PGNO is Ohio's sole advocacy organization exclusively focused on providing support, resources, and consumer protections for problem gamblers and their families. 

The Policy and Advocacy committee is a standing committee with the goals of advancing local, state and nationwide legislation, policy and funding that enhance consumer protections for problem gamblers and their families as well as strengthen Ohio's problem gambling service infrastructure. PGNO has adopted the guidelines as provided by the National Council of Problem Gambling (NCPG).

Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS)

Background: Fantasy sports are contests in which participants assemble imaginary teams comprised of real players from professional sports and compete based on the statistical performance of the real players. Traditional fantasy sports leagues are season- long, but recently contests have been offered that are as short as one day. Both free and fee-based contests are available and prizes have topped $1 million. Partners and investors in companies offering fantasy sports contests include sports leagues, professional teams and their owners, as well as large public and private companies. Of the estimated 55 million fantasy sports participants in 2015 approximately 16 million competed in daily fantasy contests, with entry fees topping $2.5 billion.

Legal: While the federal Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA) provides a limited exemption for some fantasy sports contests, other Federal and state gambling laws may still apply. As of today, 12 states have declared fantasy sports wagering meet their definitions of gambling and are therefore prohibited unless legalized. Currently, only New Jersey has enacted fantasy sports regulations, but no operators have applied. NCPG does not take a position on whether fantasy sports contests are, or should be, legal.

Skill: While there is skill involved in playing fantasy sports contests, the outcome includes significant chance due to highly-variable player performance in real-world situations. Most gambling (blackjack, poker, horse racing, etc.) involves skill and chance as well. Fantasy sports contests that include an entry fee, chance and monetary prizes meet practical definitions of gambling.

Addiction: Our concerns are based on 5 major areas:

  • Player Demographics: Fantasy Sports players are frequently described as predominantly young, male, sports enthusiasts and likely to gamble. Each of these groups is known to be at higher risk for gambling addiction.
  • Game Characteristics: Game characteristics associated with higher risk for addiction are high frequency of contests, large number of entries per contest, high entry fees, larger and more frequent payouts.
  • Scientific Research: The few published studies to date show that daily fantasy sports players are more likely to have gambling problems than non-players.
    • A 2012 study of 23,000 college student athletes (when DFS was in its infancy) reported that Fantasy Sports players have a significantly higher prevalence of gambling problems. Overall, approximately 59% of college student athletes participated in a free fantasy league, with 21% participating in a fantasy league requiring an entry fee.
      • Of significant importance is that a greater proportion of males reporting gambling-related problems (48%) vs. non-problem gamblers (18%) indicated playing fantasy sports for money. Marchica, L. & Derevensky, J. (in press). Fantasy sports: A growing concern among college student-athletes. International Journal of Mental Health & Addiction
    • A study of 1,556 college students found males who played fantasy sports for money, and females who played fantasy sports for money or not, were more likely to experience gambling-related problems. Martin, R. & Nelson, S. Fantasy Sports, Real Problems, Addictive Behaviors (2014)
  • Recovery: Gamblers Anonymous, the self-help fellowship for problem gamblers, has added fantasy sports to the list of activities it defines as gambling and urges individuals in recovery to avoid due to the risk of triggering a gambling addiction.
  • Cases: Actual cases of fantasy sports players with severe gambling problems stemming from their daily fantasy participation have been documented by gambling counselors and reported in national media, including:
    • Jaywas in recovery from sports betting when he started playing DFS and lost over $50,000. The Hot New Form of Fantasy Sports Is Probably Addictive, Potentially Illegal And Completely Unregulated, Think Progress May 7, 2015

    • Josh Adams lost $20,000 in daily fantasy games and tens of thousands more in illegal sports bets. His life, consumed by gambling, disintegrated to where he considered suicide.” For Addicts, Fantasy Sites Can Lead to A Ruinous Path, New York Times, November 22, 2015

    • “Paul” lost “between $60,000 to $65,000...mostly on credit cards.” The Fantasy Sports Gamble, PBS Frontline, February x 2016

Symptoms: Fantasy sports players who become preoccupied, are unable to stick to limits of time and money and therefore suffer harm to their emotional or financial health, are likely to meet gambling addiction criteria.

  • Prevalence of Addiction: If DFS playersrates of gambling addiction are the same as the general population (which is unlikely as argued above), an estimated 2% or 320,000 of the 16 million people would likely meet criteria for gambling problems in a given year.

  • State Legislation: The majority of bills introduced at the state level to “regulate” fantasy sports include little if any consumer protection features.

Therefore, PGNO believes:

  • Fantasy sports contest participants are at higher risk relative to the general public to develop gambling problems for five major reasons: demographics of players, characteristics of the contests, published scientific research, guidance from Gamblers Anonymous and our direct experience with actual clinical cases.

  • Operators, regulators and legislators must incorporate consumer protection into fantasy sports operations. The NCPG adopted their Resolution on Fantasy Sports on October 8, 2015, Fantasy Sports Consumer Protection Guidelines on December 4, 2015 and developed the CARE Responsible Play Guidelines for Fantasy Sports Legislation in February 2016 to provide guidance to all stakeholders.

  • Adequate consumer protection at a minimum includes consumer protection, age & ID verification, responsible play and self-exclusion programs as well as funds to support gambling addiction prevention and treatment services.

  • About NCPG: Our mission is to lead state and national stakeholders in the development of comprehensive policies and programs for all those affected by problem gambling. NCPG is neither for nor against legalized gambling. 

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