Fantasy becomes reality in sports gambling

Laws sometimes have unintended consequences – especially legislation that strives to govern behavior.

A series of stories by The Associated Press about daily fantasy sports and the gambling industry spotlights a result of the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act which was not a goal of the measure.

The act, as apparent in its title, was designed to stop Internet gambling. It also was written to allow fantasy sports leagues such as Rotisserie League Baseball.

What the legislators had in mind were groups of friends or coworkers forming innocent contests around professional sports. Through that loophole, a billion-dollar fantasy sports betting market has passed.

We’re not referring to seasonal leagues run by sports broadcasters for the entertainment of their audiences. No, this fantasy sports gambling involves daily and weekly games that allow players to bet thousands of dollars regularly.

The latest AP article states, “The games are pretty much unregulated, and they are exploding. They allow anyone over 18 to gamble on sports outcomes online, while traditional sports gambling is available online only in Nevada and, in some forms, in Delaware.”

Some legal experts favor reviewing the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act and tightening the exclusion for office-pool style fantasy sports leagues.

But, state gambling laws can take precedence over federal law. Thus, Ohio legislators could act to keep gambling where it belongs: in Ohio Lottery games and state-sanctioned casinos, of course.