New York Senate Bets In Favor Of Fantasy Sports Leagues; Legislation Now Goes To Governor

New Yorkers might not have to fantasize about fantasy sports much longer. Early today, the state’s Senate passed a measure to regulate and tax such fantasy sports games as baseball, football and basketball. The bill, which would re-start the multi-billion-dollar industry in the state, now moves to Governor Andrew Cuomo.

DraftKings, a leader of the fantasy sports industry, called the Senate’s bill a “sensible framework” and pledged to resume operations in the state soon. Rival FanDuel, in a statement from company CEO Nigel Eccles, said the bill “speaks to the popularity of our game.” If Cuomo approves the measure, New York would be the seventh state to OK fantasy sports this year.

The measure passed the Senate with a vote of 45-17 this morning. The state’s Assembly passed the bill on Friday.

“New York fantasy sports fans rallied — with more than 100,000 emails and thousands of phone calls to legislators — and legislators heard them and responded,” said Eccles’ statement. “The bill represents a thoughtful legislative process, where bi-partisanship and willingness to compromise carried the day, and we are extremely hopeful Governor Cuomo will sign this bill. We decided long ago to build FanDuel in New York because it’s the sports capital of the world and a thriving home for tech startups — a natural fit for fantasy sports. Our success is due in no small part to the people, infrastructure, partnerships and opportunities here, which very few locations in the world can offer.”

The bill was sponsored by State Senator John Bonacic, and would impose, among other regulations, a 15 percent annual state tax on gross revenues from sports fantasy contests that have entry fees. According to Bonacic, state revenue from the industry could reach an annual $5.5 million.

Last fall, after New York State’s crackdown on fantasy sports sites DraftKings and FanDuel, Deadline reported that the two fantasy firms spent more than $118 million in September 2015 on TV ad sales.

In March, Deadline reported New York’s attorney general Eric Schneiderman’s announcement that FanDuel and DraftKings would no longer take bets following a cease and desist order from his office.

Schneiderman released a statement today noting that his job is to “enforce the law,” and that he’d “enforce and defend” the amended law to legalize daily fantasy sports. He said his office would continue to pursue claims that DraftKings and FanDuel “previously engaged in false advertising and consumer fraud.”

In a tweet Saturday, FanDuel told New Yorkers: “You spoke up. They listened.”


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