Wednesday, October 7, 2015

You Bet!

It doesn't seem enough anymore for a football fan to go to the stadium, buy a ticket, a hot dog and a beer, or sit home in front of the TV, and watch a game for the enjoyment of it all.

No no! Now we have to make it more interesting, and nothing interests Americans more than being told they can make a million dollars while sitting on their hindquarters.

So that's why we have FanDuel and DraftKings and an unregulated, multi-billion dollar daily fantasy sports industry.  "Fantasy" is so much a nicer term than "betting," wouldn't you say?  And that makes it sound like your dreams alone about Xavier O'Hoolahan running for more yards this Sunday than Jim Bob McBurly can win you that cool million. No, you have to take some of the money you work all week for and wager it with these sports betting sites, and now, just four weeks into the NFL season, along comes a major scandal.

DraftKings admits that confidential data was leaked by an employee. And, how do you like this? That employee took this private information and won himself $350,000 with it at FanDuel.
What he took was information that “showed the prevalence of particular players across all submitted lineups” for the MillonaireMaker game that DraftKings runs. That's not public information, and since you and your buddy and everyone else who participates in this junk are members of the public, that would mean that you are being cheated by someone else having an edge over you.

It comes down to this:  if you know which players everyone else was putting on their fantasy teams, you could pick players that offer a higher payoff.  That is not fair.

DraftKings and FanDuel say they are aware of what's going on, but deny “misuse” of insider data, while promising to “review our internal controls.”

Because this is regarded as a game of skill and expertise (the ability to choose between this player and that and predict who will do better week to week) there is no government regulation, but there is something called the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, which claims to keep everything on the up and up with a voluntary “code of conduct."

There once was a showman named Phineas T. Barnum, who knew how to turn a dollar in more than a hundred ways.  Although he is often credited with saying "There's a sucker born every minute" he really did not say that.  What he did say was "Every crowd has a silver lining," and he knew how to separate people from their silver.  He ran a sideshow called "Barnum's American Museum," a popular attraction where people would pay to see little person Tom Thumb and other interesting things.  But he had a problem! People would pay to come in, and they'd hang around, keeping others from paying to come in.

So Barnum put up a sign on the exit door reading "This Way To The Egress" and all day long, people who believed the egress was like a platypus or some other exotic species, went through that door and found themselves on the outside looking in.

You can bet that Barnum is proud of those sports gambling people.

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