Fantasy Football: Better to Be Good Than Lucky

Author: Matt Huffman, Associate Member, University of Cincinnati Law Review

In 2014, nearly 37 million people will participate in a fantasy football league.[1] As the game’s popularity has grown, it has drawn unwanted attention from state officials questioning the legality of betting on fantasy football. While a small group of friends drafting fantasy football teams in a basement is unlikely to attract law enforcement scrutiny, fantasy football host sites[2] have become a billion dollar industry and are potentially subject to prosecution in states with strict gambling laws. Congress addressed fantasy football and determined that, under certain circumstances, betting on fantasy football is a legal activity.[3] However, some state gambling laws are stricter than federal law. Ohio law does not explicitly address the legality of fantasy football gambling, but based upon Ohio’s application of the “predominant factor test,” Ohio courts would likely determine that betting in fantasy football leagues, particularly those of shorter duration, would violate state gambling laws. Therefore, any host site (and its operators) accepting bids from Ohio or a state with similar gambling laws could be subject to criminal prosecution under state gambling laws.

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