[toc]Fantasy Sports Trade Association president Paul Charchian spoke to open the FSTA Winter Conference on Wednesday, saying he believes the fantasy sports industry and daily fantasy sports will be on firm, legal footing in more than 40 states in a few years’ time.
The FSTA opened in Dallas against the backdrop of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issuing an opinion that DFS is gambling.
FSTA aims for legal clarity
Obviously, legal issues and regulatory efforts are by far the biggest issue on fantasy sports companies’ agendas, and Charchian acknowledged that in his comments in front of an audience of hundreds in Dallas.
“We need to formally legalize fantasy play in 50 states. It’s a big job,” Charchian said.
Charchian said the group is looking at a “two to three-year process” at the end of which which he believes the industry will have a “known, firm footing in all of the states.” He said he believes that laws friendly to the fantasy sports will be passed in 8 to 10 states within a year, with the end-game of a legal environment for fantasy in ’40-ish states’ by the end of the process.
Currently, there are bills addressing fantasy sports in more than a third of states.
“We are mostly winning, legislatively, by the way,” Charchian said.
Later, the idea of a federal approach was again downplayed by the FSTA’s chairman:
"Our expectation is that in the near future this [a DFS bill] isn't going to be addressed on the federal level." – Peter Schoenke
— Ben Fawkes (@BFawkes22) January 20, 2016
It’s worth noting that most DFS sites already include a section that says their sites are already “100% legal.”
No more Fantasy Sports Control Agency?
The Fantasy Sports Control Agency is apparently not going to be launched by the FSTA, per Charchian’s comments.
In October, in the wake of increased media and governmental scrutiny of the DFS industry, the FSTA announced the creation of the FSCA, headed up by Seth Harris, Former Acting U.S. Secretary of Labor. The organization was meant to be a self-regulatory body for the fantasy industry.
That initiative appears to have been scrapped as duplicative of regulatory efforts underway in many states.
“Over the course of spinning that up, and learning more, we really found out that this is a battle that’s going to be won in 50 states,” Charchian said. “It’s going to be 50 small battles, not one big battle. And so we decided to pivot. And instead of going that route, we decided to work with our lobbyists, FanDuel, DraftKings, 50 different states, 50 different ways. And we’re now taking a ’50-state initiative.’ ”
He noted that the fantasy industry already has lobbyists in about half the states.
Also of note at FSTA
Other things Charchian said in his opening remarks:
- On regulatory efforts: The industry is aiming for a “clear distinction, legislative distinctions, between fantasy sports and sports betting.”
- On changes in the DFS industry: “DFS needs to institute meaningful reform within their own companies. That’s in the process now.”
- On traditional fantasy sports: “Season-long contest operators are very nervous. They are in a gray area right now.”
- On payment processors: “Credit card processors are nervous about our industry.” He noted that they are generally already risk averse, in general.
- On the recent FantasyUp dissolution (a company that is not a part of the FSTA): “When you are spending your customers’ prize money, you are stealing. I earnestly hope no one in this room and no FSTA company will ever do that.”
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is scheduled to give the conference’s keynote later this morning, as well.