New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation Wednesday formally legalizing daily fantasy sports in the Empire State and handing the embattled industry its biggest victory to date.
Fantasy operators that were active in New York before Nov. 10, 2015 must receive a temporary permit from the New York Gaming Commission before reopening for business. The process isn't expected to take long, and FanDuel and DraftKings, the two leading daily fantasy operators, expect to be up and running in New York before the NFL season kicks off in early September, if not sooner.
"Daily fantasy sports have proven to be popular in New York, but until now have operated with no supervision and no protections for players," Cuomo said in a release. "This legislation strikes the right balance that allows this activity to continue with oversight from state regulators, new consumer protections, and more funding for education."
Cuomo's signature gives closure to a tenuous nine months for the industry that began with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman charging FanDuel and DraftKings with illegal gambling and attempt to shut them down. The sites eventually settled with the attorney general and in March stopped operating in New York, one of fantasy sports' largest revenue-producing states.
"This success in New York speaks to the strength and passion of our players who stood up and made their voices heard -- and their elected leaders responded," FanDuel CEO Nigel Eccles said Wednesday in a statement.
"On behalf of everyone at DraftKings, we look forward to welcoming New Yorkers back and are excited that fans in some of the greatest sports towns in the world will once again be playing the fantasy sports contests they love," DraftKings CEO Jason Robins said in his own statement.
On June 18, in an extended and heated legislative session that lasted until 2 a.m., the New York Senate voted to pass the fantasy sports bill. Cuomo waited seven weeks to sign the bill, during which passionate fantasy supporters rallied to sway lawmakers with emails, social media messages and phone calls.
According to research firm Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, New York residents were responsible for $268.3 million in entry fees in 2015, second behind only California. Industry advocate Fantasy for All estimates more than three million New Yorkers participate in fantasy sports.
"I'm thrilled," said New York Assemblyman Dean Murray, one of the fantasy sports bill's co-sponsors. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go work on my lineup."
New York is the eighth state to pass legislation clarifying the legality of fantasy sports this year. Several states remain in limbo, though, including Texas and Illinois. FanDuel has stopped paid games in Texas, while DraftKings is in the middle of a legal battle with state Attorney General Ken Paxton. Both sites have sued Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who issued an opinion that daily fantasy violates state gambling laws. FanDuel and DraftKings remain active in Illinois.
In New York, FanDuel and DraftKings still face charges of false advertising and consumer fraud. Schneiderman says he will continue to move forward with those claims.