count.
The shred of legitimacy to which these companies cling is the shaky contention that since — allegedly — clients thoughtfully pick players for their fantasy teams, they are engaged in a game of skill.
But even the fans who know all about which quarterback just had a fight with his wife have no chance against insiders with access to the betting behavior of the masses.
That the enterprise features “fantasy sports” suggests a certain playfulness, but the real fantasy is the contention that fans who pay Fan Duel or DraftKings aren’t gambling. As Boston Globe columnist Kevin Cullen opined on Tuesday, “If you’re taking in a lot of money on wagers and paying out a lot less, you’re in the gambling business, not the skill business.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself, which is why I didn’t try.
That DraftKings and FanDuel enjoyed their most prosperous weekends following the news that an employee of one clip joint had made a bundle betting with the other one suggests that nothing short of a bust — under consideration in various state office buildings — will deter gamblers from placing doomed hunch bets disguised as informed choices. And after those busts, if the states don’t develop new lotteries based on fantasy sports, they’ll be missing a great bet.
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