Last Week Tonight used their main segment to discuss daily fantasy sports conglomerates and whether or not participation in those activities is considered gambling. They focused mainly on FanDuel and DraftKings, two of the biggest fantasy sport companies in America, who seem to be in bed with nearly every other company in the States (PopWrapped excluded). This topic has been in the news a lot lately, with the matter current before the courts in New York. In addition, New York's General Attorney recently sent a cease and desist letter to both FanDuel and DraftKings. The issue is polarizing and can be confusing, but thankfully host John Oliver and the team at Last Week Tonight were there to break it down.
Oliver opened the show by discussing the terrorist attacks in Paris with "a moment of premium cable profanity" which brilliantly expressed the anger many of us felt as we learned of the events.
The show moved on to discuss China's "Singles Day", their biggest shopping day and a holiday intended to celebrate single people. It had been a "novelty" holiday until an online retailer, Alibaba.com, decided to make it a spending holiday in 2009. This year, the retailer made nearly $14 billion in one day. The day was promoted through a four-hour televised event featuring storm troopers, Adam Lambert on an iron throne, and even an appearance by Daniel Craig. As Oliver quipped, "congratulations China, you just out America-ed America. Well done!"
Next, Oliver discussed the relationship between the U.K. and India, specifically the first official visit by Narendra Modi, India's Prime Minister, to the United Kingdom. The visit occurred at a time where many in India are calling for reparations for the way the U.K. treated its citizens when India was still a British colony. Many are preparing to legally challenge ownership of the Koh-i-Noor diamond, which was "removed" from India and presented to Queen Victoria. British leaders, including Prime Minister David Cameron, have staunchly refused to return the jewel.
The main segment of the evening involved daily fantasy sports, and whether or not they constitute gambling. Oliver focused on two major fantasy sport companies, FanDuel and DraftKings. If those names seem familiar, it's likely because you've seen their ads online, on TV, or in other media. These two companies seem to have partnerships with nearly every media outlet in the United States, HBO included, prompting Oliver to point out that "this joke about being compromised is, in a sense, brought to you by FanDuel".
Oliver zeroed in on whether or not these fantasy leagues constitute online gambling. He mentioned a 2006 law passed with the aim of getting tough on online gambling, but at the time, fantasy sports weren't included. Back in 2006 most fantasy leagues consisted of office pools or casual bets among friends. Since then, it's turned in to a multi-billion dollar industry that looks an awful lot like gambling. FanDuel and DraftKings, and their supporters, claim that it isn't gambling but rather a skill-based game. They also claim that anyone can win as long as he or she selects the right players. Oliver responded perfectly, saying that "to say anyone can succeed on daily fantasy is a bit like saying that I could be the next James Bond. Sure, it's a mathematical possibility, but it's a long shot."
Last Week Tonight ended the segment with another one of their clever spoof ads; this one featuring Seth Rogan, Kathryn Hahn, and Martin Starr and touching on the realities of daily fantasy sports.
Watch the segment below.