Fantasy Sports: Is it gambling?

What is it?

Fantasy sports is a way to bet real money on pretend teams. Daniel OKrent and nine friends started in 1980 with 250 dollars, what is now a fifteen billion dollar industry. It is comparable to on-line poker according to some, and has nothing to do with gambling according to others. Fantasy sports is also known by other names, such as “roto”, and “rotisserie”, because it began in “La Rotisserie Française” restaurant.

The Debate:

On the one hand, according to one source, “as long as the prizes and awards are established in advance, the outcomes “reflect the relative knowledge and skill of the participants and are determined predominantly by accumulated statistical results of the performance of individuals,” in multiple events, and the result is not based on any single score, point-spread, team performance, or individual performance.”, meaning, fantasy sports is skill based. On the other hand, is fantasy sports really different from other forms of sports betting? And is it gambling plain and simple – comparable, to, say, horse racing?

Fantasy sports is a game of skill according to a bill being proposed in Texas. It is a movement toward a bigger agenda of legalizing sport betting in general. A step to regulating something which is already going on on a mass scale. Sports gambling is arguably not as risky as some of the other activities and not as addictive as other forms of gambling. One fantasy sports website offered a chance to win a $1,000,000 prize for a two dollar entry, but not all prizes are cash. Professional sports teams, franchises, stadiums, and athletes have endorsed fantasy sports offering sports experiences as prizes as well, (such as playoff tickets and a trip to the playboy mansion).

According to the same article, “A Justice Department spokesman told ThinkProgress that it “remains concerned about Internet gambling because of the potential for gambling by minors and compulsive gambling, the potential for fraud and money laundering, and the potential for involvement of organized crime,” but would not “speculate on the legality of specific online sites.”..,  which in a nutshell summarizes arguments against legalizing fantasy sports betting; the same arguments appear against other forms of gambling. 


In conclusion, it is difficult to say who is right or wrong in the argument over fantasy sports betting. On the one hand, it is an outlet which allows people to own a pretend sports team with real money at stake; on the other hand, it is a danger like any other form of gambling. There are websites offering free versions of fantasy sports, (I personally tried the ESPN fantasy basketball league with a few friends), which could be a lot of fun. 


Alex is a freelance writer and student of life. He spent some time attending University in NYC after high school where he studied Physical Education. He was born in Odessa, Ukraine on October 6, 1991 (25 years old) and moved to America when he was 9 years old. He started writing when he was in college, mostly by helping friends with their school papers. He enjoys music and plays guitar. He also composes for the classical guitar and produces original electronic music. He spent some time writing original books, but never published. His interests include reading books and playing basketball. If you would like to know more, ask a question, or simply say "hi", you can send him an e-mail at: [email protected]