The Fantasy Sports Trade Association has hired its first federal lobbyist as part of a political campaign to protect its financial interests and to expand into states that ban betting (even on fictional team). Now fantasy sports have officially joined politics in the real world.
Fantasy sport leagues exist in a variety of sports including football, baseball, basketball, hockey and more. In these leagues, fans are allowed to created mock teams of real-life players who will compete in pretend franchises. They are a big part of American sports and growing more in popularity and size with each year and season.
Travis McCoy registered to lobby on the Fantasy Sports Trade Association’s behalf in May and says, “We are trying to allow people to play their games and have a good time.”
McCoy is a former aide to House Speaker John Boehner and treasurer of the association’s newly formed PAC. He is also an avid fantasy football, baseball, basketball and hockey player so he understands what these type of sports really mean to the fan.
U.S. sports fantasy sites drew 312 million visits last month with the start of the National Football League’s regular season, a 12% increase over September 2010, according to Matt Tatham of Experian Hitwise. Fantasy sports generates an estimated $2 billion per year and more than 30 million people play.
That facts and figures show us how popular fantasy sports are. There are TV shows and websites dedicated to it, experts on this subject and now, even a political lobbyist. Almost a dozen states still have laws against the games and the prizes that are offered via fantasy sports and the organization hopes to change that.
$6,000 has been spent so far towards the lobby but Louis M. Maione, CEO of RotoMedia, says it is just the beginning. Even though fantasy sports are already boasting some large numbers, it is just now entering popular culture. In the years to come, we can expect to see many more people on board.
As a fan, this is great news since the lobbying will aim to overturn laws that prevent players and owners from collecting prizes in many states and it will work to make it more mainstream and acceptable just like regular professional sports.
With someone lobbying for this cause, what would you ask for? What would you like to see changed with existing laws and regulations surrounding fantasy sports?