There’s a great story over on BluffMagazine.com about Erick Lindgren, a poker professional who’s racked up hundreds of thousands—if not millions—of dollars in debt and is now in rehab trying to address his gambling addiction.
First off, we wish Lindgren and his family the best as he attempts to work through his addiction, which will be particularly challenging considering his form of living will still come from … gambling.
But there were a couple quotes in the story that really jumped out to us.
“I’d had a really tough year,” Lindgren told Bluff. “I lost way too much money in football last year and couldn’t pay some fantasy football bets at the end of the year. I owed people a bunch of money, and it’s something that I’ve been working on for a long time, but I definitely slipped up, made some really bad mistakes and I needed to address that.”
What’s that, you say? An addicted gambler had a problem with fantasy football? No way!
“I definitely owed some guys after fantasy football,” Lindgren continued, “and lots of times as a gambler you get caught up in a circle of trying to collect the money that’s owed to you and redistributing it to people you owe.”
One person on an online forum even “called Lindgren out publicly for not paying him $11,000 in fantasy football winnings.” Another blog claims that Lindgren owed “well over $100,000 in fantasy football losses to many individuals.”
One hundred thousand dollars? But the NFL led us all to believe that fantasy football is just a fun little game played for lollipops and candy canes!
From a story we wrote last month:
One question the state [of New Jersey] asked: “If the leagues are anti-gambling, why do all of them—including the NFL—endorse and sanction fantasy sports?” On that front, we learned that the leagues don’t view fantasy as a legitimate form of gambling.
In comparison to traditional sports betting, it’s, like, way different.
“The leagues view fantasy as just that: Pretend, made up,” said attorney Jeffrey Mishkin, representing the plantiffs. “It’s like the difference between playing Monopoly and being a real estate agent.”
Phew. We’re really glad that Lindgren’s fantasy football debts are just “pretend” and “made up.” The people to whom he owes six figures will surely be relieved to hear that, too.
Do we have anything against fantasy football? Of course not. We all play it and have a great time doing it. But continuing to pretend that fantasy sports are drastically different than traditional sports betting is naïve at best, and deceitful, pretentious and hypocritical at worst.
Ask yourself this: If part of the danger of legalized sports betting is that athletes might be influenced by high-roller gamblers to “fix” or “throw” the outcomes of games, why wouldn’t that be even more of an issue now with the rapid growth of high-stakes fantasy leagues that involve individual statistical performances?
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Related: Man purchases endzone seats to NFL playoff game with money from a fantasy football league.