Is It Legal?

Fantasy football is enjoyed by more than 30 million people each year, especially during the NFL season, so the question of whether fantasy football betting is legal is a common question as money gets exchanged. Of course in many states in the US and in Canada any gambling is illegal so the question is more like, is it true, is fantasy football gambling?

Is Fantasy Football Considered Gambling?

It seemed like a really tough question for many people involved in the business of fantasy sports betting, because by definition if a bet is made then isn’t gambling involved? In 2006 the federal government carefully considered fantasy football gambling and if fantasy betting was to be outlawed or not in the Unlawful Internet Gambling and Enforcement Act (UIGEA). It must have been very clear that fantasy football was extremely popular over all of the United States and Canada and there was quite a lot of pressure on the lawmakers to consider this very carefully.

Is Fantasy Football a Game of Skill?

They came up with a few points that made it possible for fantasy football to be played legally and allow fantasy football bets to take place. It all comes down to the recognition that fantasy football is a game of skill. Fantasy football is not a game of chance, it actually is not a form of gambling on a totally unknown outcome because armed with the information gained a player could predict with reasonable assurance that their predicted outcome will happen, therefore it is not random.

Is Fantasy Football Legal?

The result of this act made fantasy sports gambling legal in most of the United States and Canada, however not in Arizona, Iowa, Montana, Arkansas, Washington and Louisiana in the United States and the province of Quebec in Canada.

Fantasy Football Gambling Sites Age Limits

Because there is an element of gambling, or at least putting money down onto a game, then there are statutory limitations as to who can play. This means that in the United States generally individuals must be 18 years of age and older to be able to play on these sites. In fact the restriction is higher in Alabama and Nebraska, and the players must be, a year older, at least 19 years of age.

Fantasy Football Betting Sites Follow the UIGEA

This makes fantasy sports sites like FanDuel legal as long as they follow the act carefully and not wander too far into making it a game of chance. Many sites are coming up with twists and variations to fantasy football all the time and each time they must be checked against the UIGEA to remain legal and therefore operate within the law. It is only too easy to change the rules a little too much or to invent a new fantasy football game that increases the probability and chance too much and all federal protection will get lost.

Why did the states of Arizona, Montana, Iowa, Louisiana and Washington Ban Fantasy Football Betting?

They have not banned fantasy football itself, only certain activities within it that can be considered gambling. Like collecting league fees or paying out winnings, anything that might mean the exchange of money in this fashion. It appears to be gambling and therefore is not allowed online.

Why did the state of Florida Ban Fantasy Football?!

This one does seem to be more extreme, the game itself has become illegal. Though there are questions on other sites on the Internet as to how they could possibly regulate this or indeed stop all of the fantasy football playing that appears to be happening anyway. Either this is a regulation that will continue with no effect, require massive investment to put a full stop to fantasy football playing or pulling back and coming more in line with other states and allowing it again.

What are the Rules that make Fantasy Football Legal?

The UIGEA groups a number of activities together in respect to these rules and these are any fantasy sports or simulation sports games, anything educational or team(s) contest that is based on a professional sports organization membership. If it is then and it meets the following conditions then it will be deemed legal:

  1. Prizes and Awards are known at the start of the game, not based on number of players.
  2. Results are based on skills determined through proper statistics
  3. The winner is not based on a real time result

What Prizes and Awards are allowed in Fantasy Football?

Quite often the prizes and awards are not cash based, they could in fact be a vacation, some desirable hardware or any number of popular and wanted goods. In some cases they are sometimes made in the form of a forfeit, for example many cases of tattoos being received as a result of a game. The important point is that it is not based on the number of players, as it would be in the case of some lottery, the prizes cannot rise as the number of players join in. The prizes and awards then are stated at the beginning no matter who plays. This make the fantasy football sites’ use of Guaranteed Prize Pools (GPP) more sensible now doesn’t it? In that no matter how many, or few, play the contest, the prizes will remain the same.

What Skills are there in Fantasy Football that makes it Legal?

There are many experts in fantasy football out there that will not be justified by this answer because there are many skills at play in ‘drafting’ and running a winning team. Essentially however, it is the statistical knowledge and application of it to determine how a sports player will perform in the team and scenario being played. You will find all the great fantasy football sites collaborating strongly with reputable and through sports statistics services to provide that information for their players.

The Future of Fantasy Football Legality

Fantasy football is here to stay and has grown consistently since the idea appeared in the 1960’s. With the UIGEA in place and a growing number of innovative and enthusiastic sites allowing it to be played much more easily then it will certainly keep on growing even more. Many love the game, many have indeed become millionaires simply because of playing it and the law will follow its growth ensuring it does not cross over into simply gambling.

It is expected that a number of the innovations will challenge the definitions of the law as the fantasy football sites get more creative, maybe we will see certain games excluded later. Hopefully however, the essence of fantasy football will remain unchallenged by the law, allowing generations that follow to enjoy this wonderful game – of skill.