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CBS Sports Continues To Inch Closer Toward 'Daily Fantasy Football'

Marc Edelman in Forbes, September 10, 2013

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This week, CBS CBS -1.06% moved another step closer to offering daily fantasy football when it launched its Four Week Player Challenge – a pay-to-enter fantasy football contest that lasts for just four slates of NFL games.

CBS’s continued movement into shorter duration fantasy football games comes at a time when the popularity of daily fantasy football has been rising.

However, it also comes in the face of criticism levied against daily fantasy sports by some executives within the professional sports industry.  For example, this spring Major League Baseball Advanced Media CEO Robert Bowman told the New York Times that he believes that daily fantasy sports games are “akin to a flip of the coin, which is the definition of gambling.”

The current legal status of daily and other short-duration fantasy sports contests remains relatively unsettled. Yet, perhaps CBS’s comfort in offering short-duration fantasy football stems from the lack of any government challenge thus far.  Indeed, CBS even ran its own short-duration playoff fantasy football contest back in January 2013 without legal challenge.

Nevertheless, there are two private litigations against daily fantasy sports that remain on the docket in the state of Illinois.  These lawsuits seek to disgorge the winnings of daily fantasy sports participants that have competed on the FanDuel and DraftDay websites.  Preliminary rulings in these cases might come later this year.

Although fear of litigation has not deterred CBS from launching its Four Week Players Challenge, other large fantasy sports websites remain more wary about the potential risks of short-duration gaming.  For example, Yahoo YHOO +1.74% continues to offers full-season versions of fantasy football, but it does not offer any short duration games.

Meanwhile, ESPN , which is owned by Disney, does not offer any form of play-for-cash fantasy football.