FanDuel, DraftKings CEOs To Speak At Nevada Committee Meeting On Fantasy Sports

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Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval

FanDuel CEO Nigel Eccles and DraftKings CEO Jason Robins will be among those attending a meeting of the Nevada Gaming Policy Committee next week to consider the topic of daily fantasy sports in the state.

The notice of and agenda for the meeting, scheduled for Monday, March 7, can be seen here.

Nevada and DFS, together again?

In October, the Nevada Gaming Control Board and the state attorney general’s office offered their take that DFS constitutes gambling in the state, and operators who wanted to accept customers in the state would need to apply for a gaming license.

In the wake of a notice put out by the NGCB, all daily fantasy sports operators exited the state.

But rumblings that the state might take a second look at DFS started coming last month, when Gov. Brian Sandoval announced his intention to have the gaming policy committee examine the issue. From the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

In an order filed with the Secretary of State’s office Friday, Sandoval reconvened the 12-member committee and asked the group to come up with a policy for daily fantasy sports, the legality of which has become the topic of debate in several states.

“There is no better place in the world to host this important conversation than Nevada, and I look forward to working with this committee and its stakeholders to continue to set the pace and standards for global gaming industry,” Sandoval said in a statement.

What does the policy committee do, and how might that affect DFS?

The committee, by itself, does not hold any actual power to create laws or regulate gaming in Nevada. But it is made up of highly influential people in Nevada’s government and the gaming industry, including Sandoval.

More on the committee here:

It is a twelve-member committee which meets at the call of the Governor to discuss matters of gaming policy. The committee is advisory in nature–its recommendations are not binding on the Nevada Gaming Commission or the State Gaming Control Board.

The policy committee had been mothballed for decades until Sandoval reconvened it in 2012. It’s a fair guess that any recommendations regarding DFS that the committee eventually makes will be advanced in some fashion in Nevada’s government.

A pair of gaming industry executives — MGM CEO Jim Murren and Boyd Gaming President Keith Smith — are on the committee. Both have indicated that they believe DFS is gambling and should be regulated. (Read their past comments here and here.)

What will happen on Monday

The meeting appears largely to be an educational session for the members of the committee, so they can start to formulate a plan for DFS.

The main event: DFS CEOs

The most interesting of the many panels scheduled for the day is one titled “Current and Future Options For Daily Fantasy Sports in Nevada.” That’s the one that includes Eccles and Robins, as well as William Hill US CEO Joe Asher, another gaming industry executive that has been outspoken about the legality of DFS.

It will be interesting to see what tack Eccles and Robins take, and what kind of position the committee might put forth. Both FanDuel and DraftKings have made it clear they are in favor of so-called “common-sense” regulation of the DFS industry. But are they willing to put themselves through the type of rigorous licensing and oversight that Nevada may want to implement?

And will a “gaming license” be something that DFS companies are comfortable with obtaining in a U.S. jurisdiction? Or will the policy committee seek a way to avoid that designation?

The two DFS operators have already either gotten a gaming license in the UK (in the case of DraftKings) or applied for one (in the case of FanDuel).

While the two companies have been able to explain that as a difference in gaming law in the UK vs. the U.S., could applying for a gaming license in Nevada be seen as a non-starter?

It might not be, as Nevada regulates just about everything when it comes to gaming. Of course, being linked to gaming in Nevada could have a negative impact on how state lawmakers and government officials in other jurisdictions view DFS, which is being pushed as a game of skill in a variety of state capitols.

Other panels and witnesses

Other discussions on Monday include:

Near the end of the meeting, it appears possible that the committee will offer potential actions to take next.

Nevada, late to the party on DFS?

The policy committee’s move to examine fantasy sports puts Nevada at a bit of a deficit vis a vis other states considering regulation of the industry.

About two dozen states are actively considering legislation that would deal with the DFS industry, with very little of it treating DFS like a part of the gaming industry. Some of that legislation has already advanced quickly in a number of legislatures — that includes Virginia, where a bill sits on Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s desk.

Nevada would clearly like to take the lead on fantasy sports regulation nationwide, but whether it can exert that kind of control over the discussion, given the momentum elsewhere, remains to be seen.