Daily fantasy sports fans in New York are trying not to get their hopes up after a key legislator suggested a deal had been reached to bring DFS back to the Empire State.
On Tuesday, state Sen. John Bonacic told the Buffalo News that legislators had “agreed upon a bill between the Assembly and the Senate on fantasy sports.” Bonacic said the compromise legislation would define DFS as a game of skill, thereby exempting it from the state’s ban on games of chance.
The new bill would impose a license fee of $150k or 1.5% of the previous year’s revenue from New York players. Smaller operators could pay fees of as little as $1k depending on their revenue. All operators will face 15% tax on their New York DFS revenue.
Local players have been without their DFS fix ever since DraftKings and FanDuel suspended real-money fantasy play in the state in March. Their exit came after a deal with state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who declared the operators persona non grata and commenced legal action against the companies last fall for operating illegal gambling sites.
New York stakeholders have been divided on bringing DFS in from the cold, with the operators of the state’s racetrack casinos expressing opposition unless DFS operators were required to partner up with a racino. Tuesday’s report said the compromise bill did not include such a requirement.
Lack of support from the racino industry and other anti-gambling lawmakers could scuttle the bill before it ever reaches Gov. Andrew Cuomo, whose signature is required for the bill to take effect. Bonacic claimed Cuomo was seeking some “technical amendments” to the compromise bill but otherwise suggested the good guv was good to go.
News of a deal came one day after Bonacic told Time Warner Cable News that there was “still a lot of pressure and a lot of arguments to prevent the bill, so we have to get through a lot of smoke first, and an education process, for both houses to get it done” before the legislature adjourns on June 16.
Bonacic, who chairs the Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee, authored the Senate’s original DFS bill while the Assembly version came courtesy of Assemblyman Gary Pretlow. Both bills passed committee votes but have yet to reach the floors of their respective chambers. The New York Daily News quoted Pretlow saying he was “100% confident” that the legislation would beat the clock.
Tuesday also brought a ransom note from FanDuel, which is based in Manhattan. FanDuel CEO Nigel Eccles warned legislators that his company and its 175-strong workforce “will likely be forced to find a new home” if legislators fail to pass the necessary bill in time.