MINNEAPOLIS — As the legality of daily fantasy sports leagues like FanDuel and DraftKings faces increased scrutiny from courts in Florida and New York, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell sought to draw a line between those businesses and the season-long fantasy football leagues he says the NFL supports.
Goodell said the NFL sees a “big distinction” between daily fantasy sports and season-long leagues, which he said are “an opportunity to enjoy the game.” Fantasy football, Goodell said, is “not about making money.
“Season-long fantasy — many people probably play here in this room — it’s for fun,” Goodell said during a fan forum in Minneapolis on Sunday morning. “It’s social. It’s an opportunity to enjoy the game, and we encourage our kids to do it. They have clubs in school. It’s a way to connect people, and we think that’s a wonderful way. Daily fantasy’s taken a little different approach. We want to make sure we understand how it would be done. We love people who are going to engage in the game and have fun with it. It’s not about making money. It’s about enjoying the game and enjoying the team, enjoying the players you pick.”
The NFL has maintained a public opposition to gambling, though companies owned by Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft have invested in daily fantasy sports leagues. A nationwide class-action suit filed in the Southern District of Florida on Saturday charged 40 individuals with negligence, breach of contract and unjust enrichment, along with violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, which targets organized crime. In addition to FanDuel and DraftKings, media companies, banks, credit cards and successful players in the leagues were named as defendants. The lawsuit alleges daily fantasy sports leagues “saturate television, particularly commercials airing during sporting events, with seductive advertising.”
New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman sent cease-and-desist letters to the two daily fantasy sports companies on Nov. 10, ordering them to stop accepting players from the state.
On Sunday, Goodell said he was not concerned with the idea that bookies could exert an unfair influence over NFL players in an attempt to profit in daily fantasy sports leagues, but said a lack of oversight could make those leagues unsafe for fans.
“Daily fantasy is different, in the sense that it’s essentially, the player picks whatever players they want,” Goodell said. “They do that independently, and it’s a matchup of those players. It really would be difficult to have that remote influence we are worried about than gambling in general. So I’m less troubled on that front. But I also want to make sure that, specifically our fans, when you play something, I want to make sure there are proper consumer protections. That’s important for us.”