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25th September, 2015 at 15:22:29
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Pac-12 and SEC Network decline television commercials from DraftKings and FanDuel

Despite partnerships with ESPN, which carries the SEC Network, the network and Pac-12 have decided to eschew the multi-million dollars offered for televised advertising space from daily fantasy sports companies, according to local media reports Friday.

Pac-12 president Larry Scott told USA Today he will not televise commercials for DFS on the Pac-12Network, whilst Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long said SEC officials have asked for DFS ads to be removed from the SEC Network, and ESPN has agreed to the request, Kurt Voigt of the Associated Press reported.

Earlier this week the NCAA warned athletes that there would be consequences if they bet on daily fantasy sports sites (see previous report).

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey told Alabama television broadcaster WVTM that in his view daily fantasy sports was a form of gambling despite questions around its legality and status as a game of skill.

"I think the appropriate place for us to land as a conference on the SEC Network, again working with ESPN, is not to include that advertising on the SEC Network moving forward," he said. "Given there's an NCAA byelaw related to sports wagering that picks up a lot including fantasy sports, we felt not including that was an appropriate position for the league."

In related news, there have been calls in Hawaii for a review of daily fantasy sports, echoing similar exercises in Massachusetts and the US Congress (see previous reports.

KITV4 in Honolulu quoted Joe Souki, the Speaker of the House, as saying: "You put in money and there's a risk that you're going to lose the money. That is gambling."

However, he added that he would not support a ban of TV ads that promote one day fantasy leagues

Souki has been a member of the pro-gaming lobby for most of his career in the state Legislature, but admits the issue of betting on one day fantasy leagues needs to be clarified, perhaps as soon as January when lawmakers reconvene.

"It should be cleared up to allow the people who enjoy fantasy gambling to participate and not worry about somebody pointing a finger at them," he said. "I look forward to talking with the House leadership to see how they feel about it, and maybe trying to craft some language that might be appropriate."

The business model for one day fantasy sports depends on new player acquisition, and DraftKings and FanDuel are investing big money to build their player bases. According to the latest stats from TV Ad tracker iSpot.tv, both companies spent nearly $31 million in TV ads over the past seven days alone.

Under the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act passed by the US Congress in 2006, games like online poker are illegal, but fantasy leagues are exempt, because outcomes are supposed to reflect the skill of players as opposed to chance. Opponents, however, are urging Hawaii lawmakers to take action.

Thus far, Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin has remained on the side lines; his spokesman told KITV4 this week: "There are not currently any official AG opinions on this topic, [but] we can't speculate on whether it's something we'll be looking into in the future."

Under Hawaiian state law, a person engages in gambling if he or she risks something of value on a contest of chance or a future event not under their control. Since college and professional sports have undetermined outcomes, one day fantasy leagues appear to fit the state's definition, critics claim.

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