NYGA Opposes DFS Legalization If Not Tied To Casinos

New York Casinos Emerge As Possible Stumbling Block For Daily Fantasy Sports Bill

New York daily fantasy sports bill amended
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The New York Gaming Association — representing the commercial casino industry in the state — has emerged as a possible foil to NY’s daily fantasy sports regulation effort.

The NYGA’s strong statements on DFS

The NYGA and the state’s casinos — both commercial and tribal — had largely been silent on the issue of DFS in New York. But that changed on Tuesday, at an event held by and reported on by Crain’s Business New York.

The NYGA is “unanimous in resistance to a bill… unless it is also tied to the brick-and-mortar facilities” president James Featherstonhaugh said, according to Crain’s.

The most recent bill introduced in the state does not run regulation through the state’s gaming commission, however. It creates a fantasy sports division of the state Financial Frauds And Consumer Protection Unit.

Also from Crain’s:

“We’re not against daily fantasy sports,” said Greg Carlin, CEO of Rush Street Gaming, which is developing a resort and casino in Schenectady. “What we’re against is a special bill that opens the Internet in New York to out-of-state companies that don’t invest in the state and that also gives them special licensing privileges … It’s really important that our industry has a high regulatory barrier.”

Similar casino opposition to DFS regulation has cropped up in Illinois.

The latest on the DFS bills

New York is the biggest legal battleground for the embattled DFS industry. DraftKings and FanDuel stopped operating in New York this spring as a part of a settlement with Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. That settlement was based on the idea that the legislature would attempt to formally legalize DFS.

New York State Sen. John Bonacic originally offered a bill back in February, but that bill had sat idle for months. It appeared as amended on Tuesday (tracking here), although no new language showed up in the bill.

Meanwhile, Rep. Gary Pretlow has continually said he was working on a new DFS bill.

There had been indications that the Pretlow bill would drop last week in communications to his constituents. That bill, however, still has not surfaced, although Pretlow has also said it will appear in time for a hearing in June.

The online poker connection?

The development of the NYGA’s public opposition is an interesting issue that has the possibility of complicating a bill reaching the finish line. However, it’s also almost certain the casinos made their concerns heard privately prior to this.

In the past, Pretlow has kowtowed to the casino industry on the issue of online gaming in the state. A bill that would legalize online poker has made little progress thus far.

Pretlow had this to say when speaking at iGNA North America in April:

“We just licensed four land-based casinos and none of them have opened yet. And when the online poker proposal came up, I had stated originally that I wouldn’t be really pushing to have this vote online until at least the land-based casinos got up and running — unless I had assurances from all four of the licensees that they would ether a. be a part of it or b. didn’t have any issues with it.

I have gotten an assurance from three and the fourth one right now is saying that they may not be interested in being involved with it.”

Will this dynamic manifest itself in the New York DFS legalization effort?

So far, there has been no evidence that Pretlow views DFS and online gambling as identical products that need the approval of the casino industry in the state.

A recent report from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board suggests handling DFS regulation in a way the NYGA would seem to support.

What’s next for DFS in New York?

The Bonacic bill is in the Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering. The companion Pretlow bill — which one would assume will be identical to the Bonacic bill — still needs to surface, before a clear path forward can be seen.

Pretlow and Bonacic chair the gaming committees in their respective chambers. Those two members will likely have support lined up before they offer their bills up for votes.

The statehouse is trying to get legislation to the governor’s desk before a June 16 adjournment date.

Dustin Gouker
- Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer -- including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner.