FanDuels and DraftKings: How Is That Not Gambling?

gambling
Seriously, how is this not gambling?

According to the National Law Journal:

FanDuel Inc. and DraftKings Inc. are facing about 40 class actions claiming that the online daily fantasy sport sites fraudulently enticed customers into participating in illegal gambling.
Lawyers on both sides are seeking to coordinate all the federal class actions, filed in 13 states, into multidistrict litigation.
 
The lawsuits were brought after the New York Attorney General’s Office began investigating whether FanDuel and DraftKings were illegally promoting gambling in violation of state laws. On Nov. 10, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sent letters to both companies to cease operations; FanDuel and DraftKings have sued to block those orders.
 
Now both sites are being hammered by class actions brought on behalf of their customers. Most of the lawsuits allege consumer fraud and false advertising and seek reimbursement for lost money and signup fees totaling from 25 cents up to thousands of dollars. They also accuse both companies of insider trading, alleging that consumers wouldn’t have signed up on their sites if they had known employees were participating in the contests with non-public information.
 
The recent scandal over the fantasy sports sites erupted after a DraftKings employee named Ethan Haskell inadvertently released internal data about a popular contest before the real National Football League games involved had started—and then went on to win $350,000 on FanDuel. Both companies have since banned their employees from participating in games.
 
“There’s handicapping going on inside these companies,” said Hunter Shkolnik, of New York’s Napoli Shkolnik, a plaintiffs attorney who filed a motion last month before the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to coordinate all the lawsuits in the Southern District of New York. “It’s like the house is betting against their customers.”

 

Gambling

31 U.S. Code § 5362 states gambling does not include (my emphasis bolded):

..participation in any fantasy or simulation sports game or educational game or contest in which (if the game or contest involves a team or teams) no fantasy or simulation sports team is based on the current membership of an actual team that is a member of an amateur or professional sports organization (as those terms are defined in section 3701 of title 28) and that meets the following conditions:
 
(I) 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.
 
(II) All winning outcomes reflect the relative knowledge and skill of the participants and are determined predominantly by accumulated statistical results of the performance of individuals (athletes in the case of sports events) in multiple real-world sporting or other events.
 
(III) No winning outcome is based—
 
(aa) on the score, point-spread, or any performance or performances of any single real-world team or any combination of such teams; or
 
(bb) solely on any single performance of an individual athlete in any single real-world sporting or other event.

 
Like with most other things deemed to be vice, gambling should be legalized, taxed, and regulated. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been in many places yet, and the bottom line is that the advertising they use screams gambling. If they had told the truth, that it’s in fact a game of skill where the average participant has about a 1% chance of winning due to the presence of so called “sharks” who create algorithms that spit out thousands of possible “winning” lineups over thousands of user accounts, they may have bought themselves some time. But truth in advertising does not necessarily make for effective advertising. Better to make people think they could win a fortune on game changing plays by players you, the average joe, were savvy enough to pick. That’ll bring in billions. While it did, the question it begs is how is that not gambling?
 

This Is The Beating Ronda Rousey and Sportsbooks Took

rousey
Ronda Rousey got knocked the f*ck out. So did sportsbooks.

Ronda Rousey released the following statement:

I just wanted to thank everyone for the love and support. I appreciate the concerns for my health but I’m fine. As I had mentioned before, I’m going to take a little bit of time, but I’ll be back.

 
This was a beating to end all beatings. At no time was Rousey ever winning this fight. Highlights below:
 

 
Holly Holm and those who aren’t fans of Ronda Rousey (yours truly) are the only winners here. Vegas sportsbooks were destroyed by those betting on the huge underdog Holm. Holm opened at 14-1 at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook and was gradually bet down to 8-1 in the weeks leading up to fight. I wouldn’t have bet her because of the Floyd Mayweather principle of safe bets in combat sports, but many people love betting small amounts of money on huge underdogs for large payouts in case things such as this happen.
 
“We definitely came out on the wrong side,” said Michael Grodsky, spokesman for William Hill, where 96 percent of the wagers backed Holm. Those tickets represented just 28 percent of the money, but any book paying out more than a quarter of its handle to a 13-2 underdog loses money in bunches. “We needed Rousey just like we typically need Mayweather when he is a big favorite.”
 
More money was wagered on the Rousey-Holm fight than on any of Rousey’s fights to date,, and about one-third as much as is typically wagered on an NFL game, estimated R.J. Bell, founder of handicapping website Pregame.com. MGM sports book director Jay Rood said that while the fight wasn’t heavily bet, most of the money they handled was on Holm. “We did not do well,” he said in an e-mail.

