Statement Against Fantasy Football
by Andy Schlafly
A recent cover of Fortune magazine showed a man carrying a football along with a screaming headline “BET BIG.” A multi-billion-dollar industry of gambling on football has recently taken hold of our country with hardly anyone objecting to it.
This is called fantasy football, and the NFL is pushing this so hard that it even wants children to learn about it in elementary school math class. By hooking children on this, the NFL hopes to lock in another generation for its television ratings.
Gambling is illegal in most areas of our country. It is one of the most cruel vices of all, preying on those who can least afford to lose their money and time to it.
Gambling transfers money from the poor and middle class to the rich. Many, perhaps most, addicted gamblers eventually commit serious crimes to fund their habit, even though they were never criminals before their addiction.
Habitual gamblers often end up losing everything and going into massive debt before seeking help. Bankruptcy filings follow, and suicides have reportedly occurred too.
Gambling frequently destroys a community, as demonstrated by the recent financial collapse of Atlantic City where its largest casino sold for mere pennies on the dollar of what it cost to build it. Throughout our nation’s history, gambling has repeatedly led to corruption.
As explained by casinowatch.org, in 2006 many children were using the internet to develop gambling habits. One study showed that 42% of children aged 12 to 17 were gambling online without using money, and 6% were playing for money, at that time.
In the final achievement of the Republican Congress under the Bush Administration, Congress voted overwhelmingly to outlaw internet gambling in 2006. Subsequently the World Trade Organization tried to force us to allow internet gambling from Antigua, illustrating why we should have never ceded sovereignty to that anti-American organization.
This federal ban on internet gambling, however, contained a loophole for “fantasy sports” gambling schemes that supposedly contain some elements of skill. In fantasy football, participants create their own fantasy teams, and then their fantasy teams win or lose based on how the players they picked perform each week in real NFL games.
So instead of betting on the actual NFL games themselves, fantasy football participants bet on something that depends on the actual NFL games. It is illegal in most places to bet on actual NFL games, but fantasy football enables participants to do something similar by betting on fantasy teams that win or lose based on how real NFL players perform each week in real NFL games.
Through this loophole billions of dollars are being bet on football like never before, to the point where this gambling overshadows sports betting in Las Vegas. In less than a decade the number of those who enticed to play fantasy football has skyrocketed to more than 50 million.
Hard-sell television ads now to entice viewers to participate in fantasy football games that can cost them many hundreds or thousands of dollars, and even addict them. Average American football fans, typically men, are transformed into gamblers by get-rich-quick promises using these fantasy sports schemes.
The NFL heavily promotes this because the more that people bet on fantasy football, the higher their television ratings and the greater their revenue. The advertisements for this during football broadcasts amount to money in the bank for the NFL, and nearly every team in the NFL now has its own deal to profit from fantasy football.
The NFL’s website features fantasy football, encouraging visitors to sign up for it. Major League Baseball, which should have learned after baseball was almost ruined by the “Black Sox Scandal” of gambling on the 1919 World Series, now has its own deal with one of these fantasy sports companies.
ESPN airs many NFL football games, and is an investor in one of the fantasy football companies, now estimated to be worth more a billion dollars.
Though football is a legitimate American pastime, gambling is not. In 1976, when there was very little gambling in our country, less than 1% of Americans were pathological gamblers, but today that number has worsened to today five-fold or more.
Most NFL stadiums were built using taxpayer money, and the public should have a strong say in objecting to their use to promote gambling on football. With the NFL trying to push this into elementary school curriculum, it is time to push back.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has recently launched an investigation into two fantasy football companies over whether an employee of one of them had inside information that enabled him to win $350,000 in one contest, but this problem is bigger than that. Congress needs to get on the field quickly and blow the whistle against this burst of gambling on football.