The UK Gambling Commission has a word of warning for fantasy football operators: don’t do anything that even resembles traditional sports betting if you want to keep your license.

It’s a warning that illustrates the challenges fantasy sports and daily fantasy sports operators face as they market a product that, increasingly, has trouble presenting itself as something other than gambling.

In its warning, the Gambling Commission points out that many standard fantasy football games ride right up the to the edge of what is known as “pool betting.” Pool betting is a betting product where the payout is determined by the amount of money wagered by the total amount of money the group members contribute and requires a separate pool license.

The Commission went on to include some very specific warnings to fantasy football operators about how they should be marketing their products. In particular, the Commission warned that operators should avoid anything that even resembles a suggestion that their games are gambling saying:

One area that organisers are being told to be particularly aware of is advertising and social media.

Advertising, when it comes to gambling, includes doing anything that encourages someone to gamble, or provides information about gambling facilities so that it will increase use. This includes Twitter or Facebook posts, whether public, or private or within groups.

In the UK, fantasy football games are exempt from pool licenses so long as the organizer is not making a profit from the deal. That exception allow private parties to conduct fantasy football games in workplaces and other social settings without fear of legal repercussions.

The Gambling Commission’s warning was designed to coincide with the start of football season, the biggest time of year for fantasy sports play.


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