Weekly Fantasy Football Legal Issues

The short answer is Yes, it’s legal.  Check to see if it’s permitted in your particular state.  See weekly fantasy football sites for more info, or read the full analysis below.

Authority

Weekly fantasy football, as well as all properly run daily fantasy sports sites, are legal.  In fact, the site is always legal.  The only issue is whether playing daily fantasy sports for money is legal.

What is the UIGEA?

The authority making online daily fantasy football legal comes from the UIGEA or Uniform Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.  The law, passed in 2006, put measures into place designed to stop online gambling.  This included sports betting, online poker, and other games deemed illegal.  That same law specifically made daily fantasy sports legal.

The lawmakers probably didn’t set out to make daily fantasy sports legal.  But it was important to many entities to have fantasy sports remain legal.  I would imagine the NFL, MLB, NHL, and others lobbied very hard to have online fantasy sports for money remain legal.  Fantasy sports is big business.

A Game of Skill

There is language in the UIGEA that talks about fantasy sports being a game of skill.  I certainly think weekly fantasy football is a game of skill.  Research, information, and good judgement all play into winning at weekly fantasy football.  However, online lotteries and online horse racing were also made legal with the passage of the UIGEA.  Call me a cynic, but I think how powerful the industry and lobbyists were the determining factor.

Weekly Fantasy Football is Treated Like Other Daily Fantasy Sports

We’ve talked about the distinction between weekly fantasy football vs. daily fantasy football.  The difference is simply how many games are factored into the final score.  Legally, there is important language from the UIGEA that applies to the daily vs. weekly issue.

The Law

The UIGEA, among other things, states: “All winning outcomes reflect the relative knowledge and skill of the participants and are determined predominantly by accumulated statistical results of the performance of individuals (athletes in the case of sports events) in multiple real-world sporting or other events.”

The key word is “multiple.”  Weekly fantasy football is always completely legal, according to this language, because there are multiple games played.  Daily fantasy football can be illegal.  For example, you cannot have a single fantasy football contest based only on one Thursday night NFL game.  If there were two games, daily fantasy football would be okay because it fits the word “multiple.”  (Is it just coincidence there are often two Monday night football games?  Monday night daily fantasy football may have been on the minds of the schedule makers.)

What states do not permit weekly fantasy football?

Though you can play the game in every state, a few states preclude you from playing online fantasy sports for money.  This includes Louisiana, Vermont, Arizona, Iowa, Montana, and Maryland.  There is no rhyme or reason for why those states prohibit daily fantasy sports.

Do the sites monitor the legal issues?

Daily fantasy sports sites monitor the legal issues, but not strictly.  For example, upon sign-up, some fantasy sites ask for your address.  If you enter a state that does not permit fantasy sports for money, you cannot play for money.  If you enter another state, you can.  They do not check IP addresses, though they could.  The same is true of checking age.  However, I imagine one of two things will happen with location.  The sites will start checking IP addresses or the states will simply lift the restrictions.  As far as age, those restrictions will remain in place.  I foresee sites becoming stricter over time.

Where Should I Play?

Now that you know weekly fantasy football is legal, you need to know where to play weekly fantasy football.  Fanduel is an excellent option, as is DraftDay.  In truth, there are a number of sites that are worthy of your time and attention.  See weekly fantasy football site reviews for more in-depth info.  Whatever you do, enjoy it!  It’s a great game.  No more will injuries kill your fantasy team for an entire season.  No more will your favorite guy never be on your squad because you just couldn’t take him that high.