New York could soon legalize DraftKings, FanDuel

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Photo via Ian Kennedy/Flickr (CC-BY-SA)

All this bill needs is the approval of the governor.

For the first time in many months, daily fantasy sports players might soon receive some good news. Three months after DraftKings and FanDuel had to stop offering paid games in the state of New York, the state legislature has agreed on a bill that would legalize the industry.

As reported by the Buffalo News, the two houses of the legislature—the assembly and the senate—came to an agreement on a deal that would make daily fantasy sports (DFS) a game of skill instead of a game of chance, meaning the games offered by DraftKings and FanDuel would be legal.

“I think that this was a breakthrough,” Republican Sen. John Bonacic told the newspaper.

Before the bill becomes a reality and allows New York to join Virginia as a state that legalizes DFS, Bonacic said Gov. Andrew Cuomo might make some "technical amendments" to the bill before giving it his approval. Bonacic told the newspaper that the two companies would probably have to pay a $150,000 registration fee to obtain a three-year license to operate in the state.

The bill certainly would be a win for the industry, which has recently suffered defeats in Texas, Alabama, and Tennessee. About a dozen states in total have declared DFS illegal.

Previously, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sent cease-and-desist letters to FanDuel and DraftKings, saying, "Daily fantasy sports is neither victimless nor harmless, and it is clear that DraftKings and FanDuel are the leaders of a massive, multibillion-dollar scheme intended to evade the law and fleece sports fans across the country."

Not surprisingly, FanDuel is in favor of the bill's passage. FanDuel CEO Nigel Eccles wrote in a statement: 

"If passed, this measure would provide for sensible regulations like requiring DFS companies to register with the state, pay our fair share in taxes, and verify that our users are over the age of 18. We believe passing this law is the right thing for our community, our company, and most importantly, the people of New York state. An overwhelming number of New Yorkers agree with this position—70 percent, in fact, according to a recent survey said they favor sensible regulation of our industry."

Eccles also wrote that "a number of big casinos have banded together" to try to stop the legislation. Gary Pretlow, the assembly's racing and wagering committee chairman, however, told the New York Daily News, "I am 100 percent confident this [bill] is going to happen."

Update 8:40pm CT, Aug. 3: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the bill Wednesday that officially made DFS legal in the state, and his office said in a statement that once the bill is implemented fully, it will give $4 million of extra revenue to fund state education. 

"Daily fantasy sports have proven to be popular in New York, but until now have operated with no supervision and no protections for players," Cuomo said in the statement. "This legislation strikes the right balance that allows this activity to continue with oversight from state regulators, new consumer protections, and more funding for education.”  

The Fantasy Sports Trade Association was pleased with the result, saying in a statement that the law "ensures a strong future for the fantasy sports industry in New York and serves as a beacon to the rest of the nation. It clarifies fantasy sports are legal games of skill, thus ensuring millions of New Yorkers can continue to play the games they love ...  New York passed a law with important consumer protections and took into consideration the needs of many different types of businesses in our industry."

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