Lawmakers look into whether online fantasy sports leagues are co - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Lawmakers look into whether online fantasy sports leagues are considered gambling

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WEST HAVEN, CT (WFSB) -

One-day online fantasy sports leagues continue to grow in popularity, but they’re also stirring up controversies.

Lawmakers said the most recent issue has to do with accusations of insider trading which prompted calls for federal reviews.

They said the largest question is over considering these leagues gambling or skill-based gaming.

“We saw so many commercials advertising draft kings and all the fantasy leagues,” said Lawrence Baier, a former Draft Kings player.

Baier said he and his son saw the commercials everywhere.

In recent months, companies like Draft Kings and Fan Duel spent millions on advertising to draw in scores of fans. The biggest sell is a promise to win prize money with no season-long commitment to continue playing.

“They wanted like $20 or $30 to put down on the account,” Baier said.

Baier said he did that. It wasn’t long before he was down to nothing.

“I think it’s definitely gambling, see if you can win,” he said.

While sports betting is forbidden in most states, one-day fantasy leagues contend that they are legal and protected by federal law because they are seen as a game of skill rather than chance.

"I feel like it’s kind of an in between, a moral grey zone," said fantasy sports player David Vetter.

Still, the questions are mounting.

“There is little doubt that fantasy sports operations that are very much in evidence these days are nothing more than a form of gambling,” said West Haven state Rep. Stephen Dargan, public safety and security co-chair. “More and more states will be taking a closer look at these operations and I believe there will be an effort to better regulate these operations at both the federal and state level.”

Neither Fan Duel nor Draft Kings responded to questions about their websites.

A New York Times report published last week said a Draft Kings employee mistakenly released information that isn't usually available to the public, and an employee at Fan Duel won $350,000 that same week, which considers some insider trading.

Fan Duel has since banned its employees from playing on any sites and hired a former federal prosecutor to aid an internal review, and said there is no evidence that the integrity of their contest was compromised.

“You don’t have to talk about whether there’s gambling or skill, whether it’s chance or proficiency, whether it’s online or not. It’s a rigged game. That’s fraud," said U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal.

Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen’s office and Chief State’s Attorney Kevin Kane’s office both told Eyewitness News that they are reviewing the websites’ practices.

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