(CBS) – Fantasy sports isn’t just a hobby anymore. It can be a huge money maker.
But is it also gambling? CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker reports.
Martin Crowley is general manager of his own fantasy football team. If the players he picks online do well in real life, he wins. If they don’t, he loses.
He loses 40 percent of the time, he says, but he still does pretty well.
“I’ve been able to do some awesome things you know, go on cool vacations and live comfortably,” he says.
DraftKings and FanDuel are the biggest daily fantasy sites. Crowley earns enough to pay rent in a luxury apartment. For him, the games are a full-time job, requiring commitment and skill.
“Every day I’m reading a lot of information,” he says.
For Norm Candelore, it’s a game of chance that resulted in a $184 jackpot.
“Last week I got lucky,” he says.
The question of luck or skill is a national debate. Some state lawmakers call it “gambling” and want the games regulated like casinos. This week, Illinois lawmakers proposed regulations that would bar players under 18, prevent excessive playing and audit fantasy sports companies. But it wouldn’t define the games as gambling.
“You may not consider yourselves gambling, but we should still have some common sense protections in the law,” state Rep. Mike Zalewski, D-Riverside, said.
Lawyer Paul Jenson, who’s on the Chicago Bar Association’s Gaming Practice Committee, says the sites should be subject to some of the types of regulations imposed on casinos.
“Most of us think that there is an aspect of gambling to it,” he says of fantasy sports.
Chris Lai and Tony Giordano created the fantasy sports game called SideLeague. Like its bigger competitors, the founders don’t define the games as gambling, but they are willing to work with lawmakers.
“The steps they’re taking to protect consumers is something that the industry needs,” Giordano says.
Illinois law appears to consider an Internet site gambling if it involves playing a game of chance or skill for money. A recent survey by Eilers Research found that most players spend $100 or less a week playing fantasy sports. That survey also revealed that seven out of 10 players are breaking even or losing money.