Daily Fantasy Sports in New York Faces Constitutional Challenge

Just when New York residents thought it was safe to activate their daily fantasy sports accounts, another suit has been filed in the Empire State seeking the immediate and permanent halt to daily fantasy sports. The recent attack is coming from a group known as the Stop Predatory Gambling (SPG) advocacy group. SPG filed a suit contending that the recent law enacted back in August regarding daily fantasy sports not constitutional. SPG claims that in order to enact New York’s controversial daily fantasy sports law, a constitutional amendment is necessary. SPG cites Article 1, Section 9 of New York’s Constitution, which reads:

“No law shall be passed… except as hereinafter provided, no lottery or sale of lottery tickets, pool-selling, bookmaking, or any other kind of gambling, except lotteries operated by the state…except pari-mutuel betting on horse races…and except casino gambling at no more than seven facilities as authorized and prescribed by the legislature shall hereafter be authorized or allowed within this state…”

Noticeably absent from the exceptions is daily fantasy sports. SPG claims daily fantasy sports is a form of gambling, and the above constitutional provision needs to be amended to include daily fantasy sports as an exception to continue legal operation in New York.

The argument from proponents of daily fantasy sports in New York is clear; daily fantasy sports are not gambling. Advocates point to legislation passed in August, which define daily fantasy sports as a game of skill and not gambling. Thus, proponents maintain daily fantasy sports are not subject SPG’s constitutional attack.

The opponents are not convinced. They argue that the legislature cannot simply define daily fantasy sports as a game of skill to circumvent the requirement of a constitutional amendment. It will be up to the court to determine if the legislature has the power to define gambling without a constitutional amendment as this case goes forward.

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