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Daily Fantasy Sports is Legal in New York – Says Court of Appeal

The New York state’s court of Appeal has finally ruled whether Daily Fantasy Sports, DFS (also known as Interactive Fantasy Sports) is legal under the laws of New York. The vote deciding the ruling went 4-3 to classify DFS as a regulated game. Reading the judgment, New York’s chief Judge, Janet DiFiore, stated that DFS games require skill more than chance and could be claimed as not gambling. 

She ordered the New York legislature to put the games under the list of items to be regulated. Legal topweights in New York, such as Wallach Legal LLC owner Mr. Daniel Wallach. Claims the debate with the DFS in New York is coming to an end.

The suit was brought before the court by a nonprofit organization that advocates for an end to commercial gaming. Speaking on behalf of the group, Neil Murray, an attorney, expressed disappointment over the failure of the court to apply the usual standards/guidelines when it comes to deciding whether an activity that involves winning money is by chance (gambling) or more skill-based – something we have seen with poker over the years.

This ruling means that residents of New York can legally enjoy the best daily fantasy sports betting sites at According to law, DFS fantasy sports are no longer classed as a form of gambling. Instead, successful players require a certain amount of skill when selecting their fantasy teams.

Legal Battle History

The battle determining the legality of DFS has been on for more than five years. In 2015, Eric Schneiderman, the then-Attorney General of New York, ordered a cease-and-desist letter, shutting down the operations of all DFS operators, including DraftKings and FanDuel, in the state. 

DFS became legalized in 2016 when the state’s legislature began proceedings. It included holding public hearings to hear the public’s opinion. It then passed Article 13 from the Racing, Pari-Mutuel Wagering and Breeding Law which classified DFS competitions as part of skill games. 

After signing it into law, the state’s legislature was dragged to the courts. The plaintiffs claimed that the legislature lacked legal powers to use Article 14 on games like the DFS, which trumped the state’s stance on gambling prohibition. 

According to the trial and intermediate appellate courts, the plaintiffs were correct in claiming the legislature had exceeded its powers. Both courts ruled that Article 14 was not strong enough to cover DFS and led the game as a gambling sport. 

At the court of Appeal, the tone was different. It first stated what the state-defined gambling as. Gambling was a contest where chances were needed more than the skill and knowledge of the participants to get the result. 

Daily Fantasy Sports Requires More Skill than Chance

The ruling became necessary, seeing as the state’s laws were clear on games that could be classified as gambling. The constitution of New York has prohibited all games requiring luck alone. This includes video slots, casino games, bingo, and many other forms of online and land-based gambling. Now that the DFS has been ruled a game of skill, it was not a category member.

Judge DiFiore, in her ruling, stated that evidence presented before the court showed research had been conducted to show that skilled players were more successful in the games than just randomly selected teams. This became clearer when part of her statement mentioned that if games are skill-based, the player will influence, and as such, the outcome is not gambling, i.e., not a ‘chance’ win and one based on knowledge. A good example is the latest video games, or board games such as chess, which are games that require skill to win rather than pure luck. 

The Outcome of The Judgement

Although the Court of Appeal ruling has finally brought the matter to a conclusion, there may be no significant change in operations. Since the operators of DFS were already operating even with the case in the courts, the ruling only settled the regulatory aspect of all Daily Fantasy Sports competitions. All it means is that there is now no recourse that can come against those operators in the short term. Laws have now covered the operations of these brands and classed them as offering legal services. 

With the decision already enforcing the judgment of the New York legislature of Article 14 on DFS, mobile sports betting may now see all DFS tournaments included in the list of sports events to be offered to New York residents. This means that fantasy sports fans in New York, a state famous for its historic nickname ‘The Big Apple’, have plenty to look forward to. 

Jess Shaver
Jess Shaver
Online Entrepreneur. Successfully running and operating multiple eCommerce ventures, in between writing about it all.

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