Jeb Bush and Chris Christie Defend Daily Fantasy Sports at the 3rd GOP Debate
The 3rd Republican Presidential Debate featured a discussion of daily fantasy sports. The brief debate between former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was a surreal moment for the DFS industry, though the GOP candidates showed more common sense than politicians are given credit for having normally.
The general public did not appear to give either candidate much credit for those answers. Jeb Bush received bad reviews for his debate performance for the third straight time, and his candidacy is thought to be in turmoil. The chief operating officer of his campaign, Christine Ciccone, left his campaign two days after the debate. The move came a week after Jeb Bush announced a 40% payroll reduction, due to lack of money reserves.
Gov. Chris Christie, on the other hand, received strong marks for his debate performance. The Washington Post cited his answer to the DFS question as his strongest moment. Despite his performance, the New Jersey governor did not appear to make up much ground. Donald Trump was said to have won the debate by 54% of responders, while Ted Cruz garnered 22% of the votes by responders, along with most of the press for going after the moderators.
Carl Quintanilla Asks DFS Question
One of the moderators in the debate, Carl Quintanilla, asked Jeb Bush whether he believed the federal government should be involved in regulating daily fantasy football. The question was so out of left field for a substantive national political debate that it was one several lists of worst questions (in a debate where the moderators were roundly criticized), that it might have produced one of the most genuine moments of the night.
Jeb Bush and Chris Christie, neither one likely to have been prepped by their people on DFS talking points, each showed common sense in answering the question. Jeb Bush also showed he’s a fairly significant fantasy football geek, which is actaully endearing in its own way.
The Washington Post transcript of the moment reads:
Quintanilla: Governor Bush, daily fantasy sports has become a phenomenon in this country, will award billions of dollars in prize money this year. But to play you have to assess your odds, put money at risk, wait for an outcome that’s out of your control. Isn’t that the definition of gambling, and should the Federal Government treat it as such?
Bush: Well, first of all, I’m 7 and 0 in my fantasy league.
Quintanilla: I had a feeling you were going to brag about that.
Bush: Gronkowski is still going strong. I have Ryan Tannehill, Marco, as my quarterback, he was 18 for 19 last week. So I’m doing great. But we’re not gambling.
And I think this has become something that needs to be looked at in terms of regulation. Effectively it is day trading without any regulation at all. And when you have insider information, which apparently has been the case, where people use that information and use big data to try to take advantage of it, there has to be some regulation.
If they can’t regulate themselves, then the NFL needs to look at just, you know, moving away from them a little bit. And there should be some regulation. I have no clue whether the federal government is the proper place, my instinct is to say, hell no, just about everything about the federal government.
Christie: Carl, are we really talking about getting government involved in fantasy football?
We have–wait a second, we have $19 trillion in debt. We have people out of work. We have ISIS and al Qaeda attacking us. And we’re talking about fantasy football? Can we stop?
Christie: How about this? How about we get the government to do what they’re supposed to be doing, secure our borders, protect our people, and support American values and American families. Enough on fantasy football. Let people play, who cares?
Ted Cruz on Moderator Questions
Gov. Christie’s dismissal of Carl Quintanilla’s daily fantasy sports question was not the only time in the night that the candidates criticized the CNBC moderators’ questions. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas was the first to broach the subject, when he took on the moderators for trying to pit the Republican candidates against one another.
Sen. Cruz said, “This is not a cage match. And, you look at the questions–‘Donald Trump, are you a comic-book villain?’ ‘Ben Carson, can you do math?’ ‘John Kasich, will you insult two people over here?’ ‘Marco Rubio, why don’t you resign?’ ‘Jeb Bush, why have your numbers fallen?’ How about talking about the substantive issues the people care about?”
Criticism for the Debate Questions
The senator from Texas garnered a major round of applause for making the point. After the debate, most of the candidates complained about the line of questioning, along with pundits on both sides of the aisle.
The Washington Post called the debate, “CNBC’s really bad debate night.”
The audience booed questions on multiple occasions. The Twitterverse exploded in taunts and outrage at the line of questioning. The bipartisan reaction against the questioning led Fox New’s Howard Kurtz to say, “The moderators had a worse night than the New York Mets…this was a trainwreck.”
Pierre Garcon Sues FanDuel
It was probably inevitable, but Washington D.C. and daily fantasy sports appear to be converging a lot these days. Washington Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garcon filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of NFL players against FanDuel this week. Garcon’s filing says the daily fantasy site uses player names without their consent. Pierre Garcon’s name is used frequently in television commercials. A 28-minute informercial from FanDuel also uses Pierre Garcon’s name 53 times.
FanDuel competitor DraftKings is not named in the lawsuit. DraftKings has a deal with the NFL Players Association which allows it to use player names, so Rob Gronkowsky and the NFLPA is compensated when his name appears in ads. It is unknown whether Garcon’s case will stand up in court. The U.S. Court of Appeals produced a ruling in 1997 which said federal copyright statutes do not allow for the ownership of data. The case in which that ruling was handed down was NBA v. Motorola and Stats Inc.