Sports were briefly center stage during the Republican debates on Wednesday night. In the latter half of the event, CNBC moderator Carl Quintanilla asked Jeb Bush to comment on the “hot-button” issue of fantasy sports regulation.
“Governor Bush, daily fantasy sports has become a phenomenon in this country, will award billions of dollars in prize money this year. But to play you have to assess your odds, put money at risk, wait for an outcome that’s out of your control. Isn’t that the definition of gambling, and should the Federal Government treat it as such?”
Of course, Bush responded to the question in a very Jeb manner:
“Well, first of all, I’m 7 and 0 in my fantasy league… Gronkowski is still going strong. I have Ryan Tannehill, Marco, as my quarterback, he was 18 for 19 last week. So I’m doing great. But we’re not gambling. And I think this has become something that needs to be looked at in terms of regulation. Effectively it is day trading without any regulation at all. And when you have insider information, which apparently has been the case, where people use that information and use big data to try to take advantage of it, there has to be some regulation.”
While Governor Bush took a diplomatic approach to the subject, Christie made no effort to hide his disdain for the question. The other governor was barely able to contain himself as he blurted out a response.
“Carl, are we really talking about getting government involved in fantasy football? …[We] have $19 trillion in debt. We have people out of work. We have ISIS and al Qaeda attacking us. And we’re talking about fantasy football? Can we stop?”
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, when it comes to this issue I find myself with strange bedfellows. While I believe online gambling of all kinds requires some form of oversight, I do find it somewhat ludicrous that we’ve dedicated this much prime airtime to FanDuel and DraftKings. I love hearing a political candidate say “Gronkowski” as much as the next guy, but here it somewhat out of place, if not disingenuous.
The issue seemed to be breached more for it’s topical value than it’s relevant. If Carl Quintanilla really cared to discuss the subject, why didn’t he ask any candidate to address the larger issue of gaming as a whole? That seems like a far more fitting subject for a Presidential debate.
[Transcripts via The Washington Post / images via NBC.com]