It’s Protest Season: Dartmouth

Dartmouth
As with any movement, outliers from BLM can’t tarnish the entire movement.

From a protester at Thetab.com

Hundreds of Dartmouth students and community members participated in the blackout protest last night. I was proud to be one of them.

It was inspiring to walk through campus all in black, and to see so many other students doing the same.

But I didn’t make it to the end of the protest, by which time a small group of participants had descended to aggressive verbal harassment of their fellow students.

But let’s start at the beginning.

Structural racism is a reality in the United States, and students all around are beginning to take note.

We have all read bout tensions at the University of Missouri. Racism at Dartmouth takes on a more subtle form, but it is alive and well.

We saw it when, just hours after the NAACP put up a display of t-shirts to commemorate the 74 unarmed people killed by police this year, which included 28 black shirts to represent unarmed black people killed by police, the shirts were torn down.

Students around the country have organized a “blackouts” in response to racist incidents and in solidarity with students who do not feel safe on their college campuses.

At our blackout, protestors began to gather in Novack at around 7:40pm. By eight there was a large crowd in the cafe.

There was limited presence from SNS, but a presence nonetheless.

Following a short speech, the crowd walked to Dartmouth Hall, shouting in protest and singing “We shall overcome.”

Crowds gathered underneath Dartmouth Hall shouting for justice. After several minutes, the crowd gathered into a circle, where a passionate speech was given.

Several minutes of silence followed the speech in honor of the people who have lost their lives to police violence.

Following the moment of silence, the protestors went back to Novack. An anonymous 19 student who was studying in Novack describes the incident that followed:

““I was sitting in Novack studying when a large group of protestors came in chanting ‘black lives matter.’ They gathered in the center of Novack amongst the tables where there were a number of people working peacefully.

They kept shouting and started banging on tables. They demanded that people stand up to show their solidarity. Those who did not stand were targeted and questioned.

There was a girl studying in one of the study rooms in Novack and the protestors stormed the room. She closed the door on one of the protestors which resulted in rage from many protestors. The girl then exited silently through the crowd while protestors screamed at her calling her a white bitch.

At one point the protestors crowded around a guy sitting on his laptop and stared at him screaming at him ‘If we cant study, you can’t study.’”

The large group of protestors began to move up and yell at students on first floor Berry. Students were again yelled at to stand up in support of the protest, and many did so, either out of support or fear.

After making a girl cry, a protestor screamed “Fuck your white tears.”

I was startled by the aggression from a small minority of students towards students in the library, many of whom were supporters of the movement.

From what I witnessed, a small number of the protestors resorted to aggressive verbal harassment. I didn’t see any physical aggression.

At that moment, the protest strategies became. counterproductive. I chose to leave the event before it was over.

It is important to note that a large majority of the protestors did not engage in harassment of other students, but they are now being labelled as aggressive because of the small minority. No one condones this kind of activity, but it’s expected. People have been silent for too long.

There seems to be an idea post-civil rights that there is no racism in America, or racism is nonexistent. Is this true? Let’s take a look at the disparity for crack to cocaine. The chemical make up of these two drugs is identical. The effects are nearly identical. The user demographic for cocaine is white people. The user demographic for crack is black people. The penalty for crack compared to cocaine is 18x longer. This is progress compared to the 100:1 disparity that existed prior 2010.

Racism in America is institutionalized. There are constructs, both social and otherwise, that prohibit people of color from voting, holding a job, owning property, etc. It would be a grave remission to ignorantly assume that people of color are not subjugated in various ways to this day requiring members of those groups to take extreme action. I don’t condone these particular acts, but the aims of BLM are still valid and will not be undermined.

Sorry, We’re Not At War With Radical Islam

Radical Islam
The masses are yelling rabble rabble Radical Islam not knowing what that really means.

The same people calling for a war on religion seem to be the same ones complaining about it being called a war on religion. Afterall, how is calling the perpetrators of these attacks jihadists not broad enough?
 

Radical Islam

A convincing case can be made that all terrorists by definition are jihadists; however, not all Islamists are terrorists. Why pigeon-hole the vast majority of peaceful islamists with those that have a decidedly different interpretation of religion? If you want to be all encompassing why not simply call the terrorists we are at war with radical theists?
 
Is it justified to lump all Christian beliefs with the Westboro Baptist Church? I believe in a higher spiritual being but not organized religion. I actually see little difference between the major monotheistic religions. They are all equally opaque to me.
 

