Skip to main content

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

Al Sharpton cites in letter to FTC that DraftKings, FanDuel control the majority of the sports betting market

In the letter, Sharpton writes to FTC Chair Lina Khan that the oversaturation of the two gambling platforms is negatively affecting 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.”

Sharpton, 69, seeks a more competitive gambling market to help benefit minorities and all 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.”

An NCAA survey from 2023 shows that Black Americans engage in betting the most

According to Mike Freeman of USA TODAY, an NCAA survey from 2023 revealed that gambling is more prevalent among young adults. The survey also found that 68% of Black or African American respondents engaged in betting, 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.”

Sharpton feels that gambling has impacted Black Americans more per capita than any other demographic in the United States, considering the community is just 12% of the nation’s population. He believes the FTC should be held liable.

Sharpton urges FTC to investigate the anti-competitive behavior of the SBA, member companies

“In 2017, the Federal Trade Commission filed a legal action to block the proposed merger of DraftKings and FanDuel, citing that the merger would deprive consumers of the benefits of competition in the fantasy sports market,” Al Sharpton wrote.

“Tad Lipsky, acting director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition, added in a 2017 statement that the FTC ‘is committed to the preservation of competitive markets, which offer consumers the best opportunity to obtain innovative products and services at the most favorable prices and terms consistent with the provision of competitive returns to efficient producers.'”

“Clearly, the successful political exploits of the SBA have allowed Lipsky’s worst fears to come true,” Sharpton added.

“I urge the FTC to investigate the anti-competitive behavior of the SBA and its member companies to ensure that consumers-especially Black Americans-can reap the benefits of a truly competitive market that rewards innovation, value, and consumer protection.”

Neither DraftKings nor FanDuel have issued public statements on Sharpton’s letter. The SBA also has yet to respond.