Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (2014–…): Season 2, Episode 34 - Daily Fantasy Sports - full transcript

John talks about the recent Paris attacks, China's Singles Day, the Koh-i-Noor diamond and Daily Fantasy Sports.

Are you wondering how healthy the food you are eating is? Check it -
Welcome, welcome, welcome
to "Last Week Tonight."

Thank you so much for joining us.

I'm John Oliver, just time
for a quick recap of the week.

And sadly, we must begin
with a few words about France,

which on Friday suffered the deadliest
attack on its soil since World War II.

It's hardly been 48 hours,
and much is still unknown,

but there are a few things
we can say for certain.

And this is when it actually
helps to be on HBO,

where those things can
be said without restraints.

Because after the many necessary
and appropriate moments of silence,

I'd like to offer you a moment
of premium cable profanity.

So, here is where things stand.
First, as of now,

we know this attack was carried out
by gigantic fucking assholes,

unconscionable flaming assholes

possibly working
with other fucking assholes,

definitely working in service
of an ideology of pure assholery.

Second, and this goes almost
without saying,

fuck these assholes !

Fuck them,
if I may say, sideways.

And third...
Third, it is important to remember

nothing about what these assholes
are trying to do is going to work.

France is going to endure.
And I'll tell you why.

If you're in a war of culture
and lifestyle with France,

good fucking luck.

Because, go ahead. Go ahead,
bring your bankrupt ideology,

they'll bring Jean-Paul Sartre,
Edith Piaf, fine wine,

Gauloises cigarettes,
Camus, Camembert,

madeleines, macarons,
Marcel Proust,

and the fucking Croquembouche !

The Croquembouche !

You just brought a philosophy
of rigorous self-abnegation

to a pastry fight, my friend.
You are fucked !

That is a French freedom tower.

So, to the people of France,
our thoughts are truly with you.

I do not doubt there will be more to
say on all of this as events unspool,

but for now, we are going to continue
with the rest of our show.

And let's turn to other parts
of the world. Specifically, China,

manufacturers of everything

except that piece of crap clay jar
you got for Mother's Day.

You're never gonna use it. This was
a big week for the Chinese economy.

The biggest shopping day in the world
has just become even bigger.

Singles' Day in China
has set a sales record.

Singles' Day, China's annual
shopping bonanza.

China, you may have heard,
just wrapped up Singles' Day.

Singles' Day !

Yes, November 11th was
"Singles' Day !" in China.

It's a holiday designed
to commemorate single people.

Because they think the date 11/11
looks like four single people in a row.

Although, honestly, April fourth seems
like a more appropriate Singles' Day

since a four looks like a man
reaching down to masturbate.

Yeah, good luck.
Good luck not thinking of that

every time you see the number four
for the rest of your life.

Singles' Day had been sort of
a novelty holiday until 2009

when the online retailer Alibaba
turned it into a sales event.

And since then,
it's become huge.

It was a record-breaking
Singles' Day for Alibaba,

with the e-commerce titan handling
more than $14 billion in transactions

during China's one-day
shopping bonanza.

Holy shit !

$14 billion.
To put that into perspective,

that's roughly the equivalent
of selling one Rupert Murdoch.

Now, to hit that target this year,
Alibaba pulled out all the stops,

holding a four-hour televised gala

that was part "American Idol,"
part Jerry Lewis telethon,

and part taking peyote in a Chinese
restaurant that's also a video arcade.

This thing had everything

from Imperial stormtroopers,
to clear ball suit fights,

to ball pits of death,

to Adam Lambert singing
from atop an iron throne.

Holy mother of dragons,

the last time something that horrific
took place on a "Game of Thrones" set,

Theon Greyjoy was having
his balls cut off.

And Adam Lambert was by no means
the biggest star they roped in.

Daniel Craig !
Let's welcome Daniel Craig !

James Bond !

Welcome to China !

Oh, no...

I've never seen James Bond
look so awkward and sad,

and most of his girlfriends
have died in front of him.

But perhaps the most inexplicable
celebrity cameo came via pre-tape.

