Fantasy wagering debate continues

Nov 13, 2015 9:29 AM

The search for common ground and clarity has guaranteed fantasy sports wagering a center stage position as the stack of conflicting opinions about what is or isn’t legal grows in states across the country.

Lawmakers and regulators in a number of states from coast to coast have turned attention to the issue. Action in New York got much of the attention this week.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey has expressed confidence that rules can be put in place to allow DraftKings and FanDuel to continue doing business in her state.

She said her review of daily fantasy sports betting as it is conducted by the industry’s two giants will not be influenced by the action this week of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman who said the two companies must stop doing business in New York because what they call “games of skill” are actually illegal gambling under New York law.

Healey said she will have an answer by year’s end and in the meantime is not inclined to be drawn into a debate over Schneiderman’s efforts to halt business by the companies which have been bankrolled by an assortment of hedge funds and investors. A number of major league sports teams, which have opposed sports betting have sponsorship deals with DraftKings and FanDuel.

DraftKings is based in Boston and FanDuel is based in New York.

“I think anyone looking at this acknowledges that it is a form of gambling,” Healey told the Associated Press. “But just because it is gambling does not make it illegal. We play the stock market. There are all kinds of ways in which gambling can happen.”

Influential forces are continuing to line up on both sides of the issue. Nevada’s Gaming Control Board has not said that daily fantasy wagering is illegal, but it did declare that companies offering it in Nevada must acquire sports book licenses.

On the other hand, Pennsylvania State Rep. George Dunbar said a bill confining fantasy wagering to the state’s 12 licensed casinos could gain favor as a result of the action in New York.

“My plan, since Pennsylvania is a gaming state,” he said, “is to ensure consumer protection while allowing the industry to continue to operate. We will have to wait and see how this plays out.”

Dunbar’s bill is pending with the House Gaming Oversight Committee.

Phil Hevener has been writing about the Nevada gaming business for more than 30 years. Email: [email protected].