SPORT

Bitter DraftKings Fans Take Out Frustration On NY Attorney General

Eric Schneiderman is responsible for banning the fantasy sports site in New York, but also receives extensive contributions from the gambling industry

SPORT
on October 16, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. — Scott Olson
Dec 11, 2015 at 6:12 PM ET

Daily fantasy sports sites DraftKings and FanDuel were dealt a major blow Friday when a New York Supreme Court justice upheld a ruling that bars the sites from taking bets in the state.

USA Today reports that the sites have been granted a temporary stay by the New York Supreme Court, which will allow them to operate at least until January 4th.

The ruling concludes that playing in daily fantasy pools–where fans pay a fee to enter a lineup in a pool, and the winners of the pool receive huge cash payouts–is less a game of skill and more a game of luck. In short, the court says it’s gambling.

And it is gambling. Very much akin to poker, there is an element of skill to fantasy sports; you have to manage a fake budget and know which athletes are likely to have a good game. But daily fantasy players have no control over how the athletes perform, just as a poker player has no control over what cards they’re dealt.

More FanDuel Just Might Be Poaching DraftKings Users

This would seem like a clear case of the law being aptly applied if it weren’t for the lawyer making the case. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who sent DraftKings and FanDuel cease-and-desist orders in November, has received more than $150,000 in campaign donations from New York gambling interests–including 48,000 from the New York Gaming Association, and $25,000 from Ronald Perelman, a maker of casino game machines. Adding to the intruigue: his ex-wife has clients in the industry.

The traditional gambling industry appears to see daily fantasy sites as competition, much the same way online gambling was. At a trade show in September, how to address the rise of daily fantasy was the hot topic, and Bloomberg reported that the American Gaming Association, which represents the industry, met with seven attorneys general to discuss “non-traditional forms of wagering.”

Couple this with the fact that Schneiderman is rumored to be eyeing a run for governor, and the daily fantasy ban has all the right pieces for a political corruption scandal.

This fact is not lost on angry daily fantasy players, who took to Schneiderman’s Twitter account to voice their displeasure. Fans trolled Schneiderman by asking for advice on Powerball numbers, while (many) others just went straight for his jugular:

While the ruling is a setback, DraftKings and FanDuel are appealing the decision, and one doesn’t have to go too far back in history to find an example of a company overcoming threats from a New York politician. In July, Uber basically bullied New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio out of plans to impose new regulations on taxi apps.

If the sites lose their appeal of the ruling, though, it’s not a stretch to think it could kill the daily fantasy industry as it exists now. Other states would likely follow New York’s lead, and the prospect of a national ban on the pool plays would follow. The pool plays are the sites’ primary revenue stream. Without the pool plays, the sites would have to reorganize their entire business model.