Tonight I wanted to take a moment
to say hello to all of you out there

to wish you
a happy Singles' Day.

I'm sure there will be
loads of deals on candy, too.

Check Tmall and maybe you can
find a few packs of Presidential M&Ms.

What is that accent ?
Even Chinese people must be thinking

"Hold on, isn't he supposed
to be from South Carolina ?

"Then why does he sound like Foghorn
Leghorn with his jaw wired shut ?"

I think we can call it now. $14 billion
spent on shit they don't need,

spurred on by
a bethroned Adam Lambert

and a two-time Oscar winner
hustling candy.

Congratulations, China, you just
out-America'd America. Well done.

And finally this week...

Finally this week, we turn to the UK
and its relationship with India,

or as we once called it,
"Britain's spice rack."

This week, India's
Prime Minster, Narendra Modi,

made his first official
visit to the UK,

the highlight of which
was a speech at Wembley Stadium

featuring fireworks, the Prime
Minister, a spectacular drum battle,

and a rousing speech.

I was told...

that London
would be cold.


not this much.

Okay. Okay. Okay.
Okay, that... Yes.

Fair play.
That was clearly a joke,

but it does also follow in the grand
tradition of the UK underselling

the severity of the conditions
an Indian leader would suffer under.

But for all the spectacle,

this trip had
a little tension behind it.

As you know, India used to be a British
colony. And our behavior was so bad

that in recent years many in India
have called for colonial reparations,

with one particular demand
recently gaining attention.

This is the Kohinoor diamond,

which reached Britain
during the reign of the British Empire

and became the magnificence
of the Queen's crown.

A lobby of Indian industrialists
and artists in London

are preparing to give legal challenge
to Queen Elizabeth

for Kohinoor's return to India.

Yes, some in India are demanding the
return of the fabled Kohinoor diamond,

which was removed from India,
and presented to Queen Victoria in 1850

before being embedded
in this elegant head sofa.

But the British government
is refusing to give that diamond up

for reasons that former Deputy Prime
Minister Nick Clegg explained.

There is no doubt in our mind that the
diamond was relocated to this country

under legal conditions
which are not in any doubt.

But, there is, I think,
clarity in the sincerity

with which the Queen holds
the crown jewels, all of them,

in trust,
on behalf of the nation,

has done for many generations, and
future monarchs will continue to do so.

Okay, okay,
that's an intricate legal argument,

so let me see if I can break it down
for you. What he's basically saying is,

"I understand that
you want the diamond,

"but the thing is we have
the diamond, you don't,

"and we're going to keep
having it forever.

"So, in summary, finders keepers,
go fuck yourself, cheerio."

And as for...

As for the current
Prime Minster, David Cameron,

when he was asked about returning
the diamond during a visit to India,

he simply stated,
"They're not having that back."

Which is so petulant
and childish a response

I'm surprised he didn't lick the
diamond to call official dibs on it.

In a way, you can understand why
Britain does not want to give it back.

All our greatest possessions
are stolen.

Tea, stolen.

The Elgin Marbles, let's say
permanently borrowed.

The entire British Museum is basically
an active crime scene.

And if we start giving back
everything we took from the empire,

that building will basically
be completely empty

except for one portrait
of Lord Alfred Tennyson,

and a pair of Gary Oldman's old
running shorts. And that can't happen.

And now, this.

And now... Another one of
John McCain's favorite jokes.

I landed at LaGuardia Airport today,
a guy ran up to me and said, "Hey."

He said, "Anybody ever tell you you
look a lot like Senator John McCain ?"

I said, "Yeah."
He said,

"Doesn't it sometimes
just make you mad as heck ?" So...

I landed at LaGuardia Airport today.

We were at Kennedy Airport
this morning.

Came through
Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport.

I was in the Atlanta Airport.

I was going through National Airport
just yesterday, I believe it was.

A guy ran up and said, "Hey."

"Did anybody ever tell you you look
a lot like Senator John McCain ?"

I said, "Yeah." He said, "Doesn't it
just make you mad as hell ?"

"Doesn't it just
make you mad as hell ?"

"...mad as hell ?"

