Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones expressed support Sunday for the embattled daily fantasy sports industry and defended his own stake in leading operator DraftKings. Jones’ comments came as the legality of DraftKings' and FanDuel's contests are being questioned at the federal and state level.
“From my perspective, anything that follows the rules, that causes and creates more interest and more fan participation, I’m really for,” Jones said, according to ESPN. “So I’m a supporter, and that’s the rules that we’ll test is, put your money where your mouth is.”
While the National Football League has distanced itself from the daily fantasy sports industry, 28 of its 32 teams have partnerships with either FanDuel or DraftKings. Jones and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft own unspecified equity stakes in DraftKings, and AT&T Stadium, the Cowboys’ home stadium, features a DraftKings-branded fantasy sports lounge. DraftKings and FanDuel are each valued at more than $1 billion, and both are backed by hundreds of millions of dollars in private investments.
— SI Wire (@SI_Wire) October 26, 2015
The daily fantasy sports industry faces unprecedented scrutiny this month after a DraftKings employee accidentally leaked confidential information about an NFL fantasy contest the same week he won $350,000 while participating in a FanDuel event. The incident led the FBI and U.S. Department of Justice to open inquiries into the industry’s business model, internal safeguards against consumer fraud and overall legality. In the gambling hub of Nevada, officials formally classified daily fantasy sports as a type of gambling and banned companies from operating in the state until they obtained proper licenses.
The daily fantasy sports industry operates under a 2006 statute that exempts fantasy sports from federal bans on other forms of online gambling. DraftKings and FanDuel argue their contests are games of skill, not games of chance, which they say differentiates their offerings from more traditional forms of gambling.
Traditionally, pro sports leagues in the United States have opposed legalized sports betting due to concerns about how it would affect the integrity of their games. Jones said daily fantasy contests do not carry the same risk.
“I don’t think DraftKings or FanDuel in any way compromise our players on the football field because it’s all fantasy,” Jones said. “It has no bearing on the outcome of the game at all.”