Fantasy Football is Gambling
According to Forbes.com, “39% of male Fantasy Football players would sacrifice beer for an entire season to win their Fantasy league, 19% would ditch their mobile phone, and a shocking 16% would give up sexual relations” (Somers, 2014). With the popularity fantasy football skyrocketing, this billion-dollar industry has become synonymous with gambling thus Senior Enlisted Leaders must educate themselves and their Sailors, to understand the rules regulations and consequences of participating in a fantasy football league for money. This paper examines the background and impact of Department of Defense (DOD) employees and military service members who participated in fantasy football leagues for money while on DOD installations.
Fantasy football has become a staple amongst a large population of football fans and this now common form of entertainment is impacting Sailors in the workplace. This paper studies the ethics in two cases where gambling and fantasy football conjoin on DOD installations. One case occurred prior to the passing of 31 U.S.C. 5362 where fantasy sports betting is defined and clarified to be under the umbrella term of “Gambling” while the second case occurred afterwards.
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Case one describes a DOD employee was operating a fantasy football league while on a DOD installation utilizing government computers. During the investigation it was found that each person involved in the league bought in at $20.00. The funds were to be used for an end of season lunch for all participants and the purchase of trophies to be presented to the top performers. It is important to note that this case occurred prior to the passage of 31 U.S.C. 5362 which defines betting or wagering as, “the staking or risking by any person of something of value upon the outcome of a contest of others, a sporting event, or a game subject to chance, upon an agreement or understanding that the person or another person will receive something of value in the event of a certain outcome” (31 U.S.C. 5362, 2006). 31.U.S.C 5362 further defined that participation in fantasy football does not constitute gambling as long as “All prizes and awards offered to winning participants are established and made known to the participants in advance of the game or contest and their value is not determined by the number of participants or the amount of any fees paid by those participants” (31 U.S.C. 5362, 2006). In this case it was determined that the violation was based upon the Joint Ethics Regulation where it is deemed unethical to utilize government assets to perform any sort of gambling.
The second case involved members from the Air National Guard who paid $10.00 to join a fantasy football league utilizing government computers. Terms of the league were, the winner of the league had to buy all other participants pizza at the conclusion of the contest. Investigation concluded that the winner expended more on pizza than actual winnings and that while the league was performed on government computers, it was only conducted during lunch and break periods.
Fantasy football may not appear to be gambling on a surface level however, the fact that when money is exchanged for the opportunity of winning pending on the outcome of a sporting event coupled with being on a DOD installation, clearly meets the DOD’s definition of unethical behavior and gambling. “While on Government-owned or leased property or on duty for the Government (for military members, this means, in this context, present for duty), an employee shall not conduct or participate in any gambling activity, including operating a gambling device, conducting a lottery or pool, participating in a game for money or property, or selling or purchasing a numbers slip or ticket” (Department of the Navy Joint Ethics Regulation, 2011).
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In both cases all personnel involved conducted a form of gambling on DOD installations. While the first case happened prior to 31 U.S.C. 5362, the fact that money was exchanged for the opportunity to win more utilizing government computers clearly was a misappropriation of government funds and assets resulting in degraded morale, promotion of unprofessional relationship, and a misuse of government resources. Each of these cases depict decisions whether made at a junior or senior leadership level, that were unethical and ultimately undermines good order and discipline and are not in keeping with Naval Core Values.
This paper discussed the background and impact of DOD employees who participated in fantasy football leagues for money while on DOD installations. With the popularity of fantasy football, Senior Enlisted Leaders must educate themselves and their Sailors, to understand the rules regulations and consequences of participating for money on DOD installations. In defining leadership and ethics, President Dwight Eisenhower stated, “The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office” (Eisenhower, 2016). Senior Enlisted Leaders must meet this call to ethical leadership in every way. Without this standard, the United States and every service sworn to defend her will eventually fail.
- 31 U.S.C. 5362. (2006, October 13). 31 U.S. Code § 5362 – Definitions. Unknown, Unknown, United States. Retrieved January 10, 2019, from https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/31/5362#fn002094
- Department of the Navy Joint Ethics Regulation. (2011, Novemeber 17). DOD 5500.07-R, The Joint Ethics Regulation (JER), including Changes 1-7. Washington D.C., Washington D.C. Retrieved December 24, 2018, from http://ethics.iit.edu/ecodes/node/5475
- Eisenhower, D. (2016, Unknown Unknown). 21 Military Leader Quotes any Manager can learn from. Unknown, Unknown, Unknown. Retrieved January 12, 2019, from https://getlighthouse.com/blog/military-leader-quotes-manager-learn/
- Somers, R. (2014, September 12). 5 Facts You Didn’t Know About Fantasy Football. Unkown, Unknown, USA. Retrieved December 23, 2018, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/sap/2014/09/12/5-facts-you-didnt-know-about-fantasy-football/#51f3770e4419
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