"Doesn't it sometimes just
make you mad as hell ?"

Moving on. Our main story tonight
is about daily fantasy sports.

The most addictive thing you can do on
your phone other than perhaps cocaine.

If you own a television,
you cannot have missed their ads.

FanDuel packs the thrill of a whole
season into just one week.

With FanDuel, there's no
season-long commitment.

Are your dreams big enough
to cash a giant check ?

Play free with promo code "trot."

Enter promo code "YouTube60."

Use the promo code "Clean6."

Enter promo code "Bang9."

Yes, daily fantasy sports
combine everything dudes love:

sports, money,
and a lack of commitment.

And I will say... the promo code
really gives it an air of exclusivity.

It's like you've just joined an elite
supper club whose password is "Bang9."

It's been impossible
to avoid those ads.

A few months ago, the two main daily
fantasy sites, DraftKings and FanDuel,

were airing a national TV ad
every 90 seconds.

You only need to remind people
of something that often

if your target market
is sports-loving goldfish.

Now, for those who don't know, let me
explain to you what daily fantasy is.

Until fairly recently, fantasy sports
used to be a season-long game

where you and your co-workers
picked imaginary teams of players,

put $20 each in a pot, and eventually
lost to Janice in accounting,

which would have been extremely
upsetting. And I'll tell you why,

she don't give a fuck about sports.
She don't give a fuck.

But daily fantasy is very different.
With daily fantasy you can go online,

typically pay an entry fee of anything
from 25 cents to thousands of dollars,

pick a team for just a week or a day,
and compete against total strangers.

It's the same as season-long fantasy

the way a nice mug of tea
is the same as a nice baggie of heroin.

Both give you a lovely warm feeling,
one's a little more intense.

And many TV networks are not
just airing daily fantasy ads,

they're making deals
with these companies.

We should note NBC Sports Group
and NBC's parent company, Comcast,

are among the investors in FanDuel.

I should disclose that 21st Century Fox
owns a stake in DraftKings.

CNN's parent company, Time Warner,
has made an investment in FanDuel.

ESPN has an exclusive two-year
marketing agreement with DraftKings

worth reported $250 million.

At this point, there is almost no show
that is not financially compromised

by a relationship
with daily fantasy,

including "Yell at Your Daughter
'Till She Dances" on Lifetime.

In fact, just so you know,
HBO is a subsidiary of Time Warner,

which means this joke about being
compromised is, in a sense,

brought to you by FanDuel.

And I'll say...
Thanks, guys.

And it's not just TV networks.

Some of the sports leagues themselves
closely partnered with these sites.

The NBA has an equity stake in FanDuel,
MLB has one in DraftKings,

and many NFL teams have advertising
deals with the fantasy sites.

In fact, 28 of the NFL's 32 teams

have sponsorship deals
with either DraftKings of FanDuel,

and the Cowboys and the Patriots owners
are both investors in DraftKings.

And of course leagues and networks
like the idea of daily fantasy.

It's the only thing that's gonna make
people want to watch

the Bucs and the Jaguars face off
on a rainy Thursday night.

No one is just to witness the majesty
of Tampa Bay kicker Connor Barth

unless you are Connor's mom.
And even then, she might DVR it.

"I'm sorry, Connor, but it is Thursday.
It's 'Scandal' night.

"I've got ShondaLand right through.
Have a good kick.

"I hope you kick good."

It's a little weird to see professional
sports in cahoots with these sites

because most leagues have generally
been opposed to gambling,

unlicensed gambling
is illegal in most states,

and these sites do look
a lot like gambling.

Don't take that from me, take it from
Hall-of-Fame quarterback Joe Namath.

- Do you feel like it's gambling ?
- Do they have to pay to play ?

- I think you have to pay.
- And do they win something ?

- They do.
- It's gambling.

Okay. Okay. Okay.

So, Joe Namath,
a man so lacking in discernment

he wore this to the Super Bowl,

even he can see that this is gambling.
And he's not alone.

Just last month the Gaming Control
Board of Nevada ruled it was gambling.

Arguing, "If people will lose all their
money pressing buttons on a screen,

"that screen better have
'Sex and the City' characters on it."

