Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and New England Patriots ownership group The Kraft Group are the only two NFL owners who also invest in the popular daily fantasy site DraftKings, and yesterday Jones spoke out in defence of his investment, and of the website.
From ESPN’s Darren Rovell:
“From my perspective, anything that follows the rules, that causes and creates more interest and more fan participation, I’m really for,” Jones said. “So I’m a supporter and that’s the rules that we’ll test — is put your money where your mouth is.”
DraftKings and rival site FanDuel have been under fire recently after the New York Times reported that a DraftKings employee had won nearly $US350,000 on FanDuel. Both companies have since banned all employees from playing daily fantasy, but the initial news has nevertheless caused a litany of lawsuits.
According to Rovell, a total of 18 lawsuits have been filed, mostly class actions against both sites. Both New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and New York federal prosecutor Preet Bahara have also begun to look into the practices of the sites. Both DraftKings and FanDuel maintain that they are “skill-based games” and not gambling, though this claim has been the subject of great debate and now litigation, too.
The NFL prohibits its franchises from investing in daily fantasy sites, but NFL owners are allowed to invest on their own. And that Kraft and Jones have invested makes total sense.
Take the Cowboys as an example: DraftKings and FanDuel drum up interest in the Cowboys from third-party fans who aren’t interested in the team but participate in daily fantasy. This demographic of fans may be interested in specific players either on the Cowboys or playing against them, which boosts ratings.
In other words, if the Cowboys are playing a game that’s not nationally televised against a weak opponent, the outcome of that game may not be important to the average fan with allegiances to neither team. But the individual stats of the players involved might be crucial to someone’s daily fantasy success, which, in turn, causes more people to watch.
And remember: more people are playing fantasy sports than ever before:
Until the legality of these websites is decided, don’t expect daily fantasy to go anywhere. It’s a surprise that more NFL owners aren’t jumping to invest.
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