A.G. Schneiderman on why he’s hunting Daily Fantasy Sports

February 9, 2016

eric-schneiderman-daily-fantasy-sportsNew York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has been after daily fantasy sports (DFS), labeling them “illegal gambling” and launching a state lawsuit against the activity. Just recently, Schneiderman did an interview with Frontline on exactly why he’s so adamantly against daily fantasy sports. And much of his state’s investigation has to do with insider information that DraftKings/FanDuel employees had access to.

“I think DraftKings and FanDuel spent something like $31 million in the first week of the NFL season alone,” Schneiderman said. “Then the stories started to break about employees of these companies using non-public information to get a competitive advantage to win money on other sites. At that point, we launched our investigation.”

One argument that’s been commonly trotted out in defense of DFS is that it’s not actually gambling. However, Schneiderman certainly disagrees with this and refuses to buy into the skill-game argument.

“It’s clear to us that what they’re doing is gambling, and there are people who have gambling addiction problems,” Schneiderman explained. “And for them to contend that it’s not gambling, you can almost lure people who know they have gambling addiction problems into getting back involved in betting. And gambling addiction experts have come forward to say this is a particularly pernicious form of gambling.”

As many poker players know, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006 made it illegal for financial institutions to accept transactions related to online gambling. Season-long fantasy sports leagues were excluded from this, and DFS sites have tried to argue that they too belong under this umbrella. However, Schneiderman is pretty certain that DFS isn’t protected by the UIGEA.

“No, the 2006 federal Internet gaming statute is not ambiguous. It does not prohibit gambling on fantasy sports,” Schneiderman said. “Now in 2006, of course, the technology for DraftKings and FanDuel didn’t exist. All that exists were the season-long rotisserie baseball leagues and things like that, where traditionally, the sites made money from administrator fees and advertising. They weren’t online gambling enterprises here, where FanDuel and DraftKings described themselves with poker terminology. They take a rake, they take a portion of each betting pot. These are not a new version of traditional fantasy sports. This is just a new version of Internet gambling, more in common with Internet poker than with traditional fantasy sports leagues.”

The legal battle between DraftKings/FanDuel and the state of New York will conclude in the near future. And when this happens, we’ll have a much clearer picture on the legality of DFS.

Assuming you want to see Schneiderman’s entire interview with Frontline, you can check it out here.

Poker’s Anna Khait picked to win Survivor

February 4, 2016

anna-khait-poker-survivorThe last poker player who appeared on CBS’ Survivor, Garrett Adelstein, didn’t fare so well as he was the second contestant voted off out of 18 participants. But poker already has a new Survivor hope in Anna Khait, and one expert has tabbed her to win “Survivor: Kaoh Rong.”

Rob Cesternino, a former contestant who’s become an expert on the reality show, likes Khait’s chances for two reasons:

1) She’ll be underestimated, being a part of the “Beauty” tribe.
2) Her poker-playing prowess shows that she’s more than just a pretty face.

Furthermore, Cesternino thinks that Khait could have a solid long-term strategy that’ll allow her to keep surviving eliminations and eventually take home the $1 million top prize. You can find Cesternino’s podcast here, where he gives complete analysis on Khait’s chances in the 32nd season of Survivor.

As for Khait’s poker career, she has earned just over $10,000 in live tournaments. Her cash game career is a bit of a mystery, but I’m assuming she must have done something in this space. Where she’s really made her mark is by being one of the best-looking women to sit down to the felt. But in a 2014 interview with PokerListings, Khait made it clear that she didn’t just want to be a good-looking poker player.

“My ultimate dream, is to become a PokerStars pro,” she said. “If not, then be a pro who’s respected in the game. I can’t wait for the day for me to prove to everyone that I’m not just a cute face, you know. I love poker. Because I get judged on that all the time.”

Assuming Khait can win Survivor and live up to Cesternino’s prediction, then she’ll no doubt have an easier time getting a sponsorship deal – however increasingly rare these are becoming. Or, she might choose to go down a different path and expand on her reality-TV star potential.

L.A. Times: Regulate both DFS and Online Poker

January 28, 2016

daily-fantasy-sports-californiaCalifornia has been on the forefront of legalizing and regulating online poker for years. Unfortunately, these efforts have stalled and the state legislature is now considering a daily fantasy sports (DFS) bill. But the L.A. Times suggests that rather than looking at each form of online gaming separately, the state should just regulate everything.