And just this week
there was another development.

Big trouble for those daily fantasy
sports sites FanDuel and DraftKings.

New York's Attorney General
says they amount to illegal gambling.

Yes, the New York Attorney General is
attempting to shut down daily fantasy.

And if that happens, the best way to
gamble here will once again be

buying meat on a stick
from a guy with a cart.

Why does my chicken
have whiskers ?

Do you know what ?
I'm hungry, I'm rolling the dice.

But both major daily fantasy sites
insist that they've done nothing wrong.

In fact, DraftKings even claims
on its website that its 100% legal,

which is immediately suspicious.

If the guy at TCBY said,
"This frozen yogurt is 100% legal,"

you would know that somehow it was
a product of the illegal sex trade.

And both companies bristle
at the very word "gambling,"

insisting that they are
something far more benign.

You don't view what you do
here at FanDuel as gambling ?

That's a word that isn't used
very much around here, I take it ?

'Cause we are... Every time that
you talk to our users,

what comes through is the fact that
we're an entertainment product.

Okay. Okay, sure. But you know what
else is an entertainment product ?

Gambling is incredibly entertaining.

Until, of course, you're down 15 grand
to a Russian "entertainment" syndicate.

But when DraftKings, in particular,
claims that it's not gambling,

it's worth noting, not only have they
received a gambling license in the UK,

but according to
the Nevada Attorney General,

their website once had search engine
optimization phrases

with multiple instances
of the word "betting."

Sites usually use alt text like that to
tell search engines what they are.

It's why this show's
website is tagged with...

"british nerd", "brit dork",
"news goof", "birdy fact funny man".

So here's the question.

How can DraftKings say
they are not gambling and 100% legal ?

Well, daily fantasy sites often point
to one particular piece of legislation,

the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling
Enforcement Act, or UIGEA.

Right now, fantasy sports being a game
of skill, is carved out of UIGEA

and permissible in
most states in the U.S.

Under the current law it's very obvious
that this fits within skill gaming.

What he refers to in his charismatic,
monotone, sleep-inducing voice

is that in 2006 when Congress passed
a law to crack down on online gambling,

it exempted fantasy sports.
Which, remember, back then

were just those office things
that you lost to Janice in accounting.

It was meant to be a small exception,
but through that small carve out,

two multi-billion dollar
businesses have emerged.

It's like those lawmakers
built a doggy door for a beloved pooch,

and then daily fantasy came bursting
through like a pack of wolves, saying,

"We are dogs.
It's a doggy door, right ?

"That's for us, we're legally dogs.
Woof. "Right ? Tell 'em. Woof.


"Step aside. Woof."

But even the guy
who co-wrote that law

says it wasn't meant to apply to what
fantasy sports have now become.

The US Congressman who drafted
the 2006 legislation

used by DraftKings and FanDuel
as proof of their legitimacy is upset.

Former lawmaker Jim Leach
says, it is, quote,

"sheer 'shutzpah'" for
the daily fantasy sports sites

to pretend the law
makes them legal.

Okay, okay.
Okay, first of all,

"Chutzpah" is actually
pronounced "hootzpah"...

The idea that daily fantasy sites use
this law to claim they're not gambling

is not chutzpah,
it's horse shit.

That law, interestingly, that law never
said fantasy sports were legal,

it just said they weren't explicitly
illegal under that specific law,

but that each state's gambling laws
would continue to apply.

And, in general, most states determine
whether or not something is gambling

by asking whether it's more of a game
of chance, or more a game of skill.

If being a game of chance could make
you gambling, and therefore illegal,

it's no wonder that daily fantasy sites
like to describe themselves like this.

They are games of skill. And we can
prove that through data that we have.

If skill is a predominant factor
in the game, then it's a game of skill.

We can show our game, like traditional
fantasy sports, is skill-predominant.

It's legally critical to these
companies they be perceived as such.

That's why every time they talk
you hear the word "skills"

more often than during
an underground rap battle.

Just this Friday, daily fantasy
supporters held a protest rally

outside the New York Attorney General's
office with a familiar chant.

