Cash Drops and Keystrokes: The New York Times investigates the legality of online sport games


This week, Walt Bogdanich, James Glanz, and Augustin Armendariz of the New York Times released a groundbreaking investigation into sports gambling in the United States. Entitled 'Cash Drops and Keystrokes: The Dark Reality of Sports Betting and Daily Fantasy Games', the piece revealed a pervasive undercurrent of illegal gambling that takes place through online fantasy sports competitions.

The piece incorporates long form journalism, the above video segment, and graphics that leveraged off both traditional investigative techniques and data driven work.

Since fantasy sports occur on the web, the New York Times' investigation began online by tracking data from two of the market's major players - BetCRIS.com and BetOnline.com - in order to pinpoint whether they were providing fantasy games from inside or outside the United States.

To start with, the team acquired BetCRIS.com and BetOnline.com's autonomous system number in order to identify which companies were hosting or routing their content.

"From there, The Times used a variety of techniques to find physical addresses. For example, reporters examined publicly available databases in which companies list the locations of their equipment in various data centers," explained the team behind the report.

"Reporters and their sources also used an Internet-based technique called 'tracerouting.' A traceroute, as the term implies, is sent out as a probe, say to a specific website associated with an A.S. Much like the sonar pings a bat sends out to navigate, traceroutes return with data on the spatial location of the site."

The data that they obtained from this process revealed that although the sites themselves are registered offshore, Americans access them through domestic data portals.

With this information in hand, the investigation went on to explore other sports sites and question the legality of fantasy sports tournaments.

Check out the full package here.