Fantasy Sports

States Play Gambling Monopoly

Governments want to ban FanDuel and DraftKings, yet the lotteries they operate are among the worst ripoffs in gambling.


New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) did New York a huge favor earlier this month when he declared fantasy sports leagues a form of illegal gambling and ordered two of their principal organizers, DraftKings and FanDuel, to stop taking bets from state residents. Fantasy leagues are not games of skill, Schneiderman decreed, but rather games of chance, and therefore illegal under state law. And gambling is illegal for good reason: It can lead to addiction and all other sorts of social ills.

What a relief. From now on, New Yorkers will not be tempted by the deceitful lure of an easy buck, unless of course they choose to play New York's state lottery, whose motto is "Hey, You Never Know." Actually, you do know. The chances of winning the Lotto start at 48-to-1 for matching three numbers. The chance of matching all six numbers is more than 45 million to one.

New Yorkers also could wager their bottom dollars at one of the nearly two dozen casinos in the state, from the Akwesane Mohawk casino in Franklin County to the Yellow Brick Road casino in Chittenango, perhaps with a stop at the Resorts World Casino in New York City along the way.

Still, as The New York Times put it in an editorial praising Schneiderman's move, his office said fantasy sports games "are dangerous because they can be played rapidly and involve big prizes, and because of the perception that anybody can win." Boy, that's the polar opposite of lotteries and slot machines, isn't it?

Virginia, too, has a schizoid approach to gambling.

Come January, State Sen. Louise Lucas (D) will introduce legislation in the General Assembly to permit casino gambling in certain localities. Those localities must be places where at least 40 percent of the property is exempt from local real-estate taxes. In Portsmouth, which Lucas represents, 42 percent of the land is exempt. The bill would impose a 20 percent tax on gross receipts and dedicate the proceeds to a variety of transportation projects.

If past is prologue, the bill won't even get out of committee. A similar measure died this past February in the Senate's General Laws committee. In fact, Lucas has been trying to bring casino gambling to the area for years, without success. Similar efforts to bring riverboat gambling to Norfolk in the 1990s went nowhere as well.

What's more, efforts by Virginia's Indian tribes to gain federal recognition have been long delayed over concerns that greater tribal sovereignty might lead to casinos in Virginia. And among those most fiercely opposed to recognition for that reason: MGM, which is shelling out $1.2 billion for a gambling megaplex in Maryland and "wants to protect its investment from potential competition," as the Washington Post noted in April. Convenience-store owners, worried that tribes might sell gasoline on tribal lands, have opposed recognition for analagous reasons.

Gambling in Virginia is a case study in the bootleggers-and-baptists phenomenon—literally. The Virginia Assembly of Independent Baptists has fought Lucas' casino bills in the past, as has the Family Foundation of Virginia. The unholy alliance between self-seeking interests from out of state and Puritanical busybodies from in-state has kept casinos from invading the Old Dominion. Anti-gambling sentiment also helped shut down the Internet wagering cafes that popped up around the state a few years ago before the General Assembly decreed them verboten.

But Virginia still allows pari-mutuel betting on horse races—horse-racing is a noble tradition, suh—as well as off-track betting, even though its sole track, Colonial Downs, has suffered a series of setbacks and is now in intensive care, where prospects are looking grim.

With no casinos, no riverboat gambling, and no horse racing in the immediate future, Virginians who want to wager are left with few options outside the state Lottery. Like New York's, it offers a wide array of gambling options, but the odds are heavily stacked in the house's favor. The state enjoyed sales of $1.8 billion last year, and kept 29 percent of the money wagered. That's considerably higher than the typical "hold percentage" in a Las Vegas casino. And yet even though the Virginia Lottery website has a page warning about scams, it also has a page that will generate "lucky numbers" for you. (The text says "it's totally random and just for fun.") Guess which of those two page's links is bigger.

Of course, if you want to go really big-time, you can always gamble away your life savings in the stock market. Or real estate. Or multi-level marketing. Or one of the numerous get-rich-quick schemes advertised on late-night TV. You can even take all your money out of the bank in cash and burn it in a trash barrel, if you want. You can throw it down the sewer, too. Just don't throw it away in a casino, or something else that competes directly with the Lottery.

Except DraftKings and FanDuel. Those are still legal in Virginia—for now.

This article originally appeared at the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

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  1. State lotteries are the perfect government scam. But at least we can say they are voluntary, in before asking ourselves whether the constitution permits the government to run a state lottery in the first place.