Game of skill ! Game of skill !
Game of skill !

Now, if you're thinking,

it's a bit odd that ordinary fans were
chanting something so legally specific,

there may actually
be a reason for that.

Behind me this morning,
there were about 250 people here.

They blocked the sidewalk.
A lot of police,

a lot of protesters
making a lot of noise.

But 100 of those 250 people were
employees of FanDuel themselves

because their offices are
right here in Union Square.

They used their own
employees as protesters.

If you are trying
to make the argument

that you are not a shady
gambling-related company,

maybe don't openly
stack the deck in your favor.

Which is not to say that
daily fantasy does not involve skill.

It might involve a lot more skill than
they would like you to be aware of.

Because this summer, a study revealed
some shocking numbers.

91% of the profits were won
by just the top 1.3% of players

during the first half
of the baseball season.

85% of players were losers.

85% of fantasy players were losers,
which is staggering.

In the general population
that number is 40% at best.

It essentially breaks down like this.
40% losers, 40% assholes,

14% weirdos,
5% decent human beings,

and then, of course, Beyoncé.

And if you are wondering

what it takes to be part of that big
winning one percent, let me show you.

Albertson made over $200,000
playing fantasy sports last year.

In drafting his fantasy teams,

Albertson spends hours each day
studying his own homemade algorithms

that track thousands
of up-to-the-minute statistics

and player projections.

Projections that even factor
in the hourly weather forecasts

and wind conditions
in each stadium.

This is every pitcher,
basically, in baseball.

We've got dozens
of rows of statistics.

Yes, fantasy sports are
effectively dominated

by numbers nerds
with sophisticated algorithms.

Great news for anyone who wished
"Moneyball" could be a bit more boring.

But it's not great news
for a casual player.

And it somewhat undercuts
the key selling point in their ads.

Anybody can win.
It's not just a game for professionals.

It's for everybody. FanDuel made it
where anybody can play and succeed.

Yeah, but "anybody can succeed"
is a bit of a stretch

when only one percent of the players
are winning most of the money.

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. It's a different
movie. It's a different movie.

Not better or worse,
just different.

So, these daily fantasy sites
may be in a bit of a quandary.

Under our hazy gambling laws,

the more they're a game of skill, the
stronger their legal case usually is,

but the less appealing they become
to the average player.

And there's a precedent for an online
amalgam of skill and chance.

Unfortunately for daily fantasy,
it's poker,

which most states
consider gambling.

And you would think
if these sites were smart

they would run away as fast as they
could from any comparison to poker.

So, if you go and play DraftKings,

it actually, in many ways,
has a similar feel to poker.

The games have payout
structures that are similar,

you can play head-to-head all the way
up to larger tournaments.

The way he's describing daily fantasy
and poker is so similar

most people
could not tell them apart.

They're like alligators and crocodiles,
or Amy Adams and Isla Fisher.

Are those two different people
or the same person twice ?

It's impossible to tell.
Nobody knows.

The similarities between online poker
and daily fantasy don't stop there.

Remember Cory Albertson ?
The guy with the homemade algorithm ?

Guess where he honed those skills ?

In a past life
he was a professional poker player.

He's all in and in trouble against Cory
Albertson, both with a pair of jacks.

But then he discovered
daily fantasy sports

and has been winning big against
his online opponents ever since.

Look, if it attracts the same people
and requires the same sorts of skills,

it's safe to say
it is somewhat similar.

It's like finding out an Olympic
gymnast has joined Cirque du Soleil.

Or an Olympic snowboarder has joined
a Colorado pot dispensary.

There's connective tissue
there. That's all I'm saying.

And in case its connection to the world
of poker was not clear enough,

guess who was a sponsor of the
World Series of Poker this year ?

The World Series of Poker main event
telecast, presented by DraftKings.

They're basically saying, "If you love
gambling, you'll love DraftKings...

"for completely
unrelated reasons."

Look, by any rational definition,
daily fantasy is gambling.

Which isn't necessarily
a bad thing. People clearly love it.

