NFL players can play daily fantasy, they just can’t win much

As the daily fantasy phenomenon mushrooms, the NFL continues to embrace the game that millions are playing. And NFL players are allowed to play daily fantasy games.

They’re just not allowed to win much.

“[F]antasy football games and League or Club-sponsored skills competitions (e.g., racquetball tournaments, ‘Club Olympics’ events) for prizes generally are not considered to be gambling or a gambling-related activity, provided that there is no wagering on the outcome,” the league’s policies for players state. “NFL Personnel may not, however, accept prizes with a value in excess of Two Hundred Fifty Dollars ($250) in any fantasy football game. This prohibition is intended to avoid any appearance of impropriety which may result from participation in fantasy football games by individuals perceived to have an unfair advantage due to their preferential access to information.”

The $250 rule, according to the league office, applies to all NFL and team personnel — players, coaches, executives, everyone.

It creates an odd dynamic, especially with (as reported by Liz Mullen of SportsBusiness Daily) the NFL Players Association’s marketing arm signing a group licensing deal with DraftKings, which means players will be actively marketing a product that they themselves can use only on a limited basis.

“You can win a million bucks! I can’t, which sucks. But you can!”

The league’s clumsy balancing act with legal fantasy football for money and illegal gambling will continue to raise eyebrows. The ship already has sailed on daily fantasy; the industry had the ability to lobby for a federal law making it not gambling in 2006 — and the industry has millions more now to protect its ever-expanding turf.

If fantasy football isn’t gambling because it involves skill and not chance, betting on football isn’t gambling, either. Indeed, it takes more skill and less chance to pick football winners against the spread than to cobble together a mismatched lottery ticket of different players from different teams in different stadiums under different conditions that is thrown into a giant hopper with competing lineups selected by hundreds if not thousands of others.

If daily fantasy is legal, wagering on football should be legal, too. All wagering should be legal; if people want to piss away their money games of skill or chance or both, why shouldn’t they be allowed to do it?

Implicit in the power to pursue happiness is the privilege to squander it. If an adult wants to try to get rich quick via stocks or real estate or pork belly futures or daily fantasy or betting on football or roulette or dice or craps or whether Creed Bratton realizes he just took a bite out of a potato and is willing to risk getting poor to do it,  the government shouldn’t get in the way — especially if the government isn’t getting in the way for several of those get-rich-quick-get-poor-quicker opportunities.

55 responses to “NFL players can play daily fantasy, they just can’t win much

  1. Are we supposed to feel bad that the guys who get paid multi-millions to play a game can’t win a million in a game based on the game they are already being paid to play?

  2. “if people want to piss away their money games of skill or chance or both, why shouldn’t they be allowed to do it?”

    You’re getting a call from anti-gambling organizations today lol. Surprised on your stance on this.

  3. I agree with Florio. The imaginary distinction between “skill” and “chance” is arbitrary and absurd.

    I love financial markets and have been “investing” for over 15 years, but am well aware that it is gambling, nothing less. It’s just a question of what risk profile you prefer for your gambling. A saving account is a particularly low risk gamble, but you still may have your saving confiscated (e.g. the Cyprus “bail-in”) or diffused via inflation.

  4. Daily Fantasy Sports is a bunch of crap designed to make a company very rich and hose the rest. It is gambling not a game of skill. Pick X Players and win is all it is. Keno is the same pick X numbers and win.

  5. Great, looks like this will get further entrenched then. I’m already completely fed up with seeing a Draft Kings or Fan Duel commercial during EVERY commercial break on Sunday. Please cut that crap out! I’m a devote Fantasy Football Player but I have no interest in this daily crap. No I do NOT believe I will win a million dollars, you will swindle me from my money on a regular basis instead. Just like gambling, which is exactly what this is.

  6. DFS does take skill to win regularly. “Cobbling” together a lineup is not as easy as you seem to think to have a chance at winning cash. While some nitwit with no NFL knowledge could win, it is highly unlikely, because one has to be able to project performances.

    As one who has been doing this for over a year now, I can tell you that without spending a lot of time on research, you won’t get far, and you won’t win very often if at all.

  7. I could logically see players betting through their friends.

    I take exception with this…

    “provided that there is no wagering on the outcome.”

    It’s exactly what it is. You place your money (a wager) and you bet that your FF teams total will be more than your opponents. (the outcome)

    Does anyone else think they are living inside that spoof movie Idiocracy?

  8. The difference lies in what constitutes a threat to “the integrity of the game.”

    Realistically, an individual player could be tempted to act to affect a point spread if the money’s good enough. There’s no viable mechanism I can see where, even if you were able to bribe/coerce a player to alter his performance, you could reliably beat the field and make money off it in daily fantasy.

  9. Legalised online poker with 53 players instead of cards.

    Discard the trash, hope you hit it with yours. Some skill but a LOT of luck.

    Especially against pros who submit 1000’s of combo entries.

    It’s an under regulated mess.

    The Feds are closing in on this racket.

  10. Yes, people should have the right to do anything with their cash that they want. EVERYBODY.

    On the other hand, suppose Tripplet has Peyton on his fantasy team with the chance to win $1MM when the Broncos play the Patriots. The Broncos win due to the normal number of “bad” calls. The media and the Pats fans would be screaming to high heaven about him being biased.

