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The Socialist’s Journal: Fan Duel and Draft Kings

fan duel - draft kings

*In the past I have argued that sports betting ought to be legal.

I have also argued that most people shouldn’t be betting on sports with the idea that they’ll be very successful.

These two ideas came together spectacularly this month when two fantasy sports betting sites (Fan Duel and Draft Kings) were found to have exploited their customers by using advanced metrics to gain an unfair competitive advantage in fantasy football.

Translation: dudes who work at one site and who have access to a bunch of information the rest of us don’t have, used that information to beat us in betting (on the other site). More accurately, they used that information to beat you in betting because you would literally have to pay me to risk money with one of these sites.

These recent revelations about employees at both websites prove that the average sports fan does not have much of a chance when matched up against those who spend the time to methodically research their fantasy lineup. Quite frankly that last sentence is hardly groundbreaking – the person who works the hardest to understand something will do better at it than another person who doesn’t work as hard. The thing about it is, I’d bet (ha, ha. See what I did there?) is going into his fantasy matchup assuming his competition is someone, like himself, who doesn’t have hours each week to research and strategy. I’d bet that the fans who are doing that are really confident in their ability to pick a winner. But it turns out that both of those fans could be facing someone who has stats and analysis they haven’t even thought of yet.

Again, I believe that sports betting should be legal. And at some level this is a personal bias against fantasy because I don’t understand it as well as betting against the line. Nevertheless it seems to me that betting against the line is a lot more straightforward with much less risk that I am engaging in an activity where all of the variables are unknown to me.

If this seems contradictory to you then consider the right to bear arms. Even if you believe Americans have the right to own weapons, most people would draw the line somewhere before letting people buy nuclear weapons. The line is arbitrary but it is always drawn. For me with sports gambling the line is drawn at participating in fantasy betting.

If you want to cross that line, I hope you work at Draft Kings.

Note: This story was originally published in 2015

Trevor Brookins
Trevor Brookins

Trevor Brookins is a free lance writer in Rockland County, New York. He is currently working on a book about American culture during the Cold War.  His writing has appeared in The Journal News. You can reach him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @historictrev.


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