The common argument for DFS over online poker is that “it’s not gambling.” But anybody who’s played both games before definitely realizes that they contain nearly the same skill element. Furthermore, DFS is just as much a grey area as internet poker ever was, so why’s there an argument that it’s somehow safer?

This is exactly the point of the L.A. Times editorial, which states that consumers need to be protected with any form of iGaming. Here’s one statement that captures their opinion:

“Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced) is now championing a bill to license and regulate just the daily fantasy sports operators, but his bill is likely to run the same gantlet of resistance from Indian tribes, racetracks and card clubs. The argument for setting up a safer environment for fantasy sports games applies in spades to online poker. It’s time for the Legislature to stand up to the competing gambling interest groups and adopt safeguards that apply across the online gaming boards.”

The key roadblock in getting an iPoker bill through the state legislature has been certain tribes, which want to minimize competition. Specifically, a tribal gaming coalition doesn’t believe that PokerStars or race tracks have any business in the online poker market. Whether they get their wish remains to be seen, but it’s pretty clear that the tribes are against legalizing DFS first. And for the sake of logic, passing a DFS-only bill doesn’t really make much sense.

Poker’s Aaron Jones wins DFS Championship and $5m

January 18, 2016

aaron-jones-fantasy-footballWe’ve seen a lot of poker pros crossing over to the daily fantasy sports (DFS) world, given that poker skills translate well to DFS. And if ever there were a sign of this being true, it comes in the form of Aaron Jones winning the Fantasy Football World Championship (FFWC) and $5 million.

Jones was one of 10 players who made the finals and was flown out to Los Angeles. Of course, with so much variance involved, it was iffy on how good a chance he stood of winning the $5m top prize.

He stayed near the top throughout most of the contest, but was deadlocked with two other players in the fourth quarter of the Pittsburgh Steelers/Denver Broncos game. However, Jones was the only top-three contestant who played Pittsburgh’s Martavis Bryant, who had a monster game with 9 catches for 154 yards and another 40 yards rushing.

This was just enough to give Jones the victory with 352.96 points – 14 more than second-place finisher “dany1234.”

Never before had the DFS world seen a payout quite this big. It’s questionable if we’ll ever see another $5 million prize, given that DFS is facing legal challenges in several U.S. states. Assuming we don’t see another payout this large, Jones will always have bragging rights with his $5m check.

As for his poker career, ‘aejones’ is best known for running the training site LeggoPoker, which he sold to Phil Ivey in 2013. Jones also has over $400,000 in online tournament winnings along with another $590k in live tournaments. But all of this pales compared to the massive prize he just won in the FFWC.

Boeree, Moneymaker among Global Poker League Team Managers

January 14, 2016

Event 51_Day 01_The Global Poker League recently announced teams and managers for its inaugural 2016 season. Among the most interesting names will be Liv Boeree managing the London team and Chris Moneymaker managing the Las Vegas team. Here’s a full look at who will be running each of the 12 franchises:

– Philipp Gruissem managing Berlin Bears
– Celina Lin managing Hong Kong Dragongs
– Chris Moneymaker managing Las Vegas Moneymakers
– Liv Boeree managing London Royals
– Maria Ho managing Los Angeles Sunset
– Marc-Andre Ladouceur managing Montreal Nationals
– Anatoly Filatov managing Moscow Wolverines
– Byrn Kenney managing New York Rounders
– Fabrice Soulier managing Paris Aviators
– Max Pescatori managing Rome Emperors
– Faraz Jaka managing San Francisco Rush
– Andre Akkari managing Sao Paulo Metropolitans

The initial role of the managers will be to draft three players from within the Global Poker Index Top 1,000. The remaining two spots on the teams will then be filled out by two Wild-Card players who are ranked in the Top 1,000.

After this, it’s a little unclear what exact role the managers will play on the franchises. They’ll definitely be providing some coaching to the other five team members, but will they also play in the games too? Or will they simply remain in the managerial role?

Switching to another topic, GPL founder Alex Dreyfus has announced that the teams will all be owned by the league. Initially, each franchise was going to be owned by individuals. But Dreyfus decided that having the league act as one cohesive unit would consolidate marketing efforts and avoid the need for each team to seek individual sponsorship deals.

The GPL Draft, which will be hosted by Phil Hellmuth and Kara Scott, takes place on February 25th. Then we’ll likely see match dates set and get a clearer picture on just how the GPL will operate.

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