I'd like to pretend that online gambling sites aren't a big deal, but I'm having a more difficult time believing that now. The way FanDuel and DraftKings took over every advertising spot on ESPN and NFL games really woke me up a little. There has to be insane amounts of cash going in. What did they recently brag they were paying out each week? Seventy-five million? Wonder what percent they don't pay out?

But gambling is gambling. Or playing games of *cough* skill (Are carnival games games of skill? Aren't they? The basketball hoop is just smaller right? If you're winning thrice the time if you're Mark Price, then it's skill, even if that's just 2%, right?) for money is playing for money. Either way, it's not something I'm interested in or really care much about. If you're not risk adverse enough to skip these games, well, you get what's coming, I guess. I mean, you can get in worse trouble selling stocks short, right? Isn't that just as much skill and luck? If you can do one, why not the other?

But then you see a story like this one from CBS News, and I, at least, started doing more thinking. PayPal handles those payments, and gets a taste. Yahoo apparently is invested in similar services. And then, the real kicker is the disclosure at the bottom of the page:

Editor's Note: CBS has an investment in FanDuel of less than 1 percent of that company's value.

Add to that Robert Kraft, and NFL Team Owner, and Fox Sports, an NFL broadcaster, both own parts of these companies, and you've got a real conflict.

Ouch. Big Business is still Big Business, no matter how little you want to pretend it affects you. Look at the people who not only have dogs in this fight, but who do get juice from its winnings:
  • The owners of the teams who are being bet (or whose players performances determine who wins a game, whichever way you look at it)
  • The teams' broadcasters (Fox) 
    • I'd add ESPN to this. So many ads, even native reads on Mike & Mike, who wouldn't stop saying that these things were games of skill, and how much they enjoyed playing. If I have to hear one more stupid comparison to state lotteries or poker games... I'd like to hear how often the hosts played & what they won/lost.
  • The news outlets that both broadcast and report on them (Yahoo and CBS)
  • The banks that provide payment to them (PayPal)
Two of these -- banks and journalists -- I don't want getting anywhere near these "games of chancy skill". And don't discount Fox Sports and ESPN as journalists. They provide entertainment first, sure, but you don't have to be Bill Simmons to wonder when their advertisers become their true customers, to the detriment of their producing hard-hitting pieces for their viewers, and anyone counting on their role as press to perform the last check and balance on corruption in sports.

Not that gambling could corrupt sports, could it?

If we keep mixing dollars between banks, journalism, and sports, sports betting could make Glass-Stegall's repeal look like a walk in the park.

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