Daily fantasy sports (DFS) is the wild, wild west of the 2015 online gaming world, the market running rampant and unregulated while cultivating millions of dollars in entry fees.
New York Assemblyman Felix Ortiz (D-District 51) wants to change that environment, the assistant speaker introducing a new piece of legislation last week that seeks to classify DFS contests as gambling activities instead of their current definition of skill-based endeavors.
A08554 would amend the racing, pari-mutuel wagering and breeding law to “give the stating gaming commission jurisdiction over fantasy sports gaming.”
“The gaming commission has authority over any form of legal gaming in the state,” Ortiz writes in his bill. “Adding fantasy sports to that list is both reasonable and justified given existing authority over similar types of gambling and it would help prevent unfair practices in this booming multimillion dollar industry.”
Push to Outlaw DFS
Ortiz’s proposition wouldn’t necessarily criminalize daily fantasy sports but redefine the contests as gambling. Unfortunately for those in the Empire State that participate on platforms like DraftKings and FanDuel, the bill would presumably lead to the state prohibiting DFS.
Considering online gambling is illegal in New York, should daily fantasy games be classified as a gambling activity, theoretically that would place the industry in violation of current laws.
The driving force behind Ortiz’s legislation is the same as Nevada’s and other states presently deliberating the legality of DFS.
After a DraftKings employee pocketed $350,000 on FanDuel, arguments of insider data being used and corruption among the operators arose, albeit all unproven.
“This is an unregulated industry with a great deal of money in play,” Ortiz stated in a press release.
Please Government, Protect Us
An investigation into the operational procedures found no wrongdoings at DraftKings or FanDuel. Both platforms have since barred its employees from participating in daily fantasy contests, and the Fantasy Sports Trade Association has created a special independent Fantasy Sports Control Agency (FSCA).
“We are confident that an independent control agency can prevent any unethical, dishonest, or unfair behavior,” FSCA Chairman and former US Secretary of Labor Seth Harris said in late October. “In the process, we can save lawmakers and regulators the cost and effort of intervening so that they can expend their limited resources on bigger and more societally important challenges.”
It’s not enough for Ortiz who believes it’s his responsibility to protect his constituents.
“This lucrative and unregulated industry must be controlled before consumers are hurt,” Ortiz attests. “It is our responsibility to safeguard against compulsive and underage wagering, money laundering and identity fraud.”
There have been reports of DFS customers losing tens of thousands of dollars, but problem DFS gamblers represent only a miniscule percentage of the estimated 56 million Americans that have tried a contest at least once.
The debate boils down to whether self-reliance or government intrusion best serves the American people. It’s a debate that has endured for many years, and won’t end anytime soon.