I love the game of football. I used to play fantasy football many years ago. Back then, it was fun to put together a team with your friends and see who might outdo the next guy or girl in the league. Back then, we only threw a couple of dollars into a pot, and there was an innocent winner at the end of the season. Back then, fantasy football hadn’t exploded into an enormous industry. Back then, I used to be a gambler.
Fantasy football wasn’t an issue for me, my games were the casino and texas hold-em. Nearly destroyed my family, our finances and me. I was actively suicidal and there was no one I could talk to about the addiction. My wife knew about it, but she enabled me much like she would my alcoholism. How could she possibly confront a controlling jerk that was unwilling to admit his own denial of a compulsive addiction? I managed to kick my addiction to gambling, a couple years after I managed to get a handle on my alcoholism. I’ve been in recovery for over ten years now, and my life is so much easier than it was when I was in the business of lying through my teeth to make it to my next game or shot of scotch. I got lucky, and walked away with a lot of support from my family, friends, and recovery.
This NFL season, fantasy football began a new venture in their industry. They introduced Fan Duel & Draft Kings with an advertising campaign that would rival the likes of any casino showcasing that elderly couple who ‘unexpectedly’ won a Cadillac with a $2.00 bet. The promotion talks about that easy bet that could turn into millions of dollars for the winner. Already both companies have fallen under scrutiny for insider trading with their transactions. Already both companies are under investigations by government agencies across the country, trying to justify or decry their status as a skill based game versus an industry of luck.
If you have ever played a league in fantasy football, you certainly know one of the tenets of a successful day is putting the correct team on the field on any given Sunday. However, one can also clearly see that picking the right players is certainly ‘a gamble.’
I actually become physically sick when the ads come across my tv, not because I am necessarily afraid of buying into a game, but more importantly because of the immediacy of my reminder toward how quickly I was drawn into the insidious nature of gambling, coupled with the ease of wanting to take that first drink again.
I’m asking my sports fans out there to look carefully at what is literally being dangled before you – a game of chance, that moves beyond just having fun and camaraderie to a game that clearly puts a vulnerable person’s financial stability at risk if they are willing to take chances with their impulsivity.
Be careful out there football fans – there are no Kings in the game of Draft Kings, only losers that could ruin their’s and their family’s lives. There is no legitimate duel going on at Fan Duel, only a sham to steal our money. In the end, not only will you hate the trade itself, you’ll lose your perspective and love for the game of football. You’ll be hooked. Don’t bet on any happy endings here folks. Be smart, and just watch the game, not the industry sharks waiting to reel you into their web of deceit.
Gambling is a very real and treacherous disease. The thrill of the win is far less impactful than the misery of loss.