The New York Court of Appeals is set to determine whether daily fantasy sports is a game of skill or chance.
Spectrum News 1 reports that the state’s highest court began hearing arguments in Albany on Tuesday. Ultimately the court will decide once and for all whether the New York State Legislature overstepped its remit when it legalized the contests in 2016.
The 2016 law offered DFS companies a carve-out from state gambling laws under the premise that they were games of skill. But anti-gambling groups sued, arguing the law was unconstitutional.
Curtains for New York DFS?
The state’s constitution bans gambling unless an exception can be made via a constitutional amendment which must be agreed by public referendum.
New York residents voted to legalize sports betting in 2013, for example, at the same time they approved casino gaming. But it was only after the US Supreme Court tossed the federal ban on sports betting that the state’s casinos were permitted to offer these kinds of wagers.
So far, the trial court has ruled that the 2016 law violates the state’s ban on gambling but held that the legislature was in its power to decriminalize the contests.
That’s why sites have been able to continue offering DFS in New York pending the resolution of litigation, albeit without oversight from the state. But should the Court of Appeals rule against the state, it would be curtains for the contests in DraftKings’ and FanDuel’s second biggest DFS market.
Betting on the Bills
On Tuesday, New York Assistant Solicitor General Victor Paladino argued that DFS contains elements of chance but that skilled players with more knowledge come out on top.
“The contestants have available to them a wealth of information, much like the analytics available to the general managers of the world,” Paladino said during oral arguments, as reported by Spectrum News 1.
You’re arguing that I cannot place a bet on whether the Buffalo Bills win their next game, but I can place a bet on whether or not their lead receiver Stefon Diggs catches the ball ten times or six times,” asked the judge, the Hon. Eugene Fahey.
Since Fahey can legally bet on the Buffallo Bill in New York casinos, it must be assumed he is talking specifically about mobile bets, which are not yet licensed in New York.
But the plaintiffs argued that DFS is gambling, pure and simple.
“I really frankly think what the Legislature has done here is bent over backwards to find some kind of way to circumvent that,” said the plaintiffs’ attorney Cornelius Murray.
The court typically hands down its decisions six to eight weeks after hearing oral arguments.
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