Are One-Week Fantasy Leagues Fair?

Arun Arunachalam, Staff Writer

If you are a sports fan, chances are you have heard of sites such as FanDuel and DraftKings. They have advertisements all over TV and iPhone apps, and they have come up out of nowhere, seemingly supplanting year-long fantasy leagues. The appeal behind these sites is in its brevity. FanDuel and DraftKings both have systems similar to other fantasy sports such as picking and a lineup that scores points based on their real life performance, but the major difference is that you can pick a different lineup each week. With this feature, you have a better chance of winning money, whereas in in normal fantasy sports, if you draft a bad lineup, you are stuck with it for the rest of the season. These fantasy giants seem indestructible, especially considering the amount of support it has from the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball and the National Football League.

But in recent events, FanDuel and DraftKings have been under fire in a cheating scandal involving one of their own employees, which has fantasy players crying foul. When a player sets up and locks a lineup on either site, the employees have full access to it, which lets them see the most popular players in all of the lineups. According to, DraftKings employee Ethan Haskell won $350,000 on FanDuel and accidently leaked confidential information regarding the lineups chosen that week, resulting in an investigation by DraftKings to find out if he had used inside information to unfairly win. After their investigation, they concluded that Haskell could not have looked at the data, because he set his lineup before he could have access to it, but this still left people uneasy. If employees had access to the information, what’s stopping them from using it? Surprisingly, both DraftKings and FanDuel had policies that allowed their employees to play on each other’s sites, but quickly banned it after the scandal leaked.

But the most controversial aspect of these sites is if they are even legal. According to the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, businesses are prohibited “from knowingly accepting payments in connection with the participation of another person in a bet or wager that involves the use of the Internet and that is unlawful under any federal or state law.” Supporters of DraftKings and FanDuel argue that it is a “game of skill” and it takes skill and  talent to understand how to properly set up the best possible lineup. However many others see their argument as a loophole and that those sites should be shut down. Despite this, one-week fantasy leagues are well received, with every state but Montana allowing them to operate.

The NBA, MLB, NFL and major companies such as Time Warner Cable and Fox have stakes in the rapidly growing industry despite the red flags, making it a mainstay in the sports world.