Ruling Declares Daily Fantasy Sports a Game of Skill in New York

Ruling Declares Daily Fantasy Sports a Game of Skill in New York
By Lou Monaco
Fact Checked by Pat McLoone

In the world of New York sports, daily fantasy players can exhale: You can continue to pick your players and manage your teams as you see fit.

In a 58-page decision delivered Tuesday morning by the New York Court of Appeals, daily fantasy sports (DFS) is safe and sound in the state, as it has been declared constitutional by a vote of 4-3.

The ruling, in essence, says that fantasy sports is not considered gambling by the Constitution of the state of New York. Daily fantasy is to be considered as a game of skill, rather than a game of chance.

Tuesday’s vote was approved by Chief Judge Janet DiFiore, along with judges Anthony Cannataro, Madeline Singas and Hector D. LaSalle. Judges Rowan D. Wilson, Jenny Rivera and Shirley Troutman each voted that DFS in the state was unconstitutional.

After the decision, the Fantasy Sports & Gaming Association (FSGA) released a statement that read, in part:

“We welcome today’s ruling in the New York State Court of Appeals that fantasy sports can be regulated as games of skill and need not be treated as gambling under the New York Constitution.

“... The highest court in New York affirmed that the state legislature had the authority to regulate fantasy sports contests as games of skill. ... With this decision, the over 3.5 million fantasy sports enthusiasts in New York will continue to be able to play all the games they love.”

Ruling Good News for DraftKings, FanDuel

DraftKings and FanDuel have been the two main DFS operators in the state.

“New York state is FanDuel’s home and our New York customers have enjoyed playing daily fantasy for years,” FanDuel spokesperson Kevin Hennessy said in an official statement after the decision. “We are pleased that New Yorkers will continue to have access to fantasy sports contests.”

DraftKings also was grateful for the ruling.

“We are pleased with the Court’s decision, which ensures New Yorkers can continue to enjoy DraftKings’ industry-leading fantasy sports product.”

How We Got Here

Tuesday’s decision reverses a previous court decision last year that found daily fantasy sports violated the state constitution’s ban on gambling. The games allow players to assemble a roster of athletes in a sport, using the performance statistics of the players, to determine the winner.

The lawsuit, which was brought about several years ago, did not target mobile sports betting, which began in New York on Jan. 8 with four mobile operators (Caesars Sportsbook New York, FanDuel New York, DraftKings New York and BetRivers New York).

It now has expanded to eight (BetMGM New York, PointsBet New York, WynnBET New York and Resorts World New York) with one still to launch: Bally Bet.

DFS has been legal in the Empire State since Aug. 3, 2016, when then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill into law allowing daily sports fantasy platforms to legally operate within the state. Under that law, it was declared that daily fantasy sports was a game of skill.

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Contributors

Lou Monaco had been East Coast Scene columnist for Gaming Today in Las Vegas since June 2019, covering the East Coast sportsbook scene with emphasis on NJ and PA. He also currently is a part-time writer for the high school sports department for NJ Advanced Media (NJ.com) in Iselin, NJ. Lou has over 30 years sports experience with previous stints at ESPN SportsTicker, Daily Racing Form and Oddschecker.

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