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date: 21 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The law of sports wagering in the United States reflects the exceptionalism of sports. Although limitations on gambling in general have undergone significant liberalization in recent decades, sports wagering remains subject to a complex interplay among federal and state prohibitions. This exceptionalism stems from the notion that sports contests would be ineluctably corrupted by betting, potentially giving contestants unduly large investments in the outcome, or in shaping the magnitude of the victory. Despite this continuing antipathy toward sports betting as a matter of formal legality, recent legal developments have unwittingly created a burgeoning industry in sports betting, which industry has created significant instability in the general prohibition. Specifically, the rise of daily fantasy sports contests, which can feature contests that appear remarkably similar to single-game bets on the outcome of a game, has both evidenced the domestic appetite for sports wagering, and has pushed against the boundaries set by the anti-gambling prohibitions. The legality of daily fantasy sports is highly debatable, and calls into question the very nature of a sports bet as a game of chance or skill, and whether or not fantasy play presents a substantially different set of characteristics. Whatever the legal outcome, strong arguments exist that suggest that fantasy play would not give rise to the concerns that animated the general prohibition on sports wagering.

Keywords: Sports wagering, Betting, Fantasy sports, Law of wagering, Point shaving, Wire Wager Act, Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, Prohibition of sports gambling, Legalization of sports wagering

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