Their most obvious appeal to fans is the lucrative cash prizes that they offer. In fact, FanDuel's prize payouts should surpass $1 billion this year. Unfortunately, if you are a National Collegiate Athletic Association athlete, the opportunity to earn cash from the booming fantasy sports industry is enticing. More to the point, it also prohibited by the NCAA, even if it is legal.
NCAA stakes out its own position on fantasy sports
In 2006, Congress passed a bill called the Unlawful Internet Gambling Act, which prohibits businesses from facilitating gambling via use of the Internet. For reasons best known to Congress, however, the law has a specific carve-out for daily fantasy sports that meet certain skill based requirements.
Undeterred by Congress’s approach, however, the NCAA has taken a different position. NCAA bylaws prohibit any form of gambling by coaches, athletes and staff members. In addition, the bylaws specifically oppose all forms of sports wagering by anyone. A letter sent by the NCAA to DraftKings and FanDuel last month stated that the daily fantasy sites undermine the integrity of sports contests and jeopardize the welfare of student-athletes. Last month, in Dallas, NCAA executive vice president of regulatory affairs Oliver Luck reminded college athletes and athletic directors that participating in fantasy leagues violates NCAA rules, could cause an athlete to sit out an entire season, and could permanently endanger NCAA eligibility.
College athletes do not seem fully aware of this. College football is booming in the daily fantasy sports market, growing at roughly the same rate as it is for NFL football. The opportunity to earn cash from one's own performance in the virtual game must be tempting to an NCAA athlete. A survey conducted in 2013 by the NCAA reports that an estimated 20 percent of NCAA athletes admit to participating in fantasy sports leagues and that more than 80 percent said they didn't realize that joining a paid fantasy league was an NCAA violation. As a result, the NCAA has asked FanDuel and DraftKings to stop offering fantasy games based on college sports. This includes a concerted effort to prohibit the airing of fantasy sports-based advertising during NCAA televised performances.
NCAA joins the force for change regarding fantasy sports law
The NCAA is making an effort to move away from fantasy sports, especially fantasy leagues based on college athletics. Initially, the push back against fantasy sports operations was a state focus. Fantasy sports operations are specifically prohibited in Arizona, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, Washington and now New York. In New Jersey lawmakers and professional sports leagues are currently butting heads about whether fantasy sports is a game of skill or chance. With the powerful NCAA defining fantasy sports as illegal gambling, operations such as FanDuel or DraftKings may have no choice but to stand down.