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Screenshot of FanDuel Insider. © FanDuel

FanDuel, DraftKings and Yahoo dominate the daily fantasy sports industry nationwide and the state of New York is no exception. It is easy to assume the disappointment and frustration resulting from these major three operators shutting down their operations. Until the issues brought up by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman are resolved, the fans have no choice but to take a lengthy break or go to neighboring states to play.

The industry is generating a lot of money for FanDuel, DraftKings as well as other daily fantasy sports websites. Both they and the players are urging legislators to pass a bill that would restore the legality of the games and the latter are now paying attention. An important step was made by crafting legislation in the Assembly and state Senate, with vocal and influential supporters behind this bill.

Bipartisan support for daily fantasy sports

The daily fantasy sports market is significant and constantly expanding, but not well regulated. The oversight of the state gaming commission should address the issue and that’s exactly what John Bonacic is counting on. He is the chairman of the Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee and the one who introduced the bill, one that he hopes will pass before June 16. This is a very important deadline and if it is missed, they will have to wait for a new Legislature to start later this year.

Assembly Racing and Wagering Committee Chairman Gary Pretlow has also expressed his support for legalizing daily fantasy sports. The Democrat from Westchester crafted his own bill, which bears many similarities to the one produced by his Republican colleague. The proposed legislation differs only slightly and in both cases, daily fantasy sports operators would have to pay a licensing fee.

The websites are not thrilled with the prospect of paying 15% of their gross revenue every year, but they were probably expecting this outcome. The daily fantasy sports market grew so much, that it was only a matter of time until officials on a state and federal level realized the financial potential of the industry. Another thing that the websites are not happy with in addition to the licensing fees is the fact that both high school and college games as well as horse racing would be off-limits.

Daily fantasy sports players rally in support

Since both bills expect daily fantasy sports websites to pay an annual tax, it is only fair to assume that the industry will have to comply with this condition. The numbers are not written in stone, so they can move in any direction and 15% is only informative value. The operators were not too vocal in criticizing the proposed tax, but instead urged legislators to speed up the process and pass the bill faster.

With Gov. Cuomo expected to take a position soon, this can be the signal that New York lawmakers are waiting for. The very purpose of the agreement between the Atty. Gen. and the daily fantasy sports websites was to give the Legislature enough time to debate this topic. With six other states already passing positive legislation, there is a certain degree of optimism that New York will join the pack. The recent rally at the City Hall held by daily fantasy sports supporters is expected to sway the lawmakers.

Screenshot of FanDuel daily fantasy sports restricted. © Fanduel
Screenshot of FanDuel daily fantasy sports restricted. © Fanduel

Daily Fantasy Sports Pros circumvent existing bans

With millions of people playing daily fantasy sports, it comes as no surprise that their reactions in the wake of the suspension of the games are so different. The silent majority represents the biggest part of the community, but the most visible ones are the players who petition the government and state officials. They take the game seriously and many regard them as more than a weekend pastime, so they don’t want to wait for too long for a favorable bill to pass.

After FanDuel and DraftKings voluntarily stopped their operations in New York, the most dedicated players were left with virtually no alternative. Tech savvy ones used proxies to play, but they represent only a fraction of the community and their actions carry a certain degree of risk. Others went a step further and chose to relocate, alone or with their entire family outside state borders.

This is a radical decision that changes the lifestyle of individuals and their families, while highlighting the enthusiasm generated by the games. The luckiest players are those who reside close to the border, because they can rent a place in the neighboring state and play legally. There are obvious expenses associated to such a decision, but at least they don’t have to drive many hours and can be back to their families.

A blow for casual players

Casual players and even those who made a little money and won branded merchandise from their daily fantasy sports activities, are more likely to accept the temporary ban. Meanwhile, those who are semi professional daily fantasy sports players and make much of their income from their winnings had a difficult decision to make. In this category, there are professional tipsters, who recommend picks to their followers in exchange of a monthly subscription.

At least in theory, it is possible to make recommendations on the games without actually playing them, but this would cast serious doubt over their operation. Daily fantasy sports also require players to use advanced algorithms and interpret an almost overwhelming number of statistics. Some people who used to work as analysts for other companies chose to put their skills and knowledge to good use in daily fantasy sports. Being good with numbers helps a lot, as those who rely on facts rather than instinct are more likely to emerge victorious at the end of the season, as well as on a daily basis.

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