Virginia, Other States Eye Finish Line For DFS Bills

Daily Fantasy Sports Weekly Wrap: All Eyes On Virginia, New York Rumblings

Virginia and DFS
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Here’s a quick look back at what happened in the daily fantasy sports industry this past week, and what to watch for this coming week:

What happened this week in DFS

A New York DFS state of mind: New York is the most important battleground — both legally and legislatively — in the country. Activity on the latter picked up this past week, as the chairman of the Senate gaming committee, John Bonacic, introduced a new DFS bill. Seeing as nothing has happened with legislation already in the pipleline, this seems to be the bill to watch.

Cuban, fantasy sports are BFFs: Mark Cuban, coming off an appearance at the Fantasy Sports Trade Association winter conference last month in Texas, was back in the spotlight for fantasy sports this past week. He penned an op-ed for USA Today, and it’s clear he will continue to champion the cause when it makes sense for him to do so.

Golf is back: Fantasy golf was a hot vertical for DraftKings last year. And with the first major of the year — The Masters — on tap, a $4 million guaranteed contest is on the schedule. It’s the biggest golf contest ever held in terms of prizes; it has an entry fee of $20 and tops out at about 230,000 entries. Given the momentum and excitement around DFS for golf last year, seeing it fill would seem to be a no-brainer.

No more paid-entry at ESPN: This isn’t really DFS news, as ESPN only offers seasonlong contests, and a deal with DraftKings was called off last month. But a report this week indicated that ESPN was ending its paid-entry contests, a development that seems to be linked to the uncertain legal environment. While it’s a move that makes little impact on ESPN’s bottom line, it is interesting, nonetheless.

What to watch for in DFS

All eyes on Virginia: Virginia could very well be the first state to enact a DFS regulatory law in the U.S. This week, a bill passed votes in the House and Senate, and it’s now headed to the governor’s desk. The only question appears to be whether Gov. Terry McAuliffe will just sign the bill or amend it and send it back to the General Assembly. (Some groups — such as the National Council on Problem Gambling — are pushing for changes.)

There are also questions about whether bills like Virginia provide effective oversight for the DFS industry. Regardless, it’s very possible that DFS sites will be registering to operate in Virginia in the very near future, though.

Other states and DFS bills: Keeping up with the progress of bills at the state level — some of which are moving with incredible speed — can be a difficult task. But Indiana appears to be the next most likely state to pass a bill. Beyond that, a variety of states have gotten legislation through at least one chamber. Who will join Virginia at nearly crossing the finish line, and could it happen this week?

More in NY case: There have been filings from both New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman (here and here) and DraftKings and FanDuel (here and here) in the past week in the ongoing court battle regarding the legality of DFS in NY. And we will see more this week and next:

We’re far from the end of the legal battle in New York, but it will be another step toward a determination of how the state’s judicial system will rule on DFS legality.

 

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.