International edition
April 13, 2021

Upholding a lower court ruling

New York appellate court deems fantasy-sports wagering as unconstitutional

New York appellate court deems fantasy-sports wagering as unconstitutional
The law in question is a 2016 amendment to Racing, Pari-Mutuel Wagering, and Breeding Law which declares that online fantasy sports do not constitute gambling and could thus be allowed.
United States | 02/07/2020

The ruling poses a new challenge for daily fantasy sports peddlers like FanDuel and DraftKings who seek to operate in the Empire State. Officials in Albany are expected to ask the state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, to hear the case next.

T

he New York State Appellate Division upheld Thursday a lower court ruling that a 2016 law allowing online fantasy sports betting violated the state’s constitution.

The 2016 amendment to Racing, Pari-Mutuel Wagering, and Breeding Law declares that online fantasy sports do not constitute gambling and could thus be allowed.

A group of anti-gambling advocates sued over the law arguing that it violated the constitution.

In October 2018, Albany Supreme Court Justice Gerald Connolly agreed with them and declared the 2016 amendment “null and void.”

The ruling was based on the appellate court's finding that, while daily fantasy sports require skill, they also involve a degree of chance — such as whether a player might have an injury or illness or be affected by bad weather or poor officiating.

"We recognize that the legislature was sympathetic to and supportive of IFS (interactive fantasy services) participants," the appellate panel wrote in its decision. "Nevertheless, we have rejected the legislature’s explicitly stated basis for the removal of IFS from the Penal Law definitions of gambling."

Officials in Albany are expected to ask the state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, to hear the case next, New York Post reports.

FanDuel said in a statement, “We expect that there will be an appeal and we’ll be able to continue to offer contests while that appeal is decided.”

DraftKings also issued a statement saying that “the legislative action authorizing fantasy sports in New York was constitutional and in the best interests of taxpayers and fantasy sports fans.”

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