Radical Christianity

I do know that people have been using various religions to justify their heinous actions for a very long time including Christianity. Dr. George Tiller was murdered by christian anti-abortion activist Scott Roeder. Dr. John Britton was murdered by Christian anti-abortion activist Paul Hill. Dr. Barnett Sepian was killed by anti-abortion activist James Klopp. Christian anti-abortion activist John Salvi killed two people at The Brookline Planned Parenthood Clinic and Pre-term Health Services. Christian Jim D. Adkisson shot up The Tennessee Unitarian Universalist Church because he hated gays and liberals. Finally, Christian Eric Rudolph admitted to a religious motivation behind the Centennial Park Olympic Bombings in Atlanta in 1996. If you need more domestic examples, here’s a great list. Abroad, it’s even worse.
 
America’s most notorious terrorist organization of the 19th and 20th centuries, the KKK, explicitly defended their actions based on their interpretation of Christian (Protestants) teachings. Are Christians responsible for the actions of the KKK because they purport to be Christians, or do Christians have nothing to do with them? I believe people have their own beliefs and are responsible for their own actions. If we are our brother’s keeper, let’s make sure we are in all cases and not just cases of Islam.
 

It’s Protest Season: Smith

smith
There’s a long history of activism at Smith so don’t think they would miss out on what’s happening now.

Students at Smith College, a private women’s school in Northampton, walked out of class en masse Wednesday at noon in support of the injustices students of color face on college campuses nationwide. About 200 people, including students, professors and the dean of the college, gathered in the middle of campus. Someone started chanting “who’s not here” to call attention to white students who don’t carry the burden of racism, and for students of color who can’t be at Smith because of institutional racism.

The message is clear from these millennials to the overwhelmingly older people whom are complaining. The problem is existent and recognized on more than just individual campuses where individual events take place. Furthermore, there is no plan for this awareness or recognition to wane or stop altogether. Racism is an everyday factor for people of color, and the more people who stand up to it the better.

From Missouri, to Yale, Ithaca, Smith and Beyond

As I write this, there are protests springing up all over colleges in New York concerning a whole host of issues from free tuition to police brutality to raising the minimum wage. I’m reminded of the riots that broke out around the country notably in Ferguson, Baltimore, and New York. The scary thing for many people is that for all of the “racial division” I’ve heard about, there seems to be a lot of multiracial (read white) support for these issues that overwhelmingly affect women, minorities, and people of color.

It seems, via these protests, that we are getting the dialogue that so many people who oppose the protests are looking for. Free speech works both ways. The fear of administrative speech codes, which some protesters have asked for, are not the threat here. The realization that there is power in solidarity, communication and purpose is what scares many. Afterall, atleast in the eyes of those protesting, the world that we have left them sucks; therefore, the advice that we give them on how things should work will also most likely suck. I don’t blame them. Rage on.

The Charm Podcast w/ Bunny: Spiritualism

Welcome to “The Charm,” a new solo audio venture by Bunny Themelis.

I miss being on the main podcast as frequently as I was, but there was stuff I never could get into during those discussions. Mostly nerdy, non-sequitur stuff. Much like my soon-to-be relaunched video series “2Geeky (for the streets),” not everything I focus on translates well in a comedy club.

As some of you may know, I am a trivia champion.
Literally: I was on “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” this past January and walked away with a pretty penny. Maybe you, too, can collect seemingly useless knowledge and go on TV and win money. IT CAN HAPPEN!

But how did I get so good at trivia, you might wonder. Well, it was not on purpose!
I simply am attracted to history and all the stranger-than-fiction factoids it supplies.

So for some of my podcasts, I am going to be regaling you with the historical curiosities I love. Humorously, of course.
 

 

Spiritualism

This week, I have a couple tales surrounding Spiritualism, a 19th century belief system that had people holding seances to commune with the dead. There was a good mix of true believers and intentional frauds in the mix, using all kinds of techniques to contact the “other side.”

While it is tempting to relate them to the New Age gurus of today, they really were not seen as “out there” or antithetical to mainstream Christian dogma. In fact, many would hold seances and then attend church the next day. Which is very unlike today when many Christian churches advise against, say, even trying yoga.

So Spiritualism was all the rage. Baltimore was the birthplace of the Ouija board, and it has a spooky history. I lay out just how it went from beloved innocent toy to tool of the devil. (Hint: the Exorcist)

I also go in on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, who was big on Spiritualism. So, into it that he allowed himself to believe some pretty silly stuff.

Check it out!

