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Snap Poll: Fantasy sports sites violate law, most say

Nearly two-thirds of respondents to this week’s RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll say daily fantasy sports sites such as DraftKings and FanDuel violate New York law on gambling. More than half also say the state law should not be changed to define daily fantasy sports as legal games of skill.

Slightly more than half say, however, that New York should legalize and regulate all wagering on professional sports.

Describing DraftKings and FanDuel as “leaders of a massive, multibillion-dollar scheme intended to evade the law and fleece sports fans across the country,” state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman two weeks ago sent cease-and-desist letters to the two companies ordering them to stop “illegally accepting wagers” in New York. Last week, he took an additional step, seeking an injunction to bar the websites from operating in the state. (A hearing was scheduled for Wednesday.)

Fantasy sports website operators argue their games are not gambling because winning requires more skill than luck. Schneiderman counters that daily fantasy sports more closely resemble online poker than they do traditional fantasy sports.

“These companies are based on business models that are identical to other forms of gambling,” he says.

Further, the attorney general maintains, “New York law prohibits sports wagering—betting money on a future event outside of the gambler’s control—regardless of the skill involved.”

Under New York law, gambling is defined as any contest or game played for money “in which the outcome depends in a material degree upon an element of chance,” even if the players’ skill also is a factor.

In response to Scheiderman’s action, state Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer, R-Amherst, introduced legislation “to clarify fantasy sports leagues, such as DraftKings and FanDuel, as games of skill rather than games of chance.” He said the bill “protects the rights of businesses and individuals who wish to engage in this type of commerce in the state of New York.”

Others, pointing to the spread of state-run lotteries and legal casinos, argue that New York should legalize and regulate all wagering on professional sports.

Nearly 385 readers participated in this week’s poll, conducted Nov. 23.

In your view, do daily fantasy sports sites violate New York law on gambling?
Yes: 63%
No: 37%

Should New York law be changed to clearly define daily fantasy sports as legal games of skill?
Yes: 48%
No: 52%

Should New York legalize and regulate all wagering on professional sports?
Yes: 52%
No: 48%

For information on how the Snap Polls are conducted, click here.

COMMENTS:

Just another way for the criminals/politicians to steal/tax more money from the people. Clearly only illegal because they haven’t found a way to tax it!
—Mike Masters

The daily fantasy sports clearly targets and is appealing to people who want to get rich quick, real quick. To say it requires skill is akin to claiming it takes skill and intellect to pick your numbers in the Lotto. In both cases, the players almost always lose and the enterprise gets rich.
—Dorver Kendig, Webster

It’s odd that New York views FanDuel as not being a game of skill but the state lottery apparently is one. Hypocrisy.
—Joanne Greene-Blose

Fantasy sports along with Facebook, Twitter and other social media are a huge distraction in the workplace that has a negative effect on productivity and customer service. Engaging employees in discussions regarding abuses and outliers is needed to begin to establish norms of acceptable work behavior.
—Jim Sorrentino

With all the problems we have in New York, why does the government have to meddle in this? It is nothing but a money grab by the state. They have probably promised the new casinos a monopoly on this activity.
—Jim Cronin

The state of New York considers these activities as illegal gambling because they are not getting their piece of the action. Schneiderman twisted the definition of the game to fit his narrative. The state of New York is one of the biggest sponsors of vice as long as they get a piece of the action (casino gambling, lottery, OTB and taxes on cigarettes and alcohol). They are OK with vice as long as they get a cut. State-sponsored vice is permissible!
—Dave Iadanza, Farmington

New York is already too heavily invested in supporting gambling. While the funds from lotteries and casinos may sometimes contribute to better schools and more jobs, gambling itself can be a destructive force for individuals and communities alike. The state should get out of the gaming business.
—Mike Bergin, Chariot Learning

I personally am not a fan of FanDuel or DraftKings, but if someone wants to play they should be able to. This type of gambling is different than playing slots, roulette and other games that are really based on luck. I am sure they are addictive and have their downsides, but people need the freedom to make decisions. Just ensure the site is legit and everyone has a fair chance to win. Please don’t take away my ability to play in the NCAA office pool or weekly football pool!
—Keith Newcomer

The only difference between fantasy leagues and horse racing is that the state doesn’t have their hand in the cookie jar. If this is a game of chance—instead of skill—what about lotteries? I think this is more about revenues for New York State than any moral or legal stand regarding gambling.
—Arnie Boldt, Arnold-Smith Associates

The state is being hypocritical. Lottery, horse racing (with racinos) and Oneida and Niagara casinos are OK, but sports betting (online or not) isn’t? Arbitrary at best—change the law. We all know why; they tax the others heavily. Disclosure, I don’t gamble or bet either. Plus, many bigger issues that are overlooked.
—D. Giambattista, Fairport

Personally, I could care less about this; however, if permissible, then the tax coffers should get their fair share!
—J.A. DePaolis, Penfield

11/27/15 (c) 2015 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.

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