Daily Fantasy Sports Weekly Wrap: DraftKings, FanDuel Oppose NJ Bill; Federal Investigations

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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 in DFS

DFS giants oppose New Jersey bill: DraftKings and FanDuel opposed a bill in New Jersey that would regulate the industry. At issue? The measure does not explicitly say that DFS is a game of skill. Whether DFS is gambling or a game of skill continues to be a debate that will not go away. Despite the opposition, the bill passed through committee, 5-0.

NCAA Tournament tips off: The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament got underway this week, and DraftKings and FanDuel combined to offer more than $900,000 in tournament-related contests. But that did not come without controversy, as the NCAA reiterated to the Boston Globe that it is opposed to DFS games for “college, high school, and youth sports programs.”  

NBA commissioner calls for transparency: At Texas cultural festival South by Southwest (actually on Friday of the previous week), Adam Silver said “the more transparency, the better” for the future of daily fantasy sports. The NBA commissioner has been supportive of DFS and other forms of sports betting. He still remains bullish, though he admitted that the NBA mainly focused on DFS legality from a federal standpoint. The industry, of course, is a focus of regulators in more than two dozen states.

Investigations looming?: Boston-based attorney Paul Kelly said in a public forum last week that federal investigations are open in at least three jurisdictions. From a transcript of the discussion, Kelly said U.S. Attorney offices in the Southern District of New York, Boston, and Tampa, Fla. have all “launched grand jury investigations” into the activities of DraftKings and FanDuel. At issue, according to Kelly, is how DraftKings and FanDuel employees used company information. But he cautioned that the investigations are in their “earliest stages,” and that charges may never be brought. Kelly attempted to walk back some of his statements and both DraftKings and FanDuel refuted some of Kelly’s assertions. Still, it’s most definitely worth watching in the coming weeks, months and years.

What to watch for in DFS

Indiana still on the clock: Gov. Mike Pence received the bill that would regulate the DFS industry. If Pence signs the bill, Indiana will join Virginia as the only states that have successfully passed bills regulating DFS. Indiana is just the furthest along in a hotbed of activity among more than two dozen states.

New York sees movement: Not much has happened recently in the effort to legalize DFS in New York. But that changed last week as the state’s Senate is attempting to tie daily fantasy sports regulation to the state budget. No hearings have been scheduled yet, but this could be the first step in a legalization effort.