It’s Protest Season: Ithaca

Ithaca
Protests in Ithaca are nothing new.

Tensions flared last month at Ithaca College when students say a prominent alumnus made racially-insensitive remarks to another speaker on a panel at a campus event describing the black student as a savage when she said she had a savage hunger for learning. I’m paraphrasing, because like the incidents at Missouri and Yale, the specific incidents are not as important as understanding they are indicative of a much larger culture prompting this reaction.
 
School President Tom Rochon released a statement four days later. “The college cannot prevent the use of hurtful language on campus,” the statement said.
 
“Such language, intentional or unintentional, exists in the world and will seep into our community. We can’t promise that the college will never host a speaker who could say something racist, homophobic, misogynistic, or otherwise disrespectful.”
 
The first amendment does not guarantee freedom from speech you don’t like, it guarantees the freedom of all thoughts to be expressed even if they’re unpopular. Colleges have always encouraged freedom of expression, but the trend (at least from some adults) is to silence speech and expression being heard by all if it is not liked by them.
 

Millennials

It sounds like they know their voices can be heard. You can mock them all you want, but Missouri’s President has stepped down and the chancellor is being repositioned within the university system. Do not discount this generation. It’s disconcerting to many that those who want to ignore or deny inequity in our land will not be in power in society going forward.
 
Because of the success in Missouri, I feel the sentiment will spread like wildfire to campuses all across this country. Students see they have power to get things done. As always it takes a spark to get things started, and Missouri may have been it.
 
There was a time when racial diversity was an affirmative action discussion in persuasive argument class. Colleges have come a long way since then but still have a long way to go. I’m all for behaving like rational, respectful and educated adults. Discussion of incidents and communal decisions on what practices should be adopted or amended going forward is fine; however, there is nothing wrong for calling for an immediate firing of an employee. Learning how to work together to ensure an agreeable environment on campus must start with respect for one another from administration on down.
 
Certainly, the goal is to work together first to determine what is appropriate and next how to enforce it. But protest is as good a vehicle for achieving these aims as town hall and panel discussions. Racism is certainly systemic, and firing people won’t solve the entirety of the problem. It does let people know that you’re serious about solving the problem.

Culturebroker Radio: Values and Media

Mike straight beastin' on a duck face
Benny Versus The Beast from Austin, TX complete my very masculine with duckface

Our culture is lousy with content. So many things are being created that it is an actual full time job just to experience it even a small part of it let alone critique it. Critical cultural curation is more important than ever. Who has time to watch stuff they hate? Today, it’s all about word-of-mouth from people you trust. Not people you know, mind you… Your friends utterly terrible at knowing what’s any good and even worse at knowing what’s good for you.

Luckily, there is a through-line of sorts throughout media, art and humanity connects us despite ourselves. It is our values that lay the foundation for the feeling behind every decision we make. Whenever we feel triumphant or terrible afterward is always a result of our decisions aligning with our values. My father calls it a “personal philosophy about life,” Rod Tidwell called it “the Quan.” How we see, create, and even enjoy the world is a direct reflection of what means the most to us.


 

Values

On this episode of Culturebroker Radio, Lola Bakare and I discuss the context of values in a variety of films, television programs, and music before going to a more personal conversation about our own values. Interestingly, we were prompted to discussion by Rihanna’s recent release of the Bitch Better Have My Money video. It’s amazing how a song I found terribly annoying and devoid of substance is an anthem of empowerment to the person across from me. Even more amazing is how later on, after watching the BBHMM video, my entire position on the song shifted. The video in particular is quite simply a well realized, visceral and intelligent piece of short filmmaking.  In my mind, “BBHMM” has gone  from ‘commercially focused schlock’ to ‘magnificent artistic vision that I was just simply unable to connect with.’ Kudos to directors Rihanna and Megaforce for an excellent showing behind the camera. And props for getting naked breasts on Youtube. #FreeTheNipple

We also dive into Lola’s love affair with Elliot Lester and David Oyelowo’s, Nightingale, the horror that was Richard Nixon as portrayed in his own words on Nixon on Nixon, and Lola’s critique of Terri Gross’s interview style (despite listening to everything she does). Who we are is reflected in our  values. Are our values reflected in what we love? In being authentic, hopefully we are able to better understand why we love what we love as well and what it means to the world around us.

Also, go grab our intro track this week, the Minesweepa remix “Bitch Better Have My Money (Minesweepa Remix)” over on Soundcloud as a free download. It is quite excellent.

