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Is the Patriots’ New Fantasy Sports Lounge a Gaming Venue?

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

 

"More than $1 Billion guaranteed cash & prizes this year,” promises DraftKings, and now for the first time in NFL history, the New England Patriots have built a lounge sponsored by and promoting the Fantasy Sports games that promise cash prizes.

For fans attending the Patriots’ home games, they will now have the opportunity to catch the live action in front of them while following their fantasy team in the new DraftKings.com Fantasy Sports Zone located in the south end zone of the stadium complete with multiple screens with live updates on fantasy players.

The new Sports Zone is a lounge located in the 100-level concourse that will feature a bar area and multiple television screens that will allow fans direct interaction with their fantasy football teams on Draftkings.com.

DraftKings and their competitor Fan Duels are ventured back companies play for the big time in sports betting.  One DraftKings game promises a $10 million payout - “Enter the $10MM NFL Millionaire Maker with a $2MM top prize, the biggest fantasy football contest of all time.”

Does the DraftKings Sports Zone Violate State Gaming Law?

GoLocal asked Massachusetts Gaming Commission Director of Communications Elaine Driscoll if active gaming in the DraftKings lounge violates any Massachusetts law.

Driscoll said, “I think that is beyond our scope. I think the gaming statute is pretty specific about what falls under our purview. And that’s casino licenses and slots.”

In the state of Massachusetts, General Law Chapter 23 Section 2 states that a Gaming Establishment is defined as “the premises approved under a gaming license which includes a gaming area and any other nongaming structure related to the gaming area and may include, but shall not be limited to, hotels, restaurants or other amenities.”

Furthermore, by Massachusetts law, a “game” is defined as  “a banking or percentage game played with cards, dice, tiles, dominoes or an electronic, electrical or mechanical device or machine played for money, property, checks, credit or any other representative of value which has been approved by the commission” and gaming is “dealing, operating, carrying on, conducting, maintaining or exposing any game for pay.”

NFL is Ahead of the Game

In other words, one could argue that the DraftKings lounge itself could be considered a gaming establishment due to the fact that people are playing a game for money and using a provided device.

However, due to the U.S. government’s 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act which stipulated that fantasy sports were legal, the New England Patriots and NFL are allowed to promote sites such as DraftKings throughout their stadium. 

In an email to GoLocal, NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy briefly stated that the DraftKings lounge at Gillette “isn’t an issue” and that all 32 NFL teams have the opportunity to have such an area in their stadiums.

In 2012, the NFL decided to allow teams to sell limited advertising space in their stadiums to casinos. Last season, the league loosened those limitations even more to expand casino advertising. The Detroit Lions went so far as to have a casino sponsor a lounge for fans.

DraftKings and the NFL

In October 2014, the Patriots and DraftKings.com came to an agreement that marked the first partnership with an operating site and an NFL team. 

“The New England Patriots are proud to partner with DraftKings, a Boston-based business that is the largest daily fantasy sports company in the country,” said Murray Kohl, vice president of corporate sales for the New England Patriots, in a released statement. “Many of our fans in the stadium are playing daily fantasy sports and we want to provide them with the most up to date information.”

One reason that major sports organizations are in full support of, and aligning themselves with, fantasy sports sites are because of the revenue the game brings in. 

The fantasy sports industry is worth $3-$4 billion annually - with consistent growth from year-to-year. 

In a released statement, Paul Liberman, CMO and co-founder of DraftKings said, “DraftKings is incredibly proud to associate ourselves with the New England Patriots, one of the league’s most successful franchises, right here in our backyard. The Patriots are one of the league’s model franchises and we are pleased to align ourselves with them. We look forward to bringing the excitement of daily fantasy sports into the game-day experience.”

For those that don’t play fantasy football, DraftKings.com offers daily and weekly contests for cash prizes in all major sports including NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and PGA. DraftKings also hosts contests for college basketball and football.

DraftKings a Legal Game of Skill 

DraftKings states that it is legal gaming in the United States and Canada because the U.S. government recognizes fantasy sports as a game of skill. 

However, participants under the age of 18 (19 in Nebraska and Alabama) are not allowed to play - the same minimum age allowed to gamble in nearly every state in the U.S.

According to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, sites likes DraftKings.com and FanDuel.com are legal because gamers have to possess skill to account for statistics, facts and game theory, the U.S. government’s 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act stipulated that fantasy sports were legal, organizations such as the NFL and MLB support fantasy sports while strictly enforcing rules against illegal gambling, and that fantasy sports players behave differently than other gamblers and participate in fantasy sports for reasons other than money.

