Is Playing Fantasy Football For Money Illegal?

The Paralegal Resource
September 4, 2013 — 1,695 views  
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The fantasy football league refers to a system of online gaming where players have to manage teams consisting of actual professional football players. While these players buy and sell players from each other to make a strong team of their own, there may be a problem when money is involved. The concept is that the number of points made by each professional football player in real life are added up to make a team’s points in the Fantasy Football League, counting touch downs, fouls and other things of the sort.

Legislation Involved in Fantasy Sport Gaming

Every football season there is a parallel season of fantasy football that takes place over the Internet. The issue here is that this form of gaming is in no way dissimilar to online gambling, because it involves money based on the performance of actual players elsewhere. This financial game has not been an issue because the federal law has nothing against fantasy sports under the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act passed in the year 2006, so long as they meet three main criteria.

Firstly, the prize value does not depend on the number of players or the fee paid to play the game. The second piece of criteria is that whatever amount is won is not based on luck, but is a show of how knowledgeable the online player is about the real players and the game itself. And thirdly, the outcome of the game cannot be based on the scores of actual players, rather on the performance of the ‘fantasy team’ alone. However, the issue comes up because certain state laws are stricter than the federal laws.

State Law vs Federal Law

Certain state laws have the power to disallow fantasy sports from being played, or have the authority to make these games punishable by law, if they are found to be even slightly connected to the performance of real teams. These states are sometimes called ‘chance states’ because they do not allow people earning or winning money in any form of gambling. Any game that is based on chance is therefore considered illegal. However, the argument for the game right now is that the NFL or the fantasy league is purely based on skill as it requires an excellent working knowledge of the performance of real players and other factors that may affect a team’s performance in real life. 

The Paralegal Resource