Only Three Days Left in the State Legislative Session – with No Action the Future of Fantasy Sports in New York will be in Jeopardy
State Senate and Assembly have Introduced Matching Bills to Protect Fanatsy Sports Players and a Growing Industry in New York
(Albany, NY) — Today, former Buffalo Bills Quarterback and NFL Hall of Famer Jim Kelly and former New York Jets Quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Vinny Testaverde joined New York State Senator John J. Bonacic and Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow to urge state lawmakers to pass fantasy sports legislation. There are only three days left in the legislative session and, without a new law, the future of fantasy sports – including the three million players and nearly 30 businesses in a rapidly growing piece of the tech sector – will be in jeopardy. The former quarterbacks and legislators urged the Senate and Assembly to pass a law to update the state’s outdated statutes to affirm the legality of fantasy sports contests and to install strong consumer protections, ensuring all games are fair and players in the state are protected. Six states – Colorado, Indiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee and Virginia – have already passed laws this year to protect fantasy sports players and the growing industry, and more than 20 additional states are advancing positive fantasy sports legislation.
New York State is central to the growing fantasy sports industry, which has exploded in recent years and now employs hundreds of New York residents. If the legislature fails to act, the state will forfeit this economic opportunity and disappoint millions of New York sports fans that regularly participate in fantasy contests. The press conference was convened by Fantasy Sports for All, an organization dedicated to promoting the right to play fantasy sports, and took place at the State Legislative Office Building in Albany.
“I have deep experience with the affinity New Yorkers have with professional sports. We have the greatest, most passionate and most committed fans in the country, and nothing could match the support I felt from fans here during my 11 years in the NFL,” said former Buffalo Bills Quarterback, Jim Kelly. “That same passion has directly translated into New Yorker’s love of fantasy sports, with three million players here. Fantasy sports have become embedded in the fabric of how New York fans enjoy sports, bond with friends, family and colleagues in competitions, and make watching live games more fun. Let’s not take that away from them.”
“New York is home to 11 pro sports teams, headquarters of every professional sports league and is the sports capital of the world,” said former New York Jets Quarterback, Vinny Testaverde. “New York should be the fantasy sports capital of the work – not only for fans, but for the industry as well. It’s no surprise that the industry has grown rapidly here with New York’s love of sports and strong tech sector – not only with fantasy sports game operators employing hundreds here, but a litany of small data, analytics and fantasy media companies sprouting up and growing here as well. Fantasy sports can be a true driver of economic growth in New York – if the state embraces it. Other states are racing to nurture the fantasy sports industry, if the legislature does act, the state is going to miss a major opportunity.”
Status of Fantasy Sports in New York
The two largest daily fantasy sports companies, DraftKings and FanDuel, reached an agreement in March with New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to suspend pending legal actions until September and the companies agreed to halt offering fantasy games in New York for the time being. This agreement created a window of opportunity for the legislature to act and clearly define fantasy sports as legal. But that window is rapidly closing, with only three days left in the legislative calendar. If the legislature does not act, the future of fantasy sports in New York will be in jeopardy.
Here is how and why the legislature should act:
Establish Legal Clarity:
It’s time for the state to update its laws with clear definitions that reflect the realities of technological evolutions and establish defined legal clarity for fantasy sports in New York.
New York’s laws are outdated, contain some ill-defined provisions and this issue could end up being litigated for years, leaving the state in a messy limbo where either: fantasy are played in New York with no regulations whatsoever or New Yorkers are deprived of playing fantasy sports.
The solution is for the legislature to act and establish legal clarity. It’s a relatively easy statutory fix, and six states have already passed laws this year accomplishing legal clarity.
New York needs strong regulations to protect consumers.
Fantasy sports have grown into a major industry, and like any major industry with broad consumer usage — from restaurants or bars to movie theaters or salons — there should be basic rules of the road that companies are obliged to follow.
Establishing clear, firm regulations all operators must abide by will protect players and help the industry as a whole.
Any legislation should achieve the following goals:
- Establish legal clarity by clearly defining fantasy sports as legal in New York State.
- Require all fantasy sports operators to:
- Ensure players are 18 and above;
- Keep player funds separate from operating funds, ensuring player money is accessible at all times:
- Ban employees and family members of fantasy sports companies from playing;
- Require “highly experienced players” to be clearly identified for all users to see;
- Restrict access to non-public information that could impact fantasy contests;
- Ban games based on college or high school athletics; and
- Require registration with the state and some form of audit that is submitted to the state each year.
New York Should be the Home of Fantasy Sports
New York State should be an incubator for this growing industry, and the home of fantasy sports.
The state is home to every major professional sports league and is a natural fit to be the leader of the exploding fantasy sports industry as a part of the state’s tech ecosystem.
It’s not only fantasy sports game operators that are growing, but the explosion in popularity of fantasy sports has given birth to a new breed of tech companies, focused on data, analytics and analysis related to fantasy sports.
New York State currently has nearly 30 fantasy-related companies (including 200 employees from the industry leaders, DraftKings and FanDuel), and that number of companies can and will grow if the legislature votes to update the laws surrounding fantasy sports. There is a real economic opportunity to be gained, but the state will miss the opportunity if legislation does not pass.
About Fantasy Sports for All
Fantasy Sports For All is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the right of all Americans to play in fantasy contests. FSFA works with grassroots leaders in the industry to advocate for regulation that affirms the legality of fantasy sports and sensible regulations that protect players and safeguard the integrity of the games that fans have grown to love. FSFA received its initial funding from DraftKings and FanDuel and is supported by individual players and fantasy sports operators across the country.