The Fantasy Sports Gamble (2016)
About twenty years ago, a colleague of mine mentioned how much fun he had playing "fantasy baseball" with his son. You assembled your own fantasy team made up of real players. Maybe you even had a draft party with your buddies in your fantasy league. Then you waited a whole season for your results. Those days now seem impossibly quaint. The phenomenon of fantasy sports has been around for decades. Enter the internet and online money. Now fantasy sports, which encompasses every sport, and is vigorously supported by professional sports like the NFL, NBA, and the MLB (look at the advertisements), is not just daily instead of seasonal, it's instantaneous. You can bet whether Lebron James will make his next shot or whether Peyton Manning will complete his next pass. The target audience here is millennial males, age 18 to 35. Is this gambling? Should it be regulated? Is it even legal? PBS-Frontline, in conjunction with the New York Times, produced this one-hour documentary to ask these and related questions about the meteoric rise of a mammoth industry. The two online fantasy sports sites that account for 90% of the business loom large in this story — Fan Duel and Draft Kings. More ominous still is the even larger and darker world of online sports gambling that is offshore and run by organized crime, like Pinnacle Sports ($12 billion a year in betting). The CEO of Fan Duel rejects the charges of gambling; "we're just making sports more exciting." I watched this film on the Frontline website.