Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Daily Fantasy and Divorce

No this is not a post about sex.   I hear enough about sex as it is, since the no fault grounds requires the parties not to have lived under the same roof or had sexual relations for at least 12 months.   Then there is the adultery grounds.   Just no more sex, please.

This is about Daily Fantasy Sports sites.   They've been in the news lately and Congress is investigating.   Oh goodie.   How many boxes of reports will that be?   Can we bet on the over/under?   Ooops sorry.   Anyway ...

That's the first issue.   Is it gambling or not?   Technically no.   The NFL and other major sports slipped in an exception to the Internet Gambling Bill that said fantasy sports is not gambling because it requires skill.   So does poker, but we can't have that on the internets anymore.   Besides, you really want to go into court and split that hair?   You think a judge is going to be amused?   You are putting money down on proving you can pick better players than the other people in your "league."   You can lose that money or you can win it back and then some.   If it looks like a duck, it quacks like a duck ...

So, you actually have some skill at DFS and won big.   Yeah right.   The sites pay for all those ads with the losers money.   Chances are you paying for their kids to go to private school instead of your own kids.    You really want to explain to a judge that you didn't pay the mortgage because LeSean McCoy went out with a pulled hammy?   Or the guy who hit it big last week so you all picked him up was benched this week?  

Okay, okay, some people win so they can keep enticing people to play.   Guess what?   That is now income.    No wait it's not because I have losses too, you say.   Sure.   Still income.   As my good friend, Taxgirl pointed out in her great article on DFS, you will get a 1099 from the site at the end of the year with your winnings.   1099 is income for tax purposes.   And it darn sure is for child support purposes.   The Court likes to find money for child support and takes a broad definition of income.   In fact, it Maryland, Sec. 12-201 of the Family Code specifically states that "prizes" may be considered income based on the case.   So you can argue it's not gambling, but it is still a prize for winning.    Do it on a regular basis and I can almost guarantee a judge will consider it income.   And I give very few guarantees about things.

Fine, okay, it's income for child support, but surely not alimony right?    Well, maybe not.   But alimony is based on ability to pay after your basic necessities are taken care of.    Or as one judge put it in a case involving gambling, but not DFS, this is a luxury.   Luxuries you can skip altogether and use that money to pay your ex-spouse alimony.   Again, if you got money to put down on your "team" that means you have money to spare.    If you have money to spare, you can pay to help your spouse out.  It is that simple. Or you can put it away for your kids' college education.   Even with the low interest rates we have now, it's more a sure thing to grow over time than hoping that your favorite player doesn't get hurt.

Should you never use DFS sites?   Well, until Congress gets done, I wouldn't.    But, putting a couple bucks down for fun every once and awhile is harmless, if you can afford it.   Never ever bet the rent money.   And if you do it all the time, not only will you lose in the long run, but it will be considered income.

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