SPORTS
10/05/2015 03:26 pm ET Updated Jan 06, 2017

Here's The Difference Between Daily Fantasy Sports and Illegal Sports Betting

An attorney explains to HuffPost Live why one's legal and one isn't.

While sports gambling remains illegal in the United States, the lucrative market of daily fantasy betting is thriving. Despite lawmakers' calls to review the legality of fantasy football leagues, sites like DraftKings and FanDuel are pulling in millions in entry fees each season. 

So what exactly is the legal difference between putting your money on an entire game versus betting on the individual players you've chosen to draft? Sports and entertainment lawyer Jaia Thomas explained to HuffPost Live on Monday that courts claim the use of statistics and knowledge of players' strengths and weaknesses constitutes a "skill" that sets fantasy leagues apart from other types of gambling. She explained:

The courts make a distinction between games of skill and games of chance. Under the courts and the law, games of skill are legal. Games of chance are deemed illegal. So courts have argued that fantasy leagues are games of skill -- that it requires some kind of skill, some kind of knowledge base to put these teams together and go about playing in fantasy leagues -- whereas with traditional sports betting, the courts have argued those are more games of chance that don't require any skill or knowledge base.

But many sports fans see hypocrisy in that distinction. John Jastremski, a host at New York's WFAN Sports Radio network, told HuffPost Live's Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani that fantasy leagues involve just as much chance as betting on an entire game.

"I look at it, it's flat-out gambling," Jastremski said of fantasy betting. "People are putting in $100, $50, $5 [and] picking players once a week. As far as I'm concerned, that's the same as going out there, taking a ticket and putting $50 or $100 on the Green Bay Packers to cover a seven-point spread."

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