Fantasy sports websites have become a huge phenomenon in the past few years. So far, fantasy sports are legally considered games of skill - not chance - if they can be won by successfully utilizing superior knowledge of the players involved. But then again, pay-to-play sites take a piece of every payout, about $35 average per player per month.
The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 included “carve out” language that clarified the legality of fantasy sports. By this definition, fantasy sports are not gambling.
FanDuel (2009) and Draftkings (2012) quickly became biggest online sites by using that carve-out language to create daily online fantasy sports games with cash prizes sometimes as high as $2 million. In 2017, the two accounted for about 90 percent of the $320 million in revenue generated by fantasy sports.
Already the NBA, NHL, and MLB invest in fantasy sports websites. More are coming.
So if fantasy sports is legally not gambling, can fantasy sports create addictive behaviors similar to what gambling can produce? Yes, people who get deeply into fantasy sports report the same kinds of time-consuming, compulsive, debt-inducing behavior as gambling in casinos. These fantasy fans talk about how their interest in sports was soon overwhelmed by their interest in the money.
For Christians, fantasy sports and its temptations are like anything else. If we conclude the activity is not sin as such, then we must assure our engagement is a right use of our time, talent, and treasure, for all of which God holds us accountable.
It’s possible to become addicted to just about anything. It gets back to the heart more than the activity. It’s God’s will that Christian submit themselves fully and only to the Spirit of God.
Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2019
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