Jerry Jones defends DraftKings stake: It 'creates more interest'

ByDarren Rovell ESPN logo
Monday, October 26, 2015

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, minutes after his team's loss on Sunday to the New York Giants, defended his investment in daily fantasy company DraftKings.

"From my perspective, anything that follows the rules, that causes and creates more interest and more fan participation, I'm really for," Jones said. "So I'm a supporter and that's the rules that we'll test -- is put your money where your mouth is."

Jones said he wouldn't comment on any specifics regarding the business model because he isn't involved in a day-to-day capacity.

NFL teams are not allowed to invest in the daily fantasy companies, but their owners are. Jones owns a stake in DraftKings, as does the New England Patriots ownership group, The Kraft Group.

Daily fantasy companies have been under fire after a DraftKings employee won $350,000 in a FanDuel contest. Both companies soon banned employees from playing on other fantasy sites, but DraftKings announced that an internal investigation and a third-party investigation found that no internal insider information gave that employee, Ethan Haskell, an edge.

Since then, 18 lawsuits, mostly class action against both companies, have been filed and the offices of both New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and New York federal prosecutor Preet Bharara have started to look into the practices of the companies.

Earlier in the month, DraftKings and FanDuel -- barred from operating in five states -- pulled out of Nevada after the Nevada Gaming Control Board put daily fantasy games on par with betting and the companies therefore couldn't operate in the state without a license.

Both sites hold that the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 makes fantasy a game of skill, not chance, and it is therefore not betting.

"Congress made it legal," Jonathan Kraft said on the Patriots' pregame show on 98.5 The Sports Hub last week. "It's interesting to me, over the last month or so with all the yelling out of Washington about how this is an unregulated industry -- well, they have the right to regulate it. They chose to make it legal and not pass regulations." Kraft said that he thinks the industry would welcome regulations, which would lead to more transparency.

But the author of the act, former Rep. Jim Leach of Iowa, said this year that the legislation was not intended to carve out what daily fantasy became.

Jones, on Sunday, made it clear that he didn't think that his investment damages the integrity of the game.

"I don't think DraftKings or [competitor] FanDuel in any way compromise our players on the football field because it's all fantasy," Jones said. "It has no bearing on the outcome of the game at all."

NFL players are allowed to play, but can't accept a prize above $250 for doing so. NBA and Major League Baseball players are prohibited from even taking part in fantasy games.

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