The Edges Fade in the World of Gambling and Fantasy Sports

TAGs: Alex Dreyfus, Fantasy Poker Manager, Global Poker Index, Lee Davy, World Poker Tour

The Edges Fade in the World of Gambling and Fantasy SportsIt was the 2011 World Series of Poker (WSOP) when I was introduced to the charming gambling game known as: Credit Card Roulette (CRC). At poker tournaments the players tend to congregate in groups when it comes to the rapid-fire motion that is the one-hour lunch break. They file a disorderly cue before ascending into some of the top quality eateries the world has to offer, order everything on the menu and eat like the The Walking Dead. When it comes to the bill only one person will pay, and that poor person is selected through the game of CRC. Everyone at the table takes a credit card from their wallet and passes it onto the nominated dealer. He or she then shuffles the cards under the table until told to stop. The dealer will then discard the top card and that person doesn’t have to pay for dinner. This routine continues until there is only one credit card left and the unlucky owner has to foot the bill.

When you spend enough time with poker players you start to realize that CRC is not only used to pay for food, but also to pay for pretty much anything anyone ever buys. It seems that when poker players step away from the table they cannot make a decision. Instead, decisions are made by the one poor soul who had his or her credit card pulled out of the pile last. But of course that’s not true. The real reason that poker players are always playing CRC is because they just love to gamble. A fact that no governing body on this bright blue planet will ever change.

Alexandre Dreyfus, the charming CEO of Zokay Entertainment, recently launched The Fantasy Poker Manager, a free social game powered by the Global Poker Index (GPI) and available on Facebook. It was met with an outstanding seal of approval as the world’s top poker players headed to twitter to laud its success.

“Absolutely loving GPI and Fantasy Poker,” Said Marvin Rettenmaier.

“Just saw the GPI Fantasy Poker app…looks pretty sick,” Said Chris Moorman.

The poker players are piling on the praise – not only because it gives them something to do whilst involved in their normal day-to-day job of folding cards – but it also allows them to gamble in the space of time they are not gambling. The initial Facebook offering doesn’t allow real money duels, but this doesn’t mean players aren’t gambling for real money, on the contrary, not only can players create teams to compete in events such as the European Poker Tour (EPT), WPT and WSOP, but it also has the facility to hold heads-up matches and even set up private leagues. If you think that a group of people who flip credit cards to settle $500 food bills don’t gamble when they play The Fantasy Poker Manager, then I hazard a guess that you still believe in the tooth fairy.

The initial release of The Fantasy Poker Manager has stirred up a lot of excitement in the poker circus, and it has even garnered the attention of the World Poker Tour (WPT), who has agreed a three-year deal that sees The Fantasy Poker Manager app recognized as the official fantasy game of the WPT. Neither the WPT nor Alex Dreyfus believes in the tooth fairy. Instead they believe in the commodity of cold hard cash. So how long will it take for The Fantasy Poker Manager to be offering a real money option? After all Fantasy Sports games are already hearing the sound of the cash tills opening and closing in the gambling phobic country of the United States.

When the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) came along and lopped off the heads of so many people, it missed the skulls belonging to fantasy sports head honchos, because despite the name, the UIGEA ranks it as a game of skill, because the winners are not determined by the outcome of a single game or the performance of a single player. It’s a real head bender to believe that poker is not seen as a game of skill and fantasy sports is. How can you base an intelligent argument in the face of such overriding unintelligence?

Even the major US sporting giants welcomed fantasy sports into the world of gambling with the NHL, NBA, MLB & NFL all supporting the creation and deployment of this incredibly popular pastime when the genre was created. But it seems all of that is about to change. Fantasy sports businesses such as FanDuel and Starstreet have turned the season long fantasy sports leagues into pint-sized thrill seeking alternatives. Now instead of betting that your fantasy team will win the league at the end of a season, you can choose a fantasy team to participate in a tournament that lasts as long as it takes for a real sporting game to finish. Suddenly, the long stretch has been replaced by instant gratification. Boredom and waiting has been replaced by the good old-fashioned buzz of gambling. But what is the difference? Does shortening the pick of a selection of players from one particular night mean it’s any more or less of a gamble if you were to pick a team that ran over an entire season? Well according to FanDuel’s website it makes no difference at all.

“Yes, Fantasy Sports is considered a game of skill and received a specific exemption from the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. FanDuel uses exactly same rules as any other season long fantasy sports game; the only difference is that our games last only a day. Thanks to fantasy sports being specifically excluded from laws affecting online betting, FanDuel is safe for players in the US and Canada.”

It’s seems a joke that in a country where Senators have to jump through burning hoops with their tackle hanging loose, just to get an online gambling bill passed as legit, we have people earning six figure sums making up pretend football teams to compete against other pretend football teams. During a recent soiree onto the FanDuel site, it declared that £1,368,723 was won by players in the previous seven days. Now that’s a decent chunk of change in anyone’s wallet.

So exactly how long will this continue before someone asks the blindingly obvious? Isn’t this just plain old gambling? When will fantasy sports be shoved to the sidelines to join the online poker companies who once dared cover their bodies in the stars and stripes? Or will people just shrug their shoulders believing that this is really no different from the stock exchanges that make the world revolve on its axis. Is the skillful art of selecting the price of corn any different from making a read in poker; and are any of them any different than selecting a fantasy baseball team that contains a wide variety of pitchers and hitters?

With the NHL opposing the idea of daily fantasy sites for real money, and the states of Illinois and New Jersey also questioning the legality; how long will it be before the other sporting giants, and the less than United States, start to impinge on the success of the likes of FanDuel and their supposed group of investors with $11 million waiting in the coffers? Good question, and one that Alex Dreyfus and The Fantasy Poker Manager would dearly like to know the answer to.

Now that’s enough of all that rubbish, I’m off to the patent office to rubber stamp my new game of skill, that isn’t a form of gambling. It’s called CRC and it must be skill because I never paid for a single meal during my time at the 2011 WSOP.


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