SPORTS GAMBLING AND FANTASIES

Mike Moffett

“Enough on fantasy football—let people play. Who cares?”
“Enough on fantasy football—let people play. Who cares?”

 by Mike Moffett
 Weirs Times Columnist

SPORTS GAMBLING AND FANTASIES

“We have 19 trillion dollars in debt, we have people out of work, we have ISIS and al Qaeda attacking us, and we’re talking about fantasy football? Enough on fantasy football—let people play. Who cares?” – New Jersey governor Chris Christie, Republican Presidential Debate, Oct. 28

Well, truth be told, a lot of people do care about fantasy football. The subject came up in this space recently when we expressed the hope that the government wouldn’t impose onerous regulations and taxes on the likes of new football fantasy enterprises like Draft Kings or Fan Duel.

My initial reaction to this weighty issue reflected my reaction to big government seeking to tax and regulate the internet. Just leave it alone. Let people play.

As Winston Churchill once said to British socialist leader Clemente Attlee (supposedly in a Parliament men’s room) “Every time you see something big you want to nationalize it!”

There IS a need for some measure of government regulation. But the proper extent of government’s regulatory role is the essence of the eternal debate between the Milton Friedman/Ronald Reagan camp and the Clement Attlee/Barack Obama camp.

Here in N.H. there is no regulation of sports betting because it’s illegal—or at least extralegal.

But should it be? Why doesn’t N.H. legalize sports betting the way Nevada did?

Consider thoughts recently offered by sports pundit Frank Deford on NPR.

“A part of the success of fantasy sports is that the U.S. law insanely prohibits legal, basic, single-game gambling, except in Nevada. According to Congress, betting on games is gambling, but betting on the players who play in the games is a skill. It’s madness, but it does steer law-abiding fans who gamble on sports to the fantasy side … Americans spend $300 billion on sports illegally each year, allowing the mob and bookies to keep what would be billions in tax money. If only American citizens were allowed to do what they are determined to do and what many are already doing on websites outside our borders. Our state governments started lotteries to take over the numbers rackets. They might as well elbow into the sports gambling business, too.”

N.H. led the way with the first state lottery in 1964. Our “Live Free or Die!” state should lead the way with sports gaming as well. It’s a different breed of cat than the casino gambling favored by Governor Hassan. State run sports betting could redirect money to state coffers and reduce pressure for broad-based taxes. And a handful of sports book locations would attract out-of-state visitors—and their money—to strategic Granite State locations. Put one in Dixville Notch. And in Salem. And in Hinsdale. And at the Loudon race track.

Why not reward fans who spend countless hours acquiring sports knowledge? Fans who understand statistics, history, personalities, momentum, and sports psychology! Fans who can use all this knowledge to identify an NFL “Lock-of-the-Week,” a sure bet that can’t miss—at least until the first couple turnovers!

Sports gaming is surely more interesting for bettors than sitting mindlessly in front of a slot machine depositing dollars and pulling levers.

We can do this, New Hampshire!

And then Chris Christie and company can focus on weightier issues than fantasy football.

Like our fantasy foreign policy!

Sports Quiz

What is the diameter of a basketball hoop in inches? (Answer follows)

Born Today …

That is to say, sports standouts born on Nov. 12 include American sportscaster Al Michaels (1944) and baseball slugger Sammy Sosa (1968).

Sportsquote

“The gambling known as business looks with austere disfavor upon the business known as gambling.” – Ambrose Bierce, American satirist

Sportsquiz Answer

18 inches.

Michael Moffett is a Professor of Sports Management for Plymouth State University and for NHTI-Concord. He recently co-authored the critically-acclaimed and award-winning “FAHIM SPEAKS: A Warrior-Actor’s Odyssey from Afghanistan to Hollywood and Back” (with the Marines)—which is available through Amazon.com. His e-mail address is mimoffett@comcast.net.