• Peter Alson

Could a politician have actually done something sensible?

Updated: Dec 28, 2020

The news out of Massachusetts today is that the Attorney General, Maura Healey, is proposing that daily fantasy sports be regulated not shut down. What a novel idea! Clearly New York AG Eric Schneiderman, who’s trying to run DraftKings and FanDuel right out of town, didn’t get the memo.

As The New York Times’ Joe Drape put it, Ms. Healey’s approach was “more tempered” than Mr. Schneiderman’s. I’ll put it another way: Mr. Schneiderman is an idiot and Ms. Healey, a former professional basketball player, is a forward thinker with her eye on the ball.

What she’s proposing is what’s called in the negotiation business “a win-win.” DraftKings and FanDuel get to stay in business, her state makes mondo tax revenue off of them, and the people who want to play daily fantasy sports get to keep playing them.

To me, that sounds like a no-brainer, and I applaud Ms. Healey for showing common sense. In America showing common sense gets you branded “forward thinking” by some, and a “commie” by others.

What exactly has Ms. Healey proposed? Well, that the age of participation be raised from 18 to 21; that the sites not be allowed to advertise or promote at school or college campuses or school sporting events; that the performances of athletes from schools and college sports can not be used for fantasy contests; that professional athletes, agents and team employees are prohibited from playing or taking part in contests; and that employees of the sites are forbidden from playing or taking part.

Additionally, Ms. Healey wants to impose restrictions on the amount of money participants can deposit in their accounts each month, limiting it to $1000 unless they show that they can sustain greater losses than that.

Most important, in my view, is that after pointing out that right now 2% of the players win 90% of the prize money, Ms. Healey has demanded a greater level of transparency, with the professional fantasy sports players identified, so that the amateur players know who they’re up against. But beyond that, that there be contests in which the pros are excluded from playing–“beginner” contests, as it were.

These are all reasonable and good ideas, ideas that can no doubt be further refined to make DFS more transparent and fair to everyone. Not surprisingly, both DraftKings and FanDuel are applauding Ms. Healey’s approach.

So am I.

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