    1. My dad once told me, ” The lottery is nothing more than a voluntary tax”. He never gambled, thus he saw the lottery for what it was. If he were alive today, he would be aghast at what we have evolved into.

  2. The state lotto in Illinois pay winners over $800 in IOUs.

    1. But if you owe them money, they want it yesterday.

  3. The government run lottery’s are just us ripping off ourselves…err, consumers, together.

    1. Oh, and that piece of shit Goodell came out the other day and basically threw Draftkings and FanDuel under the bus saying they support strong consumer protections and that fantasy football isn’t about making money. So those leagues are different than the ones organized by the league and its partners which are just for fun and the right way of doing it.

      Guy is absolute garbage.

      1. Well, obviously. The NFL didn’t get their cut.

        It’s cronies all the way down.

  4. Look at how NY state ran that off track betting monstrosity. They lost money and finally closed up…..after years of loosing money. The states want money, and power. They take half of someone’s lottery winnings through taxes. So really, folks are enriching the state, while having a slim chance at winning something.

    Gambling sites have to be efficient, or else they close down. Imagine a site that says, after you win, we will take half of your winnings. They would go out of business. Folks would choose a place where if they win, they win everything. Many will flock to the competitor that has the best odds as well.

  5. You forgot South Carolina. All gaming is illegal here other than the state lottery (and reservation casinos). But we go further in our pursuit of moral purity, here any game using dice or cards is actually illegal including monopoly and Old Maid without regard to whether money is being wagered.

    1. Wait. Monopoly is actually illegal?

  6. New Yorkers also could wager their bottom dollars at one of the nearly two dozen casinos in the state, from the Akwesane Mohawk casino in Franklin County to the Yellow Brick Road casino in Chittenango, perhaps with a stop at the Resorts World Casino in New York City along the way.

    That’s different. Those casinos are doubtlessly run by generous donors of the political establishment, and by their very nature, if they give to the Democrats, they must have the best interest of the people at heart!

  7. As soon as you spouted off the nanny-state BS about gambling being illegal for a good reason I stopped reading.

    What adults do of their own free will that doesn’t harm others is not the business of anyone, most particularly the government. Legislating morality is for idiots.

    1. I thought for a moment he was saying that too. Then I realized it was simply a continuation of his paraphrase of what Schneiderman was saying. Maybe the writing could have been a little clearer, but a quick glance at the second paragraph makes it clear what was actually being said.

  8. Buying a state lottery ticket should be viewed as a donation to the state treasury without any expectation or hope of return. (If you do happen to win, so much the better.)

  9. Does Do as I or We Say, Not As I or We Do ring familiar? It should, for it appears to be an admonition most frequently encountered in dealings with government, one notes, with sadness.

  10. This is not too surprising–states want to become monopolies in all areas of our lives, not just in gambling.

    Monopoly on force.
    Monopoly in electricity.
    Monopoly in oil.
    Monopoly in money/currency.
    Monopoly in food.
    Monopoly in real estate.
    Monopoly in labor.
    Monopoly in culture (social power/social force).
    and so on.

  11. I just got paid $6784 working off my laptop this month. And if you think that’s cool, my divorced friend has twin toddlers and made over $9k her first month. It feels so good making so much money when other people have to work for so much less. This is what I do,


  12. State lotteries & scratch tickets are the biggest ripoffs in the USA today.
    The poor & the stupid throw their money away.The states are just jealous because they
    are not getting their cut.

    1. This. In Montana they have a lottery fantasy football game, I play because I like fantasy football. They sell 15 to 1800 tickets a week at 5 bucks a pop and keep 20 some percent. If you use basic math, their rake is 1500 to 2grand a week. Add in a few playoff weeks and the rake is around 40 grand a year. Not enough to pay for 1 state employee’s salary and bennies (even though state salaries are less insane here).Yes these sites are banned here.

      Ironically, the state game doesn’t use a salary cap, which makes their game less of a skill contest than the daily fantasy games. Nice to have a monopoly. It could be worse. It could be like WA or CA where the state gives tribes a monopoly and tens of millions flow into campaign coffers of team Blue pols.

      Just a little tale of rent seeking, hardly the worst around.

  13. Google pay 97$ per hour my last pay check was $8500 working 1o hours a week online. My younger brother friend has been averaging 12k for months now and he works about 22 hours a week. I cant believe how easy it was once I tried it out.
    This is wha- I do…… ??????

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