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The FSTA opened in Dallas against the backdrop of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issuing an opinion that DFS is gambling.
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 (@BFawkesESPN) January 20, 2016
It’s worth noting that most DFS sites already include a section that says their sites are already “100% legal.”
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.
Other things Charchian said in his opening remarks:
His full comments can be watched here.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is scheduled to give the conference’s keynote later this morning, as well.