The essence of the great debate over the legality of daily fantasy sports websites involves whether these are games of skill or chance. But like so much in life, you need to be lucky and good to succeed.
Fantasy sports have been around for years but New York City's FanDuel and Boston's DraftKings drew the attention of government officials by raking in millions of dollars for themselves and their sponsors — and some for their players. The websites assert that because it takes skill to pick winning fantasy teams what they are doing is not gambling and therefore shouldn't be regulated or made illegal.
A weakness in that argument is that it takes considerable skill to pick winning horses and combinations of horses at Saratoga in summer, yet no one claims that betting on horses isn't gambling. March office pools for the NCAA basketball tournament circulate millions of dollars annually and while basketball savants will make money, so will the occasional novice who picks teams by nicknames or uniform colors. Skill and pure luck come into play.
However, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's shut-down order to FanDuel and DraftKings is an overreaction. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, who Thursday described fantasy sports as gambling, is considering consumer protections, a preferable approach. (Adding to the AG mix, Martha Coakley, Ms. Healey's predecessor, is advising DraftKings.)
Fantasy sites should be regulated and DraftKings should pay in to the state's tax coffers. But in states like Massachusetts and New York that have legalized casinos, with their drawbacks, it is difficult to make a fair case that fantasy sports sites should be banned.