Daily Fantasy Sports Moves in Many Directions While Online Poker Goes Nowhere

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New York Assemblyman Gary Pretlow talks DFS
New York Assemblyman Gary Pretlow who gives the state’s chance of DFS regulation as “better than evens” this year. (Image: nydailynews.com)

The daily fantasy sports landscape in the US is becoming an increasingly jumbled legal patchwork, as states opt to embrace or reject the industry. Several states have moved to define the legality in the last few days, albeit in different directions.

Alabama AG Luther Strange joined his colleague from Tennessee in declaring the contests to be illegal gambling last week. Strange said he had given DFS sites DraftKings and FanDuel until May 1 to cease offering games to residents of the state.

Earlier last week, Tennessee AG had stated that not only is DFS is illegal in the state but all forms of fantasy sports. But Tennessee does have a bill in the pipeline that would create a licensing framework for some types of DFS; the legislation was recently passed in the state Senate but was stalled by a House committee.

Fury in Missouri

Meanwhile, the Missouri House has passed a bill that would regulate but not tax DFS, exempting the contests from state gambling laws as games of skill. It would, however, require operators pay an annual fee of $5,000 and establish a set of consumer protections.

It was not without opposition in the House. “I am not in favor of calling fantasy sports anything other than sports betting,” complained Representative Rory Rowland (D-Independence). “It is being intellectually dishonest to call it anything other than that.” 

Meanwhile, New York Assemblyman Gary Pretlow (D-89) was at the iGaming North America conference last week to talk DFS regulation in the US. Pretlow is the Chairman of the New York Assembly Committee on Racing and Wagering, and a co-sponsor, with State Senator John Bonacic (R-42), of the state’s DFS and online poker bills. The chances of DFS regulation this year is high, said Pretlow, although poker less so.

No Online Poker for New York

“With regards to daily fantasy sports, the passage of the legislation that I am going to propose, if I was going to handicap it, it would be like betting on Secretariat in the Belmont Stakes; it’s better than even money,” he said, adding that he would “probably have a bill by the end of April”

This is will be music to the ears of DraftKings and FanDuel, who have agreed to shut down their operations in New York, their second biggest market in California, pending the resolution of their messy legal squabble with New York AG Eric Schneiderman.

The poker bill, meanwhile, was not the final product, said Pretlow, adding that there were still some “constitutional issues” which he believes can be ironed out.

“With online poker, there are some issues there and we’re not really prepared to introduce legislation that’s going to go to the floor for a vote, so you’re looking at a … a 1,000-1 shot to hit the floor,” he said.

There had been a glimmer for online poker when it was included in an early draft of New York’s budget plan, but it has since been crossed off the list.

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