In major news that came out on Monday, the Amaya-branded daily fantasy sports site StarsDraftis now only accepting real money players from four states. The press release announcing the news added, “StarsDraft players in all jurisdictions will continue to have access to the funds in their online accounts, which are available for withdrawal at any time.”
Last week, officials in Nevada decreed that daily fantasy sports constituted gambling under state law. Therefore, DFS operators were required to obtain a license, just like all other gambling outlets had to do. That mandate caused most of the major DFS sites, including StarsDraft, FanDuel, and DraftKings, to withdraw from Nevada.
Amaya, which also owns PokerStarsand Full Tilt, said of the Nevada news, “Amaya supports the decision by the [Nevada Gaming Control Board] and believes that it is prudent to limit the StarsDraft offering until such time as more states adopt a clear stance on daily fantasy sports.”
As Legal Sports Report explained, Amaya has interests in other states in the form of online gambling, including New Jersey, where it recently obtained a license to offer regulated real money games under the PokerStars and Full Tilt brands. Therefore, Amaya will likely be overly cautious when it comes to accepting players as to not run afoul of US federal or state law.
Speaking of New Jersey, it’s one of only four states where players can now engage in real money games on StarsDraft. The others: Massachusetts, Kansas, and Maryland.
And speaking of being overly cautious, the Amaya press release said, “We have previously called for state regulation and licensing of DFS to ensure consumer protection and strict government oversight of operators. Prior to the launch of StarsDraft and based on a thorough review of the regulatory environment at the time, Amaya decided not to launch StarsDraft in jurisdictions where many of our competitors continue to operate today.”
Seemingly sparking all of these developments were allegations of insider trading by an employee at DraftKings who prematurely released Week 3 ownership data before all lineups had locked. That same week, the employee in question won $350,000 in a game on FanDuel, which, needless to say, raised eyebrows.
A report released on Monday by ESPN said that the employee submitted his lineup 40 minutes before he had access to ownership data; therefore, the data could not have helped him. Since the incident, FanDuel and DraftKings prohibited employees from playing real money DFS games on any site.
FanDuel and DraftKings continue to operate in many states that StarsDraft and others don’t, including Florida, where a grand jury investigation is currently pending. In fact, when this author tried to access his StarsDraft account from Florida over the weekend, he was met with a message saying it was a prohibited jurisdiction (very sad). On Twitter on Monday, talk of DFS investigations, hearings, and related musings in Illinoisand Georgia, among other states, was a hot topic.
Fantasy sports received a carve-out from the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, but as the New York Times asserted on Monday, all that means is that financial transactions from US banks to DFS sites are permitted; the UIGEA does not explicitly make daily fantasy sports legal under state law.
Major League Baseball, several NFL teams, and the NHL, among other multi-billion dollar companies, have invested heavily in the DFS space.