INWOOD, NY – I don’t know about you, but when I see the word draft, I think of beer on tap. When I read the word king, I think of someone with supreme authority. So a draft king ought to be someone who is either an expert on beer or a person, like Short Matt, with a large capacity for beer consumption. Those aren’t the draft kings that are occupying my attention these days, unfortunately.
For cryin’ out loud, is there anything more obnoxious than the proliferation of the DraftKings into our lives? Yet, FanDuel BRINGS IT TO A WHOLE NEW LEVEL! If we gave fans swords and watched them go at it, maybe it could pique my interest. But if you follow sports on TV, print or online this insidious online gaming is advertising’s version of a home invasion. I can’t seem to get away from it. Stupid TV ads, banners and pop up ads across websites and apparently on every bus kiosk, phone booth and train station in New York City. I can only imagine this must be what life in North Korea is like where Kim Jung Il’s image assaults you daily.
My position on participating in fantasy sports has been documented on these pages but let’s call a spade a spade here. DraftKings and FanDuel operate on the surface under the aegis of a fantasy draft. In reality, it is on-line gaming. In fact, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced Tuesday that the fantasy gambling sites must cease and desist from accepting wagers from residents of his state. Incredibly, these outfits operate under a specious federal law called the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, that establishes fantasy sports as a “game of skill” and not a “game of chance.”
DraftKings and FanDuel are really just wagering schemes that prey on soft-minded folks who risk and usually lose money. Why? Because there is much more chance involved then skill. How did the proliferation of these companies arise? A little research reveals, for example, that MLB has an investment stake in DraftKings and that the company has an exclusive $250M advertising contract with ESPN and another $250M non-exclusive contract with FOX Sports. FanDuel has major backing from Comcast and a “strategic” partnership with the NBA.
I long for the days of sports innocence.
It would be dishonest unless I admitted that I’m a bit of a hypocrite about gambling. I’ve been to Las Vegas and Atlantic City on occasion and I enjoy the yearly Triple Crown pari-mutuel betting on the ponies. You can also throw me in the pool with the rest of the soft-minded, because I do regularly participate in bar football box pools. We have six weekly Monday Night Football sheets and a few annual Super Bowl boxes. While it’s not all innocence, there is an inherent charm to box pool wagering that standard betting can’t compete with. Hand-drawn sheets, scraps of paper confirming receipt of cash and a combination of good old Irish names and aliases. Pizza Pete, Mr. Last and Rob Joltz going up against Dennis Byrnes, Ed McCaffrey and Katie Connell (Mrs. Tall Matt).
This kitschy, old-school bar betting is not long for this world sadly and will some day go the way of all things nostalgia driven. The advent of online sports gambling that’s ascending will hasten the end of box pools and in tow the neighborhood joints.
You can bet on it.
Please feel free to weigh-in below and come back tomorrow for a guy that’s always even-money, Different Matt.