• Peter Alson

Why I’m going after Eric Schneiderman

Updated: Dec 28, 2020

I hadn’t been planning to write on this topic again, especially not so soon after yesterday’s entry (so apologies to those readers who have no interest), but after reading an editorial entitled “Why I went after the fantasy sites” by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in today’s Daily News, I’m finding it impossible to restrain myself.

He’s just such a self-righteous annoying dope that I feel compelled to respond. His editorial is so full of confused contradictory logic and misunderstanding that it makes me want to scream. Let’s take a look at some of his points:

  • He writes that “Daily  fantasy sports is much closer to online poker than it is to traditional fantasy sports.” Yes, that’s actually a true statement–and telling because online poker should be legal too. In fact, I naively believed at one point that the acceptance of DFS would pave the way for renewed acceptance of online poker.

  • He writes, “FanDuel and DraftKings have made the argument over and over-including yesterday in this paper–that they run ‘games of skill’ and are therefore legal.This is nonsense. New York law prohibits sports wagering–betting money on a future event outside of the gambler’s control–regardless of the skill involved. Yet this provision of the law is deliberately ignored by both FanDuel and DraftKings.” Okay, I’m not sure how it’s worded in the statute, Eric, but I’m already starting to see a problem here, in terms of what precisely is meant by skill. And I’m also unclear on why, if ‘betting money on a future event outside of the gambler’s control’ is illegal, how it is that you are not also shutting down the stock market. I have invested in many stocks, Eric, and I have won some and lost some, but I have never ever been in control of the outcome. Do you know anyone who is? If so, you better prosecute them because they’re undoubtedly doing something crooked.

  • He then writes, “Consider the final moments of a football game where the outcome has been decided and the winning quarterback takes a knee to run out the clock and assure victory. Let’s say it’s Eli Manning and the Giants are defeating the Eagles or the Cowboys. Statistically, this play would cost the quarterback one yard–a yard that could make the difference between someone on DraftKings or FanDuel winning or losing tens of thousands of dollars. What did that have to do with the bettor’s skill? It’s the classic risk involved in sports betting.” Aside from the utter stupidity and randomness of this example, how precisely is it different from any arbitrary event that affects any investment? Shit happens, Eric. That doesn’t mean you made a bad investment. To make an analogy, what happens when you invest in sugar futures and some unexpected weather catastrophe affects the price in a way you couldn’t have predicted? Isn’t that the classic risk of betting on options?

  • Schneiderman then goes on to write, “Like online poker, daily fantasy sports relies on a steady stream of ‘minnows’ to feed the ‘sharks.’ That’s why more than 89% of one site’s players are losers, despite seemingly endless TV ads promising easy money.” Wow, I don’t even know where to start with this. On the one hand, in the previous paragraph, you were arguing against skill, now you are saying that the skilled ‘sharks’ are devouring the unskilled ‘minnows.’ Is it skill or luck, Eric? You can’t have it both ways. Oh, and by the way, how is this any different than the stock market, where sharks and minnows pretty much defines the way it operates. Except when the sharks fuck up big time, crash the market, and then the rest of us, who aren’t even IN the game, have to pony up and bail them out.

Schneiderman’s editorial really typifies the tortured thinking and rationalization that justifies outlawing some forms of gambling and not others. Schneiderman defends what he’s doing on the basis that he’s just upholding the law, but if he didn’t feel that the law is full of awkward contradictions, he wouldn’t have felt compelled to write this editorial with it’s grasping and tortured logic. My advice? Next time you enforce a dumb law just keep your mouth shut. It may not improve your standing in my eyes but at least it’ll be less infuriatingly stupid.

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