Officials order fantasy sports sites to shut down in Nevada
LAS VEGAS — Daily fantasy sports sites have been dealt a setback with Nevada regulators ordering them out of the state unless they get a gambling license — a decision that’s likely to be closely watched by other states that allow gambling.
DraftKings and FanDuel — sites that have insisted they aren’t gambling and have promised to make millionaires out of sports fans — both pulled out of Nevada by Thursday evening, Oct. 15.
That day’s decision from the Nevada Gaming Control Board allows for daily fantasy sports in the state as long as the operator has or gets a gambling license. No one operating a daily fantasy site has one.
“If you’re licensed in Nevada, you’re good to go,” said A.G. Burnett, chief of the state’s Gaming Control Board. That includes traditional sports books where gamblers generally wager on the outcome of a given game.
The decision comes amid growing backlash by regulators and investigators, including New York’s attorney general, after it was revealed employees often played on competing sites, raising questions about possible insider information being used to win.
Nevada regulators govern the country’s main gambling hub in Las Vegas, and their actions could hold sway with regulators elsewhere.
Thursday night, DraftKings spokeswoman Sabrina Macias emailed a company statement that implied Nevada regulators acted to protect the gambling industry in the state.
“We understand that the gaming industry is important to Nevada and, for that reason, they are taking this exclusionary approach against the increasingly popular fantasy sports industry,” the statement said. It mentions the company had thousands of customers in Nevada but didn’t provide an exact amount.
FanDuel said it was disappointed regulators decided that only existing casinos in Nevada could offer fantasy sports.
“This decision stymies innovation and ignores the fact that fantasy sports is a skill-based entertainment product loved and played by millions of sports fans,” the statement said. “We are examining all options and will exhaust all efforts to bring the fun, challenge and excitement of fantasy sports back to our Nevada fans.”
Participants on the unregulated sites can compete in games involving professional or college sports, paying an entry fee that goes into a larger pool. They try to assemble teams that earn the most points based on real-life stats in a given period with a certain percentage of top finishers earning a payout.
The Nevada Gaming Control Board determined that daily fantasy sports, “involves wagering on the collective performance of individuals participating in sporting events,” making it a sports pool and requiring a gambling license in the state.
The decision didn’t appear to affect season-long fantasy sports but the definition could be used to describe those sites, too, that accept wagers or fees to play.
Fantasy sports, both daily and season-long, are barred in five states: Arizona, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana and Washington.
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