Following an all-time high of NFL gambling in the United Kingdom in 2014 (a 100 percent increase of betting on games played in UK compared to U.S.), DraftKings.com has recently decided to go international and has recently received a license to operate United Kingdom Gambling Commission.

Videowall Image: "Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, Massachusetts 2011" - James Wellman/Flickr

 

Related Slideshow: The 21 Biggest Patriots Controversies

What do Michael Jackson and deflated footballs have in common? Read on for some of the more colorful chapters in Patriots history.

Prev Next

"Snow Plow" Game

December 12, 1982

The Snowplow Game took place against the Miami Dolphins at the old Schaefer Stadium in Foxboro. During the game, the stadium's snowplow operator cleared a spot on the snowy field in order for New England kicker John Smith to kick the winning field goal to give the Patriots a 3–0 win.

The Astroturf surface of the field had been waterlogged the night before due to heavy rain, and froze over before the game began. Shortly after the game began, it began to snow heavily. For this game, officials could call for a time-out, and allow the ground crew to use a snowplow to clear the yard markers. 

With just 4:45 left to go in the scoreless game, Patriots coach Ron Meyer ordered a snowplow operator to clear a spot on the field for placekicker John Smith. Instead of plowing straight across the field, the plow turned left, directly in front of the goal post, giving Smith a clear advantage. Miami coach Don Shula vehemently protested but the field goal was good and the Patriots won the game with a final score of 3–0. 

The following year, the NFL banned the use of snowplows on the field during a game. 

The plow itself now hangs from the ceiling at an exhibit marking the event at Gillette Stadium.

IMAGE VIA Patriots.com

Prev Next

‘Roughing the Passer’

Dec. 18, 1976

Patriots vs. Raiders

On December 18, 1976 the Patriots visited the Oakland Raiders in the AFC Divisional Playoff game at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. 

The Patriots led the game 21-17 with 1:24 to play when Patriots Defensive tackle Ray Hamilton sacked Oakland quarterback Kenny Stabler in what should have been the end of the game. 

However, referee Ben Dreith called a roughing the passer penalty on Hamilton giving Oakland new life. Stabler proceeded to get himself into the end zone with ten seconds left to give Oakland a 24-21 lead. 

The game still stands as one of the most controversial games ever played. 

Prev Next

Chuck Fairbanks Quits

1978

Chuck Fairbanks had been Head Coach of the Patriots since 1973. 

In 1978, wide receiver Darryl Stingley was left paralyzed following a hit by Jack Tatum during pregam play in Oakland; Fairbanks had worked out a contract extension with Stingley before the game but later, owner Chuck Sullivan reneged on the deal. Fairbanks was furious and resolved to leave the team after the season.

The Patriots won the AFC East title that year, and seemed poised for a Super Bowl appearance. Just before the final regular season game, Sullivan suspended Fairbanks for breaking a contract by agreeing to become head coach for the University of Colorado in 1979. Fairbanks was reinstated for the Pat's first playoff game, but the Patriots were upset by the Houston Oilers.

The Patriots sued Fairbanks for breach of contract. During the course of the lawsuit, he admitted recruiting for Colorado while still on the Patriots payroll. The team won an injunction preventing him from leaving. However, a group of CU supporters bought out his contract, paving the way for him to leave the Patriots.

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Irving Fryar PVD Fight

October 1990

A nightclub altercation in downtown Providence left New England Patriot wide receiver Hart Lee Dykes hospitalized with an eye injury and teammate Irving Fryar facing a weapons charge back in October of 1990.

Fryar had filed a police report that said he was hit over the head from behind while trying to help Dykes.

Fryar was supposedly walking to his car outside Club Shalimar around 1:20 a.m., when he saw Dykes arguing with some people, and pulled a handgun out during the fracas.

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Michael Jackson

Summer 1984

In the summer of 1984, Michael Jackson reunited with his brothers for the final time for their "Victory" World Tour. The tour was promoted by Patriot's owner Billy Sullivan and his son Chuck.

Chuck Sullivan guaranteed the Jacksons a $36.6 million advance, and put the stadium up as collateral for a $12.5 million loan to pay the first installment shortly before the tour started. 

