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Fantasy sports seminars argue skill vs. luck

Oct 6, 2015 3:01 AM

The seminars on sports betting and fantasy sports were a social media bonanza along with defining just where this issue lies in the state of New Jersey.

“New Jersey is the flashpoint of the entire issue,” said Daniel Wallach, a Florida-based attorney who has become the nation’s leading authority on the case since 2013 even though he is not a part it.

“I have a passion for the NJ issue,” Wallach said in a one-on-one interview following a lively G2E seminar that included Joe Asher, CEO of William Hill sportsbooks. “It first caught my eye in 2006. At the time I was so much under the radar. I developed a Twitter following writing about it and went from zero to hero.”

The key date is Oct. 9, when the Third Circuit Court under Judge Marjorie O. Rendell, will render a decision. Gov. Chris Christie has a bill already signed and sitting on his desk that would allow sports betting. Monmouth Park would be the first site to implement it. But that’s wishful thinking.

“Hopefully Jersey will pull a rabbit out of its hat,” Wallach said. “But I am a neutral voice, who is breaking stories and having a lot fun even though I am not getting paid for it.

What Wallach referred to as “Christie 1” went to the state, upon appeal “Christie 2” overturned 1 with the court ruling on behalf of the four major pro sports along with the NCAA who believe sports betting should be illegal.

“I like to call this latest case Christie 2.5,” Wallach said. “New Jersey’s chances received a considerable boost when the leagues were asked to file an answer brief. Granting a rehearing is rare, basically a do-over. The Third Circuit has been more activist lately on rehearing.”

The Jersey case is about overturning PASPA, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992. The new law Christie signed last year and sitting on his desk would bar anyone younger than 21 from betting on sports and permit select businesses to offer that type of wagering.

If New Jersey should ever be granted legalized sports betting, Wallach believes the decision would spread like wildfire.

“You have 99 percent of all betting in the United States being done illegally,” he said. “The quickest path to make sports betting legal is through the courts rather than legislature. Twitter can spread the gospel on sports betting. All the best information on the deflategate case came off of Twitter. We are using Twitter to break down what is happening in the courts. It is an indispensable tool.”

Regardless of the ruling don’t expect anything to happen until next year if Jersey were to win. And then there is this final opinion from Wallach, which may really make the most sense of an issue few have been able to grasp.

“We could be having this conversation in here five years from now.”

Encore: Asher’s position was especially popular with the near capacity audience for the seminar at the Sands Convention Center. “Many years, sports betting was treated with the wink and the nod. Now it is becoming more socially acceptable to talk about covering and over/unders. In week 1 of the NFL there was a massive amount of advertising fueling the acceptability of fantasy sports. I am all for fantasy sports, but to pretend it lives in its own world is ridiculous. It is gambling.”

About fantasy

Here are some points that were made in discussing the boom in fantasy sports:

• 57 million people play fantasy sports (52 million in USA, 5 million in Canada).

• 17 percent are playing daily fantasy – up from 8 percent a year ago.

• The average age of a fantasy player is 37, which fits in with millennials whose average age is 30.

Mark Mayer has over 35 years covering sports events and is the sports editor at GT. Twitter: @MarkMayerGT Email: [email protected]

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