    Better to just continue the current system and prevent that type of controversy

  11. I still think there’s a difference between wagering on outcomes of games vs. daily fantasy leagues. It is easier for someone to influence the outcome of a game (i.e. shaving points) than it is to influence say a running back to run for 100+ yds and multiple touchdowns. Which is why I think wagering on games is never going to be legal nationwide.

    Daily fantasy is still gambling, though. There is such a huge daily fantasy bubble right now I’m just waiting for something to happen to have it explode.

  12. Why not just ban them from playing fantasy football altogether? It is a legal activity but coaches, players, officials, GMs and owners shouldn’t be allowed to play. There are plenty of things that are legal that players cannot do because of their contracts. Some are individually specific and others are blanket clauses. I really do not care how they spend their money but gambling (yes, I believe this IS a form of gambling) in relation to the game they are involved in is just wrong. It gives the appearance of possible game fixing.

  13. Psa:
    Fan duel and other similar websites are algorithmically designed to screw the majority of players over.
    In short its like a legal ponzi scam

  14. I would argue it’s the same skill for games against the spread and fantasy. You use the same metrics to determine each. If a 40mph cross wind is expected to blow during the game, and the passing team is favored by 7 you may consider betting that team not to cover. Similarly, you would look elsewhere for your starting QB and WRs for that week. Also, if the opposition has a strong run attack it would reinforce the decision of team 1 not to cover, and you might consider starting that RB as he’s likely going to get more carries dictated by the weather. Clearly there are other factors besides weather but it is a good illustration.

  15. clayton268921 says:
    Sep 29, 2015 10:19 AM
    “if people want to piss away their money games of skill or chance or both, why shouldn’t they be allowed to do it?”

    You’re getting a call from anti-gambling organizations today lol. Surprised on your stance on this.


    Well, the mouth-breathers at the anti-gambling organizations are willfully ignorant to the fact that online gambling allows bettors to bet smaller amounts than casinos, bookies and sportsbooks. Many online books place caps on how much you can deposit and wager as well.

    Remember, these groups mostly consist of the Republicans who criticize any regulation of business, except for when it’s a business they cannot profit from. (Ex: Sheldon Adelson was the last to buy into online gamblnig infrastructure, and therefore got the worst subcontractors of the pack. Not surprising that he opposes online gambling. Wasn’t Adelson Romney’s biggest donor?)

  16. Ha ha, so players can gamble on sports! Wow. Of course this is only because the leagues get the kickbacks from the daily gambling fantasy sites and that is the ONLY reason. Hypocrisy and business management at it’s best!

  17. If you people really understood how these new 1 Day Fantasy Leagues work you would never play. It is not about player knowledge… You are up against MIT Mathmaticians with custom software. Also, the House keeps 20% on every entry. Sounds like a decent Business Model. You have less than a 30% chance of winning anything. It is a giant Scam and I guarantee this all goes away in a year or two, but for now the Advertising budget is so much revenue for all medias that it can’t. At least Vegas was built on 50% chance and look what it did in a Desert. Don’t let you ego get in the way of you Money and relationships! Enjoy Fantasy for what it is… Fun, not income.

  18. There is little difference between routlette and daily fantasy. You put your chips on a few players and hope it comes up at the end of the day.

  19. Fantasy football has saved the NFL. The refs and Kraft pretty much run the game and makes it hard to pull for a team. But when cheering for one person on a team makes the cheating easier to handle.

  20. Fantasy Football drives the NFL. You could put a monkey in as commissioner and the NFL would still make billions

    Don’t we already have one? It is certainly not a highly skilled professional running this circus!

  21. Pete Rose should be excepted into the HOF now any day then.

    I play regular no stakes fantasy. How is there daily ones when there are games weekly?

  22. I was gladdened by your responses – I was beginning to think I was the only one who thought advertising for gambling during games, when children were watching, when all of us were watching was one of the most sleazy things I’ve ever seen. Anyone playing this in the NFL is gambling on the NFL. Once stories come out about all the people losing their bank accounts, houses, cars, their mates leaving them or in despair themselves, this will bite the NFL in the ass in a huge way. Arrogance and stupidity is never a good combination.

  23. I’ve much better things to do with my time and money than waste it on fantasy football. No wonder people are apathetic about so many things.

  24. factschecker says:
    Sep 29, 2015 10:25 AM

    Does anyone else think they are living inside that spoof movie Idiocracy?


    Its funny that you mention that because Donald Trump being a front runner in the race for President that movie is what came to mind. It is a strange world these days.

    Fantasy football is gambling, nothing different than what Pete Rose got blackballed for.

  25. The difference between picking the winning horse and picking the winning wide receiver is about zero. Both use the same system to reset the price of the athletes, two or four legged.

    What a joke.

  26. Everything will fine be fantasy sports until the government realize (like always has) that they, somehow, deserve a larger cut, then the investigations will start.

