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A new daily fantasy sports game that lets users hone in on a single NFL playoff game has some gambling experts wondering if the contest inches the industry closer to the territory of sports betting that remains illegal in most of the United States.
The ”Showdown” variant offered by leading fantasy sports company DraftKings allows users to pick six athletes from two teams playing against each other in a real-life football game [url=http://www.dolphinsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-kalen-ballage-jersey]http://www.dolphinsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-kalen-ballage-jersey[/url] , racking up fantasy points based on stats like touchdowns, receptions and yards passing, rushing or receiving. That means users playing ”Showdown” this weekend can wager on performances in the Jaguars-Steelers game Sunday without having to wait for the Saints-Vikings game to play out several hours later.
The 2006 federal law that effectively banned online gambling but gave rise to daily fantasy sports requires daily fantasy contests to be based on the performances of athletes in ”multiple real-world” sporting events – not just single games. That detail is leading some advocates to question how DraftKings and regulators operate.
”This new game continues the industry trend of trying to get as close as possible to single game betting,” said Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling, which is neutral on legalized gambling but pushes for strong regulations and consumer protections.
Whyte said the games ”further blur the largely fictional line between daily fantasy sports and sports betting.”
DraftKings says the federal law – the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act – only applies if there’s an underlying violation of state gambling statutes first, and, so far, no state has objected to the competition.
State laws vary widely, but policymakers in 18 states responded to the industry’s popularity by legalizing and regulating daily fantasy sports. Many of those regulations were developed with heavy lobbying from DraftKings and other industry leaders. Daily fantasy companies largely avoid another 10 states where laws are worded in ways that make it more difficult to operate.
”This act is basically irrelevant. Everything defaults to state law now,” said Anthony Cabot, the company’s outside legal counsel, referring to the federal law that the industry has long cited for justifying its existence. ”If it’s not in violation of state law, then there’s no violation of the federal act. It’s a big red herring.”
The Boston-based company has also offered contests for other one-off events like NASCAR races and golf tournaments since 2015, without any complaints from regulators, he added.
Daniel Etna, a New York sports lawyer who closely follows the sports gambling industry, said the game appears to comply with most if not all new state laws approved in recent years to legalize and regulate daily fantasy sports.
”Contests like these push the very fine line between fantasy sports contests and general sports wagering,” said Jay McDaniel, deputy director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission. ”It does, however, fall within our law’s definition of a fantasy contest.”
In New York, the state Gaming Commission determined in December that the contest was legal because it’s based off how individual players perform in the game, and not the ”score, point spread or team’s performance,” said commission spokesman Brad Maione.
One key is that ”Showdown” requires users to pick at least one player from each team in a single game. So fans choosing from the Titans-Patriots game on Saturday can’t just stack their lineup with Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and other New England stars without any Tennessee players.
Jeffrey Ifrah, a Washington-based attorney specializing in online gambling, isn’t convinced there’s much appetite to enforce the laws, even if there was a conflict. Many of the new fantasy sports laws don’t even require states to approve new contests.
”None of these states really thought about this,” he said. ”They were given these laws to pass and they did it. There wasn’t a lot of legislative debate.”
The U.S. Supreme Court is also weighing a bid by New Jersey to overturn the sports betting ban in effect in all but four states (Delaware, Montana, Nevada and Oregon). A favorable ruling this year could make handwringing over daily fantasy sports moot.
”We would only look into a particular game if we received a complaint about it, which we have not in this case,” said Edward Grewach, general counsel for the Missouri Gaming Commission.
”We do not require review of every new game, so no, we have not looked into it [url=http://www.dolphinsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-durham-smythe-jersey]http://www.dolphinsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-durham-smythe-jersey[/url] ,” said Elaine Lidholm, a spokeswoman for Virginia’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which oversees the industry.
The single-game format could have implications beyond the early rounds of the NFL playoffs, where eight teams play in each of the first two weeks and four teams play during the conference championships. DraftKing’s chief rival, New York-based FanDuel, says it has ”exciting plans” for the Super Bowl, the most gambled on single game in the world.
If successful during the NFL playoffs, variants like ”Showdown” could extend into the regular season next year and even potentially be offered for single games in other sports.
Follow Philip Marcelo at
The Colorado Rockies have been getting contributions from the top to the bottom of their lineup.
Especially the bottom.
The Rockies got three RBIs from their No. 9 hitter for the second consecutive day, beating the host Seattle Mariners 5-1 on Saturday to extend their winning streak to five games.
They’ll go for the sweep Sunday afternoon at Safeco Field, where right-hander Antonio Senzatela (3-1, 4.44 ERA) takes on Seattle left-hander Wade LeBlanc (4-0, 3.19).
On Friday, catcher Tony Wolters had two triples and three RBIs from the ninth spot as the Rockies won 7-1. On Saturday, rookie right fielder Noel Cuevas had three hits, including a tiebreaking three-run homer in the seventh inning off Mariners ace James Paxton.
“That’s what happens when you go on a little run of wins. The contributions are coming from multiple guys, whether it’s bench players or the guy getting the start. … You’re going to get tired of hearing me say that it’s going to take 25 guys, but it’s truly the case,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “We can’t just rely on our main guys. This team is in a good spot. I like how we are kind of coming together with this group and we have to continue.”
The top three batters in the Rockies’ order — DJ LeMahieu, Charlie Blackmon and Nolan Arenado — combined to go 0-for-14 with seven strikeouts on Saturday. But the bottom three — Pat Valaika, Gerardo Parra and Cuevas — had seven of the team’s 10 hits.
“It’s a team sport; definitely today was the example,” Cuevas said. “The top of the order didn’t have the day that it wanted. We were able to get out with a ‘W,’ because the bottom of the order did their job.”
Cuevas’ homer, the second of his career, came one pitch after he failed to get down a squeeze bunt.
“I wasn’t happy at that moment that I missed it (the bunt) — we were trying to get that run in,” Cuevas said. “But after that, it was short memory. I missed it. So what? Next pitch, I can’t remember that I just missed the bunt. I need to be ready for that pitch. That was it.”
Right-hander German Marquez and left-hander Kyle Freeland gave up one solo home run apiece in the first two games of the series. Freeland was gone by the time Cuevas homered Saturday, making a winner of reliever Scott Oberg.
“The bullpen is doing a nice job, but it starts with starting pitching, keeping us in games and doing their job,” Black said. “We will be at it (Sunday) and hopefully Antonio (Senzatela) can do what the crew has done over the last 10 days.”
Mariners right fielder Mitch Haniger returned to the lineup Saturday after missing two games with a sprained right knee, but second baseman Dee Gordon was limited to pinch-hitting duties after tweaking his hip Friday night. And catcher Mike Zunino is on the 10-day disabled list with a bruised left ankle.
“We’re a little banged up right now,” said Mariners manager Scott Servais, whose team had won nine of 10 games entering the series. “It happens. It’s part of what you go through in a long season like this.”
Senzatela faced the Mariners once as a rookie last season, a 5-0 loss at Safeco Field. He went five innings and allowed four runs, five hits and two walks with seven strikeouts.
LeBlanc is 2-3 with a 6.53 ERA in nine career appearances (seven starts) against the Rockies.
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