I cannot believe the rash of Payout Fantasy Football sites that have popped up this season. Let me start off by saying I am NOT against Fantasy Football in the least – I am in 4 leagues this season, commissioning one, and two of which require “league dues” and thus a payoff to the champion.
However, I cannot fathom why THIS practice is perfectly legal under our current internet gaming standards, and online poker is still deemed against the law. Again, I am in no way condoning the banning of Online “money” Fantasy Football sites… but I am failing to see how this is any “better” than Pay Online Poker.
My fellow Online Poker advocates and I will often argue that poker, unlike any other casino game, is a game of skill rather than luck. Poker requires you to read your opponents. Poker requires you to be able to calculate odds in your head. Poker requires you to truly factor and mitigate any potential risks in a given hand.
The difference between Novice poker player and skilled ones is knowing “when to hold them” versus “when to fold them.” A rookie mistake is not seeing the potential to be beaten, or at least not knowing the odds are not in your favor, and playing for a “lucky” draw. The seasoned player will calculate these odds, attempt to determine his opponents hand, and make an informed decision based on the percentages, the way his opponent has previously reacted, and if the risk is worth the potential reward.
I will be the first to say that fantasy football DOES in fact require skill and attention to detail. You’ve got to run the numbers, see how your players are doing, look at the upcoming opponents, factor in injuries and suspensions… you have to be attentive and really know your stuff when it comes down to it.
HOWEVER, at the end of the day, you are “betting” on another person’s skill. It is no different than horse racing – you can have all the information you want, but anything can happen. As such, Poker and Fantasy Football are in completely different realms of what the government likes to call “gambling.” One is riskier, based on the talents of others, and is for the most part out of the control of the participant… while the other is based on the participant’s individual skill level, and is governed by mathematics, logic, and reason.
Yet, sadly, one of these is deemed illegal while the other is the latest internet trend.
I cannot help but feel the Poker Community as a whole is just the target. I can bet on horse races and sports games using legal loopholes, and now fantasy football online without upsetting the government… but if I simply want to play some cards, I’m branded as a law-breaker, or accused of funding terrorist regimes, or being some sort of closet addict who cannot function in society.
The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 was hastily tacked on to the SAFE Port Act – an act that is supposed to regulate the way the United States receives overseas foreign shipments (increased security, etc). Nobody wanted to shoot down an act that protects American borders, but pinning a completely unrelated act that shuts down online poker sites is no way to pass legislation. The single foundation for including poker in this Act is that it is called a “game of chance.” Somehow, Fantasy Football is not such a game, but Poker is. Our own government violated the terms against World Trade Organization by outlawing US access to offshore virtual casinos. As such, they were forced to pay out BILLIONS of dollars in compensation for the violation.
That makes me, as a US Online Poker Player feel pretty worthless in our government’s eyes.
We Poker Players must break this stigma and continue to unite and speak out to have our ban repealed. We are not lowlifes, nor criminals, nor uneducated gamblers trying to racketeer a quick buck. We simply seek the right to spend our hard-earned money on a form of entertainment that is near and dear to our hearts. We thrive in the spirit of competition. We seek the challenge of worthy opponents. We love the game our fathers and grandfathers taught us around the dining room table. All we want is the luxury to be able to enjoy it in the comfort of our own home on the days we don’t feel like making the drive to the closest casino.
For more information on what rights we continue to fight for, or what you can do to help, visit the Poker Players Alliance at http://www.theppa.org.