Following an announcement that the attorney general has stopped daily fantasy sports in New York, a lawmaker says it’s time for the Legislature to legalize the games to ensure proper oversight and protect jobs.
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Monday announced an agreement between his office and daily fantasy sports corporations FanDuel, Inc and DraftKings to suspend the games in New York. Under the agreement, FanDuel and DraftKings will stop taking bets from New Yorkers, and in return Schneiderman’s office will drop its lawsuit against the two companies in lieu of a court decision or a change in state law.
In light of the announcement, Assemblyman Dean Murray, said the Legislature needs to legalize daily sports fantasy games to ensure proper oversight and regulation and to protect jobs in New York.
“While I am disappointed that paid contests will be suspended, this simply confirms what I’ve been saying all along: this is not a court matter,” said Murray, R-East Patchogue. “The Legislature needs to act quickly to ensure that these games are fairly legalized, with proper oversight and regulation.
FanDuel and DraftKings are two of the best known daily fantasy sports sites where players pay an entry fee and join new fantasy “leagues” for a week or even a day and compete against other players on most major league sports. Depending on their overall performance relative to others in their league, players receive prize money from a pre-determined pot.
Opponents of the games, such as Schneiderman, call them games of chance, similar to slot machines or casino gambling, and therefore in violation of state gambling laws. However, FanDuel, DraftKings, their supporters and millions of players say daily fantasy sports is a game of skill, and therefore in compliance with state and federal gambling laws.
Murray has been following the legal battle between Schneiderman’s Office and the fantasy sports sites which began last football season. He sponsors a bill (A.8588) that would amend the penal law to classify daily fantasy sports games as games of skill, rather than games of
chance, thus creating an exemption from state gambling laws. Games of chance are currently only allowed inside a casino.
The bill points out that facilitators of daily fantasy sports, such as DraftKings and FanDuel, do not compete for prizes and are indifferent to who wins, unlike the house advantage in casinos.
“We have the opportunity to rectify this in the budget or move quickly toward a legislative solution,” Murray said. “My bill would ensure that these are games of skill, not chance, and immediately resolve any legal discrepancy for them to operate under New York law.
Murray notes that FanDuel is based in New York and jobs are in jeopardy. It is estimated that New York state residents paid more than $260 million in entry fees to fantasy sports sites in 2015.
“It is imperative that the Legislature comes to a decision quickly to ensure that jobs are not lost and players can continue to enjoy the games they love,” Murray said said.
FanDuel responded to Monday’s agreement and even created a web page to make it easier for its users and supporters to contact their lawmakers to show support for legislation that would legalize the games in New York.
“New York is a critical state for FanDuel,” reads the statement on the FanDuel website. “FanDuel is headquartered in Manhattan, where we employ more than 170 young, smart, passionate fans who are committed to innovating and providing the best fantasy experience possible. We are proud to be one of New York’s largest startup companies, and while it is disheartening for us to restrict access to paid contests in our home state, we believe this is in the best interest of our company, the fantasy industry and our players while we continue to pursue legal clarity in New York.”
FanDuel notes that users can withdraw their funds at any time, and all contests that are already live and active will continue as planned.
ESPN.com reports that more than 30 states are considering legislation to regulate daily fantasy sports games.
A court hearing scheduled for September could settle the legality of daily fantasy sports gaming in New York, but fans say they are seeking a permanent statute to regulate the activity.