On this week’s Last Week Tonight, John Oliver called out daily fantasy sports sites DraftKings and FanDuel for refusing to admit their product is gambling. These daily fantasy games, which have become popular over the last few years for their quick turnaround and lack of season-long commitment, are “the same as season long fantasy the way a nice mug of tea is the same as a nice baggy of heroin: both give you a lovely warm feeling; one’s a little more intense,” explains Oliver. The ads are so ubiquitous, one runs every 90 seconds, and networks like TimeWarner and ESPN have been quick to invest in DraftKings and FanDuel. Even sports leagues themselves have taken a stake in the companies. Oliver points out that leagues and networks like the idea of daily fantasy, because it’s “the only thing that’s going to make people want to watch the Bucs and the Jaguars face off on a rainy Thursday night.” It is odd to see pro sports in league with sites that look so much like gambling, when the leagues have been against gambling for so long, but DraftKings and FanDuel have convinced their consumers that they are not gambling sites. State regulators, however, are beginning to see the truth.
The Gaming Control Board of Nevada recently ruled daily fantasy is gambling, and just this week, the New York Attorney General classified daily sports as illegal gambling. But both companies insist they are legal, and FanDuel calls itself “an entertainment product.” “You know what else is an entertainment product?” asks Oliver, “Gambling.” The two companies continue to use legal loopholes to get around gambling regulations, including insisting daily fantasy is a game of skill, not chance. The problem is that daily fantasy is a game of skill in the same way poker is, and amateurs are losing big money to “numbers nerds” and statisticians who use advanced algorithms to predict outcomes. Oliver says gambling is regulated to protect people from losing money in situations like this, and if DraftKings and FanDuel are going to bombard us with ads, they should be straightforward. So, he offers a new ad, featuring Seth Rogen, Adam Pally, Martin Starr, Kathryn Hahn, and others, that reveals the truth behind the pervasive fantasy ads.
Watch The Daily Show‘s take on daily fantasy sports from last month here.