Albany Law School’s Government Law Center Explains Daily Fantasy Sports in New York

According to the Fantasy Sports & Gaming Association, over 30 million Americans play daily fantasy sports (DFS). With the National Football League season starting, and Major League Baseball still in full swing, the Government Law Center (GLC) at Albany Law School explores, “White v. Cuomo: What Comes Next After Daily Fantasy Sports Gambling in New York?” in its latest explainer.

In March, the Court upheld a 2016 law authorizing DFS in New York, in a 4-3 decision. The Court determined that skill predominates chance in DFS and, therefore, contests are not subject to the state’s historic prohibition on gambling. 

“Courts’ decisions on what constitutes gambling in various states have had seemingly endless unintended consequences. Any decision attempting to establish a bright line rule on what constitutes permissible quasi-gambling is likely to be subject to numerous legal, logical, and ironical questions. That is evident in New York State, whose constitutional provision has been debated with little resolution for over 125 years,” writes author and Government Lawyer in Residence Bennett Liebman. “

While immediate fiscal and legal ramifications may be minimal, Liebman points out the decision’s impact may grow. To name just a few examples, chess matches/tournaments, fishing derbies, darts competitions, trivia contents, closest-to-the-pin golfing, poker and non-poker card tournaments, football parlay betting, exchange wagering, and e-sports could all be, arguably, constitutional in New York.

“The decision in White v. Cuomo may not have significant fiscal consequences for the State or for the companies that run DFS contests. Given the need for the legislature to find a way to work around the lower definitional threshold for the term ‘gambling’ in the Penal Law, there may be no immediate quasi-gambling operations that will be approved in New York. Nonetheless, in years to come, as more quasi-gambling contests seek legislative authorization in New York, the decision in White v. Cuomo will be of great significance. We will learn in future years whether that decision, with its slippery slopes, establishes a clear bright line or a murky fine line,” Liebman concludes.

Read the explainer here.

An edited version is in the Gaming Law Review.

The explainer is the latest in a series from the GLC that concisely map out the law that applies to important questions of public policy. The GLC has also created explainers on a variety of topics, including state constitutional amendments, voting rights, government ethics reform, political redistricting in New York, immigration, aging, and policing policy, among others.

Read more here.