BitchBetterHaveMyMoolah
And big ups to The Fabulous Moolah, may she rest in peace in wrestler heaven

The Culturebroker Radio Musicast #6: Austin, LA, Miami

The Digital Wild from Austin, TX
The Digital Wild from Austin, TX

Austin musicians Andrew Molever and Michael Bridgett choose choose recent songs from artists from three different locations in an attempt to showcase the sounds the world is making. Your town. Your scene. Your music. The Culturebroker Radio Musicast sonic guidebook can help get more artists heard and enjoyed. You’re busy. Let us help track the tracks.
 

 
The awesome thing big cities have a ridiculous amount of history they accumulate. This was especially true before the internet made the world so much smaller. Back in the bad old days, a musician really had to really solidify themselves in a region before getting a to tour and rock stages anywhere else. Often times, making a career in music meant relocating to the biggest, bestest city you could and grinding it out until you “made it.”

Could you really imagine Los Angeles bands like Guns N Roses, NWA, Fishbone, Van Halen, the Red Hot Chilli Peppers unconnected from the mystique of LA? What about Miami with acts like Gloria Estefan, Miami Sound Machine, Sam & Dave, KC and the Sunshine Band, and of course 2 Live Crew (a west coast act until Liberty City’s own Uncle Luke Campbell took the group in a more expressly Miami direction). In some ways, those acts sound like where they’re from.

Despite the ability for one to become an internet sensation with the right hook or video, many would say things have changed all that much. Competition remains fierce among musicians in the big city as most everyone would rather be playing music full time than doing anything else. Musicians have to drum up support, make amazing art, and build relationships not matter what era they play in.

This week, Andrew and I dive into the extensive talent catalogue of Austin, Los Angeles and Miami, looking for something fresh and new to sink teeth into. Is the big city soundscape different from smaller cities like Austin? Is Mike way too into digital music? Will Andrew ever learn how to rap? As always, dive into the bands we showcase and show support your local music. If you’d like us to feature your city or have a band we should check out, let us know in the comments or on social media. Feel free to stop us at our shows. We love meeting new people.

Austin, Texas

The Digital WildRiskin’

Magna CardaRyan

 

Miami, Florida

AfrobetaClones (Live)

Ketchy ShubyThe Watermelon

 

Los Angeles, California

The Chew Toys Leather Sweater

VexareVanishing Point

Culturebroker Radio Musicast #4: Austin, Houston, Dallas

Mike straight beastin' on a duck face
Benny Versus The Beast from Austin, TX complete my very masculine with duckface
Austin musicians Andrew Molever and Michael Bridgett choose choose recent songs from artists from three different locations in an attempt to showcase the sounds the world is making. Your town. Your scene. Your music. The Culturebroker Radio Musicast exists to get more artists heard and enjoyed. You’re busy. Let us help you track the tracks.

Real musicians live on the road…

As Andrew travels Texas to another gig, I set up shop for our first ever All Texas Show on Culturebroker Musicast. We look at three of the biggest cities in the biggest state to pull down big sounds from Austin, Houston, and Dallas. The goal as always is to deliver something new to your ears. A band you can enjoy, a sound you can get behind. Listen to the podcast below.

One of the best parts about playing music in Texas is how different regions can come with an entirely different flavor. The rappers in Dallas speak differently than the rappers in Houston. You can find an entirely different top tier style by driving a few hours.

This week’s tracks also features music from one of my own projects, a ska, punk, soul band called Benny Versus The Beast. While Texas isn’t exactly known for ska, there remains a dedicated and loyal scene of punkers and rude boys and girls that keep the music alive in all over the state. With Benny playing a Halloween show with classic two tone band The Toasters at the historic Austin reggae club Flamingo Cantina on October 30, there has never been more positive proof in the power of community. As they say, Ska isn’t dead. You just stopped listening.

When the music is good and people support it, artists get paid which allows them to make more and better music. With me recording this episode from Boston, a classic hotbed for punk and ska, we added a bonus track from an ambitious ska band playing around town to get the proper vibe going.

The best thing you can do for any artist you enjoy is come out and be seen. Buy the band drink or two then share their music amongst your circles both real and digital. Meeting new people who like what you do is the best kind of appreciation, though hiring them to play your parties, family reunions and weddings never hurts.

Austin

Benny Versus the BeastHold Me Back

A Giant Dog Cleveland Steven

 

Houston

Adrian PeaceCold Nights

Fat TonySmart Ass Black Boy

 

Dallas

Quaker City Nighthawks Fox in the Hen House

Buffalo Black1984

 

Boston

The New LimitsCompass

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