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Legalizing of daily fantasy sports seen in New York State

ALBANY – The chairmen of the Senate and Assembly wagering committees said they are preparing final legislation that they hope will lead to the legalization of daily fantasy sports contests in New York.

“I’m optimistic that we will have a same-as bill. I’m optimistic that both of those bills will pass by the end of session,” said State Sen. John J. Bonacic, R-Mount Hope, chairman of the Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee.

He said he expects that the Senate bill could be introduced as early as next Thursday.

His counterpart Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow, D-Mount Vernon, chairman of the Assembly Racing and Wagering Committee, said he was working on the final version and wants to run it by state Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman for his review. He said he expects it to be the same as Bonacic’s measure. “I’m not saying much about it now, but generally it’s going to have licensing, tax and consumer protections in it,” Pretlow said.

Pretlow said that he does not expect that the Assembly bill will be introduced in time to have it be brought for a vote at next week’s meeting of the committee but that it’s likely the measure will be on the panel’s agenda June 1 or 2.

The two lawmakers are rushing to get the measure through before the 2016 legislative session ends June 16.

Schneiderman, who went to court last year to get daily fantasy sports halted because of his legal claim that the contests amount to illegal forms of gambling, agreed in March to suspend his court action pending a decision by the Legislature and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo sometime in June on whether the contests should be legalized and regulated by the state.

Among the many unanswered questions:

• How will consumers be protected?

• How will underage teens be kept from playing the contests?

• How will the tax or regulatory fee provisions be structured in such a way so that small fantasy sports companies are not put at a competitive disadvantage against the two largest players, FanDuel and DraftKings?

FanDuel, based in New York City, and DraftKings, headquartered in Boston, have said their contests are legal under New York law because they are games of skill, not chance. Still, the two companies, in the March deal with Schneiderman, agreed to halt their New York contests while they make a last-ditch effort to get lawmakers to definitively state that the daily games are legal. If the Legislature and Cuomo don’t act, the court action could resume before a midlevel state appeals court.

email: tprecious@buffnews.com