LONE TREE, Colo. — You’ve likely heard the adage if you do what you love, the money will follow. A Lone Tree man took that saying to heart.
Peter Jennings loves sports and at 26 years old, he became a millionaire by playing fantasy baseball. But the game Jennings has made his career is in limbo as the legal challenges surrounding fantasy sports are piling up.
Jennings quit his job as a stockbroker when his fantasy football wins started to pile up. Just weeks later, he won $150,000 playing fantasy football, then $1 million at a fantasy baseball tournament in the Bahamas.
“That was crazy. It was just a huge party. It was a wild time and I just can’t believe that happened,” Jennings said.
Jennings said turning what happens on the field into fantasy cash on the computer screen isn’t as easy as you might think. He compares it to picking stocks.
“They’re very similar. I’m a risk reward guy and instead of investing in the stock market and certain companies, I’m investing in athletes,” he said.
Jennings sits behind a computer 10 to 15 hours a day during football season, tweaking formulas and analyzing statistics.
“I’m doing research all day. I have models and programs,” he said.
It’s a skill he said he has had to learn.
“If I were to play someone at random off the street in daily fantasy, I feel I would win 90 percent of the time, and that’s not just random chance,” he said.
However, others say that’s not true. Arvada lawyer Chuck Humphrey believes fantasy sports are a game of chance.
“I’ve been saying for six months, they’re gambling. There’s no question about it,” Humphrey said.
Humphrey is confident the days are numbered for sites like Draft Kings and Fan Duel.
“They’re illegal and they’re going to get closed down. It’s just a matter of time,” he said.
In 2006, Humphrey challenged the legality of seasonlong fantasy sites. He lost, but he said daily sites are a completely different beast where no skill is required.
It’s a sentiment shared by the casino industry, which wants the games to be regulated. Six states, including Nevada, have blocked the games, and last week, Colorado filed a lawsuit against several fantasy sites.
The state alleges some employees used insider information to gain an advantage over unsuspecting, paying customers.
Draft Kings and Fan Duel also sponsor some of their biggest winners, including Jennings. He said he has no access to insider information that would give him an advantage in the games.
There are also questions about the cozy relationships professional sports teams have with fantasy sites. Twenty-eight of the NFL’s 32 teams have investments or partnerships with Fan Duel or Draft Kings, including the Broncos.
Many players dislike the games. Broncos running back C.J. Anderson is one of many players who have been criticized online for coming up short on the “virtual” playing field.
“What’s real is what we do every day on the football field and I just try and go out there and help my team win. I’m not trying to help your team win,” Anderson said.
However, for players like Jennings, fantasy sports are very real. A few fantasy points can mean a huge difference when it comes to a paycheck.
“I had a touchdown overturned in Week 4,” Jennings said. “It ended up costing me $1.5 million. It’s pretty crazy. The smallest things.”