  27. Unfortunately, I don’t see Draft Kings or the others lasting all that much longer:(

    It happens every single time something of this nature comes together. There will ALWAYS be like the 5 or 10 guys who end up losing and losing and….until there is a 5th morgtage on the house that the wife has no idea about, then the wife’s car get’s repossessed or sold then the kids’ college funds, etc….and then the wife SUES all because her husband is a DeucheBag! But, she’ll win! and her marrying a D’Bag ends up ruining everything for everyone else. EVERY TIME!

    And now, bringing the Argument that if Fantasy FB is legal (at the current moment) then betting (or, “wagering”) on regular games should be too (no matter how logical this may actually be.) is just starting the pounding of the first nail. because now you just put Fantasy FB in the same room as SportsBetting which just opens the door to all the Anti-groups and gave politicians something new to talk about during an election year!

    pretty soon, if people keep sue’ing like they do in this country and blaming everything/one else for whatever problems/issues. then we’re only a moment away from having to get federal or your local state/counties permission before swiping your debit card at a McDonald’s!!!

  28. Fantasy football is destroying the game for the purists. Goodell needs to keep offenses scoring to keep these fantasy dorks paying.

  29. As lawmakers in MA are examining the legality of DFS sites like draft kings, I’m sure there are plenty of us who would appreciate you NOT making the comparison to betting on games.

  30. .

    u mean players can BET on games…
    why is this legal??

    I mean they are making so much money they are going to own ALL the superbowl ads…
    the commercials ads etc are way out of hand…

  31. All of you people against Fanduel and Draftkings are hilarious. You probably tried it and lost. Fanduel and draftkings are not a ponzi scheme like some of you are saying. Their rake is under 10%, and you only have under a 30% chance of winning in large field tournaments where first place pays out a lot. There is head to head and 5050 games where half the field wins. Don’t knock it till you try it!

  32. It’s just crazy that when we watch NFL games, the NFL has no problem shilling this DFS garbage to absurd extremes, but heaven forbid a player celebrate a touchdown excessively and compromise the integrity of the game. I like fantasy football but this obnoxious DFS marketing is ruining it. Getting too greedy just like Mark Cuban predicted.

  33. This is my 3rd season on Fan Duels. Season 1 was an arrogance laden flame out. This is the stage many of you are at. Season 2 saw me do very well for a month before I made a few mistakes. I still lost my $100 after seven weeks but I was able to compete. This year, season 3, I bought the game film package, got a Pro Football Focus membership and read a 175 page book on “Cracking Fan Duels”. Am I a millionaire now? No. But I have raised my all time highest score from 144 to 175 so I’m making progress.

    Like many things it takes hard work and a lot of effort. I am not an “MIT mathematician” but I’ve done my best to mimic those who are. If I continue improving at my current rate I’m going to turn one of my $2 bets into serious money sooner or later. I just got to keep working hard.

    Fan Duels is not a scam. It’s just really hard and takes a lot of work. Chances are you’ll lose a lot at first but if you’re willing to put in the effort it can pay off.

  34. @thedkexperience51,
    LOL. You, in essence, are their business plan. I don’t knock you for trying and thinking you can do better but that is the same attitude almost every gambling addiction depends on. People think it is luck, then they believe there is skill involved, then they believe that they can figure it all out and win big. It is roughly the same as the slot machine addict thinking they are close to a jackpot because they got a seven and the other two were oh so close to the pay line. Any spin now (as the small amounts of money lost turn into one big problem). If you want to spend money having fun with FF, more power to you and I wish you luck but the companies that run them are there to make money, not provide an avenue for people to make a quick buck.

  35. Kinda weird that Pete Rose is still banned from baseball. From what I remember he bet on his team to win, /shrug.

    People take things too serious.

  36. Finfan, I completely see where you’re coming from. And, frankly you may be right. Still, I have absolutely improved my results week over week. I’m now consistently posting scores in the money mostly due to learning about how to play. This is very different than blindly pulling a lever.

    For example … I used to set one or two lineups based upon my 15+ years of fantasy football experience. I had good days and bad, but doing this is what lead to my flame out last year. I had too many eggs into a basket that quickly came up lame with a few injuries.

    Now, I enter about 25 different $2 lineups. I’ve learned about stacking. I’ve learned the difference between 50/50 and tournament roster construction. I’ve studied home/road splits and many, many other things to find small edges. These small things have accumulated to me posting higher scores than I ever have before, and diversifying my portfolio of investments has done me well.

  37. Also, I wanted to add that these companies make money off of their 10% commission. You are not playing against the house. You’re playing against other people. Poker is a much closer comparison than slots because in slots you have ZERO ability to control outcomes. In DFS and poker you have SOME ability to control the outcome. Any turn of a card (or ankle in this case) can cause a singular event to be lucky or unlucky, but the skill involves getting your money in as a favorite (in poker, AA vs 22 for example) or using evidence to put yourself in a better position to cash than a pure novice.

    Take last night … I had Jamal Charles. I could have blindly put him in because red is my favorite color, but I didn’t. I put him in because my research showed me that the Packers don’t defend the run very well. Making solid fact based decisions shows skill.

    Please also note that in my poorer days I paid poker to pay my rent. I have a bit of experience with this sort of thing.

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