Daily Fantasy Sports--Gambling or Not?

Apr 6, 2016

Iowa is one of only a handful of states where it isn't legal to cash out an online fantasy sports bet. That could change this legislative session. Rep. Jake Highfill, a Republican from Johnston, introduced legislation that would legalize cash prizes for participating in the games online. Rep. Guy Vander Linden of Oskaloosa, says that type of gaming needs regulation.

"Last year the Senate passed a bill that would have allowed fantasy sports in a very big way in Iowa. That bill came over to the house and didn't go any further, probably because we ran out of time. Primarily, those of us in the House that are supporting this legislation are interested in making sure we have a good handle on control of it."

Vander Linden says that, while there may be skill involved, fantasy sports is still clearly gambling. Others in the industry argue the amount of skill required takes it out of the gambling realm. Ed Miller is a game design consultant in Las Vegas.

"This is definitely a game you can be good at," he says. "The skill of the game is sort of multi-layers of complexity. There's the ability to predict which players are going to be good, and then there's another layer of the game which is, it actually is to your benefit if you can predict how the other players of the game will tend to play."

The question of whether its a game of skill or chance plays into everything from whether it should be taxed the same as casinos to concerns over its addictive properties. On this River to River, host Ben Kieffer and Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell talk with Rep. Vander Linden and Ed Miller. Rep. Dan Kelley, a Democrat from Newton, Eric Preuss, manager of Iowa's gambling treatment program, and Peter Schoenke, chairman of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, also join the conversation.