He tried to use his NFL connections to make more lucrative deals with other stadium owners, but many balked at his terms.

In the most humiliating chapter of this story, the board of selectmen in Foxboro denied a permit for the concert, citing an "unknown element" of danger, thought to be a fear of a large black attendance at the shows. 

The Sullivans lost tens of millions on the tour, forcing them to sell the team to Victor Kiam in 1988.

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Potential St. Louis Move

1992

James Orthwein purchased the New England Patriots from Victor Kiam in 1992 when the Kiam was facing bankruptcy and owed Orthwein millions. He planned to relocate the Patriots franchise to St. Louis, renaming the team the St. Louis Stallions.

His plans were curtailed when Bob Kraft, owner of Foxboro Stadium, refused to accept a buyout of the lease. Kraft used his ownership of the stadium to stage a hostile takeover, offering to pay $175 million for the team knowing that Orthwein no longer wanted the team if he could not move it to St. Louis. Orthwein accepted the bid.

Prev Next

Drew Bledsoe Mosh Pit

November 13. 1997

On Christmas Eve, 1997, Patriots QB Drew Bledsoe was sued by a woman who said that she was injured when Bledsoe and teammates Scott Zolak and Max Lane were stage diving and crowd surfing at an Everclear concert at Boston's Paradise Rock Club. 

It was determined that there was no criminal wrongdoing, but Bledsoe and Lane each settled, with Bledsoe paying $400,000 and Lane paying $600,000 towards a $1.2 million settlement.

Bledsoe, who weighed 235 pounds, and Lane, who weighed 305 pounds, admitted they dove off the stage, but said they did not cause the woman's injuries.

Prev Next

Potential Providence Move

October, 1997

After Bob Kraft purchased the Patriots in 1994, he spent years trying to negotiate a new stadium deal either in Foxboro or in Boston proper. Several New England cities began talking with Kraft, including Providence. Mayor Buddy Cianci was a particular cheerleader for a stadium to be built downtown near I-95, where the Foundry is located.

Kraft later came to terms with the town of Foxboro and state of Massachusetts and built a new stadium right next to the old one.

Prev Next

Superbowl XX Humiliation

January 26, 1986

The Patriots were humiliatingly defeated in their first Super Bowl appearance, losing 46-10 to the Chicago Bears.

Maybe the less said about that one, the better.

Prev Next

Potential Hartford Move

November 1998

After failing to get anywhere while trying to secure a new stadium to replace the aging, outdated 1971 facility in Foxboro, Bob Kraft unsuccessfully attempted to negotiate a move to Boston or Providence. In November of 1998, Hartford, CT came calling with an offer for a 100% publically financed stadium facility on the riverfront. A deal was made, and plans moved forward, until it was discovered that the proposed site was contaminated, and would require a massive cleanup cost. 

Massachusetts ended up coughing up $72 million for a new stadium in Foxboro, with Kraft financing the rest himself. 

Prev Next

Millen vs Sullivan

Jan. 5, 1986

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. This is one of those times. 

This incident occurred at the L.A. Coliseum on Jan. 5, 1986, after an AFC divisional playoff game between the Patriots and the Raiders. The Raiders’ Howie Long had spent the week leading up to the game taking shots at the Patriots.

In response, General Manager Pat Sullivan spent the whole game mocking and teasing Long.

The Raiders wound up losing 27-20. After the loss, Long and Sullivan met up on the field. Long said things got heated when Sullivan grabbed his face mask.

This is where Matt Millen comes in.

Millen said he saw someone swing at Long, but didn’t know who it was. He got quite the shot in, claiming to not realize it was Sullivan.

Prev Next

Parcells Exits

1996

Coach Bill Parcells left the Patriots in 1996 after disagreements with owner Robert Kraft. Parcells thought that he didn't have enough input into personnel decisions. When he left, he famously said: "They want you to cook the dinner; at least they ought to let you shop for some of the groceries. Okay?" This was in reference to an incident during the 1996 draft where Parcells, who wanted to draft a defensive player with their first-round choice, was vetoed by Kraft, who favored drafting a wide reciever instead.

Prev Next

Belichick/Jets Tampering

1999

 When Bill Parcells stepped down as head coach in of the New York Jets in 1999, he had already arranged to have Belichick be his successor.

Belichick would be the New York Jets' head coach for only one day, however. At Belichick's press conference announcing him head coach, he surprisingly resigned the post. He then delivered a half-hour speech explaining his resignation to the assembled press corps.

