Operator Talk: Will New York AG take up $100k fantasy offer?

Operator Talk: Will New York AG take up $100k fantasy offer?

Friday, November 13, 2015 Totally Gaming
James Davis' DSFR has made the offer to Eric Schneiderman

A quick click through the pages of DraftKings’ website takes us back to what already seems like a different time.

Phrases such as ‘100% legal’ and ‘daily fantasy sports is a skill game and is not considered gambling’ looked fair comment just a few weeks ago. The logos of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal on the homescreen suggest that DraftKings and daily fantasy sports (DFS) are part of the establishment. It’s all about fun - play this game, take part in that game for free, make sure you pick your team before this weekend.

Then a ping on TotallyGaming’s computer as yet another email arrives from DraftKings’ public relations people. The company “has added David Boies and Jonathan Schiller to its legal team”. Messrs Boies and Schiller will be joining “international law firm” Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP in helping DraftKings overturn a cease and desist order from New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, a move that could cost the operator 10 per cent of its revenue – possibly $100m (€93.1m) per year. Not so much fun anymore.

Schneiderman doesn’t think DraftKings or rival FanDuel have ever been about fun. He described the pair as a “multi-billion-dollar scheme intended to evade the law and fleece sports fans” in the kind of letter that one would rather not see land on the doormat.

Further, he said DFS is “neither harmless nor victimless... [it is] creating the same public health and economic concerns as other forms of gambling, including addiction”.

So what of these victims?

James Davis is chief executive of Daily Fantasy Sports Rankings (DFSR), one of the major insight portals for the DFS community. With thousands of active members, DFSR can offer a good barometer of players’ feelings about the decision, and Davis told TotallyGaming.com that many feel their freedoms are being curtailed by the Attorney General.

“We and our members are discouraged by the news,” said Davis. “The folks here at DFSR believe that adults should be able to spend their money however they wish. Yes, people can lose money playing DFS, but they can also lose money by playing golf or engaging in any number of hobbies.The difference in DFS is that they can win money, too.”
 
Davis does not agree that DFS comes under the US legal definition of ‘gambling’ because he believes that players can only win by using skill and knowledge. To prove the point, DFSR has offered Schneiderman the chance of winning $100,000 for New York City public schools should he beat the site’s experts more than 50 times over the course of 100 DFS contests.

Schneiderman has not taken up the offer yet, and if Davis - a former professional online poker player – were a gambling man, he would be reluctant to put all his chips on a positive future for DFS.

“We are fairly concerned about the future of DFS in the US,” he said. “I was a professional online poker player for six years before the government intervened in that case, and I'm not excited about the idea of having yet another industry that supports my family be destroyed by government intervention.

“I have faith that the public understands that DFS should be an option for the public to enjoy, and only hope they can persuade politicians to feel the same way.”
 

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