Fans of fantasy football competitions in New York have suffered a blow after a ruling by an appellate court on Thursday.
The ruling held that fantasy football contests cannot be regarded as games of skill and so are classed as illegal gambling by New York state law.
The court was upholding a ruling from a lower court that lawmakers in New York State has unlawfully authorized fantasy football games when they classified them as games of skill. The state constitution includes a ban on most types of gambling. But back in 2016, the state Governor Andrew Cuomo put his name to a bill that effectively shielded fantasy sports firms from the gambling ban.
According to a report that year from the New York Time, in return for being protected from the gambling ban, daily fantasy sports firms would pay the state around 15.5% of revenue, which was said to be worth around $6 million annually, with the funds used to support an education funding programme overseen by the New York state lottery. That legislation gave the state’s gaming commission the authority to regulate fantasy sports betting.
The court decision echoes developments in the biggest gambling market in the US, Nevada, where daily fantasy contests have been classed as games of chance and are only permitted if operators are prepared to register with the gaming commission. Previously, fantasy sports companies have declined to register with gaming commissions as it contradicted the claim that these were games of skill.
In response to the court ruling, leading fantasy sports operators DraftKings and FanDuel released statements, confirming that they would be appealing:
“We expect that there will be an appeal and we’ll be able to continue to offer contests while that appeal is decided. The legislative action authorizing fantasy sports in New York was constitutional and in the best interests of taxpayers and fantasy sports fans.”