Soon after, he was introduced as the Patriots' head coach. Parcells and the Jets claimed that Belichick was still under contract to the Jets, and demanded compensation from the Patriots. The NFL agreed, and the Patriots had to surrender a first-round draft pick to the Jets, causing the loss of acquiring running back Curtis Martin.

Prev Next

The "Tuck Rule" Game

January 19, 2002

The 2001 AFC divisional playoff game, or the "Tuck Rule Game", took place at Foxboro Stadium between the Patriots and the Oakland Raiders.

The name "Tuck Rule Game" comes from a controversial play where Raiders' cornerback Charles Woodson sacked Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady which initially appeared to cause a fumble that was eventually recovered by Raiders' linebacker Greg Biekert. If it was a fumble, it would have almost definitely guaranteed a win for the Raiders.

Officials reviewed the play, and determined that Brady's arm was moving forward, making it an incomplete pass and not a fumble. As a result, the original call was overturned, and the ball was given back to the Patriots who moved the ball into field goal range. With under a minute remaining in the game, Adam Vinatieri kicked a 45-yard field goal to tie the game, which sent the game into overtime.

In overtime, Vinatieri kicked a 23-yard field goal to win the game for the Patriots, who went on to win Super Bowl XXXVI.

Prev Next

"Spy-gate"

September 9, 2007

During the 2007 season, the Patriots were disciplined by the NFL for videotaping the New York Jets' coaches' signals during a September 9, 2007 game.

After an investigation, the NFL fined Patriots head coach Bill Belichick $500,000 (the largest fine ever imposed on a coach in the league's history and the maximum allowed) for his role in the incident, fined the Patriots $250,000, and relieved the team of their first-round selection in the 2008 NFL Draft. 

Prev Next

Aaron Hernandez

June 2013

On August 22, 2013, tight end Aaron Hernandez was indicted by a grand jury for the murder of Odin Lloyd, a semi-professional football player, in July 2013. On May 15, 2014, Hernandez was indicted for the 2012 double homicide of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado. 

After his arrest, Hernandez was released by the Patriots organization.

Prev Next

Deflated Balls

January 18, 2015

After the 2015 AFC Championship game between the Patriots and the Colts, the NFL announced that it was investigating reports that game balls had been deflated. One such report came from Indianapolis Colts player D'Qwell Jackson after he intercepted a pass by quarterback Tom Brady.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick said he didn't know anything about the controversy until the morning after the game, and that he "cooperate fully" with any probe. Brady called the allegation "ridiculous".

According to reports, the NFL found 11 of 12 Patriots game balls were underinflated.

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The South Boston Megaplex

Mid 90's

The South Boston "Megaplex" was proposed in the mid-1990's to replace the aging Fenway Park and Foxboro Stadium.

Massachusetts Governor William Weld pushed for construction of a full "Megaplex" at one site, while Boston Mayor Thomas Menino favored a new convention center complex at another site in South Boston. In the end, the residents of neither of these neighborhoods wanted a stadium, and protested vigorously.

In the end, Fenway replacement plans were cancelled, and the Patriots constructed a new stadium right next to the old Foxboro Stadium after flirting with moves to Hartford and Providence.

Prev Next

The "Flying Elvis"

1993 Season

In 1993, the team replaced mascot "Pat Patriot" with a new, aerodynamic logo that resembled the King of Rock and Roll. Dubbed "The Flying Elvis" by fans, the new logo never took off with some fans, who prefer the "Old School" Pat Patriot to the sleek Flying Elvis.

Prev Next

Bledsoe Vs. Brady

November 2001

When Drew Bledsoe returned from a lung injury during the 2001 season, he assumed that he'd return to his QB position.

However, Coach Bill Belichick controversially announced that Tom Brady would be starting quarterback for the rest of the season. Many fans thought this was unfair to Bledsoe, but history has proven Belichick made the right move.

Prev Next

Ravens "Manipulation"

January 10, 2015

After the team's 35-31 loss, Ravens headcoach John Harbaugh complained about a "substitution trick" by the Patriots during the game, saying it was "clearly deception" that he hoped the NFL would investigate.

Harbaugh received an "unsportsmanlike conduct" penalty for running onto the field and screaming in objection. After the game, he said that the officials "didn't understand what was going on."

The NFL found that there was no wrongdoing by the Patriots. 

 
 

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