But if we're going to de facto legalize
sports gambling across the U.S.,

we should at least
do it on purpose

and not because two companies have
somehow weaseled out a way

to pretend that they are not something
that they clearly are.

Because gambling enterprises,
wherever they are legal,

are regulated to protect people, and
that's going to need to happen here.

And until such time, if they're going
to keep bombarding us with those ads,

they should at least make them
a little more honest.

Daily Fantasy is the hottest
new way to make real money.

As soon as I tried DraftKings,
I was hooked.

I've been using FanDuel since I saw all
those commercials on TV all the time.

I turned $35 into $2 million,

into $40, into $0 on FanDuel.

Daily fantasy is the best.
I get to play every day.

- You mean you get to gamble.
- It's not gambling.

Oh, it's definitely gambling.
You have a massive gambling problem.

It's actually a skills-based game
that is gonna make us rich one day.

- You're an idiot.
- I'm a winner.

With Daily Fantasy,
anyone can win.

I've won $784,000 on FanDuel.

See ? You can compete against millions
of regular sports fans just like you.

I have a master's degree in statistics
and I've designed an advanced algorithm

that incorporates real time
weather condition updates

and can calculate an earned run average
to the 20th decimal point.

Hey, jocks, how does it feel
to be a nerd's bitch ?

Daily Fantasy sports is the only
skills-based entertainment product

where you can win big money.

- You're a winner ?
- I'm a winner.

- How the fuck are you a winner ?
- How the fuck am I a winner ?

I'll tell you how the fuck
I'm a winner.

I won six dollars and 18 fucking cents
playing daily fantasy.

- That's how the fuck I'm a winner.
- You spent $1,200.

Well, that's what you gotta do,
you gotta spend money to make money.

To make $6.18
you spent $1,200 ?

- Yeah, that's how it works.
- I don't understand you.

- You don't understand sports.
- I understand math.

Don't listen to the critics,
Daily Fantasy is a legitimate business.

Daily Fantasy has the support
of the NFL.

When have they ever been associated
with anything shady ?

The best part about it
is that it's currently legal.

So, I'm excited about that.

- Look at the size of this check !
- Oh, here we go with the check.

- Look at this check !
- $1,200 and you won $6.18 !

You saying I'm not a big winner ?

You spent $18 printing out
this check at Kinko's.

Well, I was proud that I won.
And look who the check is made out to.

"Big Winner."
Your fucking husband.

Why don't you put it where
the TV used to go, asshole.

Daily Fantasy sports
is just pure fun. And it's so simple.

I just watch football
and win money.

I know that sounds
too good to be true, in fact,

even saying it out loud now, I'm
realizing that can't possibly be true.

Can you give me a minute ?

I hate you so much !

Daily Fantasy is not just fun.

It's who I am,
it's what the fuck I do.

- I'm gonna turn this into a career !
- I'm pregnant.

Fuck !

And if you're concerned that
Daily Fantasy sounds like gambling,

don't worry, it isn't.

It's not gambling. It's playing a game
where my cash winnings

depend on the performance
of professional athletes.

Wait, I described gambling
again, didn't I ? Fuck.

With Daily Fantasy,
all you need is a love of sports.

I think I just realized that at this
very moment I actually hate you.

Fantastic, I hate me too, so...

That's something we agree on
for the first time in a while.

Is there something stronger
than a divorce that we could get ?

Like, a super divorce ?

If there was, we probably
couldn't afford it.

Play Daily Fantasy now.
Just use promo code "Gambling."

Or promo code
"Obviously gambling."

sensedefinitionthis isgambling."

That's our show, thank you
so much for watching.

Have a great night,
good bye !

- We haven't been happy for years.
- No, we have not.

We thought this baby
would save our marriage.

- I knew it wouldn't.
- I knew it wouldn't either.

- I knew it wouldn't.
- I was hoping it'd make you happy.

- I knew it wouldn't.
- You think I want this baby ?

- You think I want this baby ?
- Well, I don't want it !

I don't want it either ! I cried.

- Fuck.
- Well, it's... It's over.

It's done.
I think it just died already.

I can feel it.
It's dead.

This talk just killed it.