Is it Legal?

Daily Fantasy Baseball Legal Pic

The short answer is Yes, Daily Fantasy Baseball is legal.  See Daily Fantasy Baseball sites for info on where to play.

Daily Fantasy Baseball Legality

Disclaimer:

Although I am an attorney, the information below does not constitute legal advice.  Laws vary by jurisdication.  Laws change.  The simple act of you reading below does not mean I am your lawyer or I have given you legal advice.  The information below is only my attempt to shed some light on the question: Are daily fantasy sports legal?

It Seems Like Gambling

Daily fantasy sports certainly have similarities to betting on sports.  You study the possibilities, the probabilities, and the odds.  You put money at stake.  A game is played that you do not control.  You win or lose money.  There are many similarities.

The difference, in the eyes of the law, is that sports betting is pure chance.  Daily fantasy sports are a game of skill.  That is, in essence, what makes daily fantasy sports legal.  In reality, dfs is more chance than people would like to admit and sports betting is probably more skill than people would like to admit.  They are not far apart.  But the big bright line of legality stands in between them.

The UIGEA

Almost as early as the Internet itself, online gambling became an issue.  It was hard to regulate without eliminating various Internet freedom.  Some said the Wire Act made online gambling illegal.  Others said it was unclear.  The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (the UIGEA) made it much more clear what was and was not lawful.  Online sports betting and online poker, not deemed to be games of skill, were out.  Daily Fantasy Sports were in, if certain criteria were met.

Daily Fantasy Sports are legal if:

    • “No fantasy or simulation sports team is based on the current membership of an actual team that is a member of an amateur or professional sports organization.”  (In English, this says you can’t simply get around sports wagering laws by putting together a “fantasy” team that mirrors a real team.)

 

    • “All prizes and awards offered to winning participants are established and made known to the participants in advance of the game or contest” (The prize must be set ahead of time.  This is why Daily Fantasy Sites need to know about how many entries they will get, otherwise they risk losing a lot by offering too much prize money for too few entrants.  As a player, watch for new sites offering large prizes.  There loss is your gain.)

 

      • [The Prize] value is not determined by the number of participants or the amount of any fees paid by those participants.”  (Adds to the point above.  Prizes don’t depend on entrants.)

 

    • “All winning outcomes reflect the relative knowledge and skill of the participants and are determined predominantly by accumulated statistical results of the performance of individuals (athletes in the case of sports events) in multiple real-world sporting or other events.”  (Daily fantasy sports outcomes are determined, at least in part, by the skill of the participant.  Results should be based on real outcomes.)

MLB and NFL

Major league baseball and the National Football League have been huge proponents of fantasy sports in general.  Though neither organization has daily fantasy, both heavily promote their own proprietary fantasy sports games.  Fantasy sports encourages interest in the game.  That produces revenue for the league.

Representatives of the NFL have stated, “We just want the fantasy industry, as a whole, to grow as big as possible.”  Presumably that means daily fantasy, as well.  Even if it doesn’t, the UIGEA created a clear carve out for fantasy sports.  Those fantasy sports mean literally billions of dollars for those with the power.  Therefore, anyone trying to declare daily fantasy illegal is going to have to walk a razor thin line.  Expect the answer to “Are daily fantasy sports legal?” to remain YES for the forseeable future.

State Specific

Throughout the country, you need to be 18 (the age of majority) to play daily fantasy sports.  In both Alabama and Nebraska you must 19 to play daily fantasy sports.

At this point, the systems to check both age and state of residency are not sufficient.  Most daily fantasy sports sites don’t really check either.  That said, it’s not right to violate the terms of a website and doing so can lead to problems later down the line.

Are Daily Fantasy Sports Legal?

With the exception of the caveats above, all daily fantasy sports are legal, if operated correctly.  There is no specific legality issues based on the different sports.  Daily fantasy football, basketball, golf, hockey, and certainly daily fantasy baseball are all legal.

What Sites Have Legal Daily Fantasy Games?

Our recommendations:

It’s not to know our government got this one right, even if it was almost by accident.  Compare online poker vs. daily fantasy sports… they seem to be either equally games of skill.  But poker’s loss is daily fantasy’s game.  Enjoy playing daily fantasy free of legality issues!