Posted on May 29, 2024

Activist Rev. Al Sharpton Issues Stark Warning to the FTC About Two Gambling Giants

Mike Freeman, USA Today, May 23, 2024

Civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton has written a letter to the Federal Trade Commission about what he called a “gambling duopoly” of DraftKings and FanDuel that could disproportionately impact Black Americans, including Black athletes.

In the letter, obtained by USA TODAY Sports, Sharpton writes to FTC Chair Lina Khan that the domination of the two gambling platforms threatens consumer protection in the market.

“As you are well aware, DraftKings and FanDuel dominate the online sports betting market in the United States,” Sharpton wrote. “As of September 2023, they had a combined market share of approximately 75% in mobile sports betting. Their Sports Betting Alliance (SBA), which includes fellow legacy operators BetMGM and Fanatics Sportsbook, likely controls close to 90% of the market now.

“As a civil rights advocate, I write to you because their dominance and influence have raised serious concerns about competition, fairness, and consumer protection in the market. This is especially troubling when we consider the demographic profile of their user base, with a significant portion being Black Americans.

“When a duopoly takes hold, consumers are the biggest losers, and the most vulnerable consumers − including Black Americans − bear the brunt of that harm,” Sharpton says in the letter. “Indeed, Black Americans on the whole are more likely to engage in sports betting; among young adults, they sports bet at a higher rate than any other demographic (68%). They also bet more money than any other ethnic group.”

Spokespersons from DraftKings and FanDuel could not be immediately reached for comment.

An NCAA survey from last year showed gambling is prevalent among young adults, particularly on college campuses. The survey also found that 68% of Black or African American respondents engaged in betting, which the NCAA said was the highest percentage among the demographics surveyed. The NCAA said Hispanic or Latino respondents engaged at 63%, Asian 55%, and white or Caucasian at 54%.

“Sports are at the center of American culture,” Sharpton writes, “and Black athletes are the center of American sports. If sports betting and gaming run rampant and infiltrates the integrity of the games, that can adversely affect both Black athletes and consumers.”