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This was a busy week in the daily fantasy sports industry with significant movement in many states. Here’s a quick look back at what happened this past week, and what to watch for in the coming week:
Goodbye to New York … for now: The week began with a blockbuster. On Monday, the office of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced that it had reached a settlement with FanDuel and DraftKings. After months of legal wrangling, the two DFS giants both agreed (here and here) to cease operations in the Empire State. Later, Yahoo stopped its New York operations, too. But that does not end the battle in New York. The agreement’s shelf life is through September, when the primary appeal regarding the legality of DFS in New York is scheduled to be heard. Pending legislation could also supercede the agreement.
Massachusetts sets the standard: On Friday, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey filed her much-anticipated DFS regulations. The regulations include a minimum age of 21 to play and a ban of contests based on college sports. There was also a bevy of consumer protections, including the exclusion of DFS employees and “contractors” from playing DFS contests, “truth in advertising” standards, and data security protocols. The move was immediately supported in prepared statements by both FanDuel and DraftKings.
Sweet Home Indiana: Gov. Mike Pence signed legislation on Thursday that made Indiana the second state to regulate fantasy sports, joining Virginia. The law includes a $50,000 licensing fee, with a $5,000 renewal, and that fee could be raised to $75,000 in the future. The Indiana Gaming Commission will establish a “Paid Fantasy Sports Division” to handle oversight, and the bill designates fantasy sports as a game of skill. The bill includes some interesting restrictions, too, including banning contests involving college football and basketball. The law takes effect on July 1.
Yahoo gets more transparent: Yahoo Sports announced on Tuesday that it would be making changes in effort to “move the game much more toward one that’s about enjoyment, about sports.” Among the changes, Yahoo will limit entries to 10 per user per contest, and add a provision that a user cannot have more than 1 percent of total entries in a contest. In addition, “veteran” players will be identified with a badge, and Yahoo will eliminate and prohibit scripting tools to upload or edit entries.
Mississippi following Virginia, Indiana?: The Mississippi House is now considering a bill that would regulate daily fantasy sports, making it the state furthest along in legislation for DFS after Indiana and Virginia passed bills in recent weeks. The Mississippi bill passed the state’s Senate last week by a 48-3 vote. Mississippi is of particular concern because of a negative attorney general opinion, and the fact that sites have pulled out of the state. Of course, Mississippi is just one of many battleground states for the industry. One concern, though, is if the state regulations are supporting a duopoly in the industry.
Rock the vote in Maryland: It looks like voters could decide the fate of DFS in Maryland. A bill that would make DFS legal and allow for state regulation if voters approve the measure in November was one of two DFS-related bills that passed the Maryland Senate. If the bill passes though the House and is signed, it will make Maryland the first state to put DFS regulation on a ballot. That should certainly make for an interesting campaign for industry observers. However, the other bill Maryland lawmakers are considering would make DFS illegal.
MLB, golf fantasy seasons: Spring is here, which means the Masters in golf and Opening Day for baseball are just around the corner. As the potential for fantasy NBA and NHL winds down for the season, DraftKings, FanDuel and others will be depending on baseball, and sometimes golf, for the summer. FanDuel still only offers MLB contests throughout the summer, staying away from the golf vertical. After last year’s huge growth in the popularity of DFS for golf, it will be interesting to see if it can grow even more.