Symposium Has Its Eye on Fantasy Sites

On paper, a panel at the Symposium on Racing and Gaming, had potential of being one of the most dynamic of this two-day conference, however, in the execution was a different matter and turned out to be something of a dud.

There was a panel, which was entitled "Serious Realities in Fantasy Sports," had promised a in-depth discussion pertaining to the issues that surround the Daily Fantasy Sports, in a market that has recently drawn enormous attention due to scrutiny from law-enforcement officials and regulators in several states. The panel's participants included a gambling attorney, from Nevada, and a state senator, from New Jersey, in a state that has been trying to legalize sports wagering despite the many persistent challenges from all the major sports leagues.

One of the items the panel was expected to discuss was a lawsuit that was filed recently The Stronach Group, who is a racing conglomerate, against Derby Wars, who owns an internet site allowing customers to enter into pay-to-play contests which will reward a player that posts the highest returns from fictional wagers placed on a series of races.

But, when the panel got together the lawsuit was not even mentioned once, despite all the critical issues that were raised by the lawsuit's arguments that the Derby Wars site is conducting wagering which is in violation of Federal law and therefore simultaneously violating Interstate Horse racing Act by their failing to cut tracks and the horsemen in on a cut of their revenues. In addition, this suit has raised several related concerns within the racing industry, which included questions on whether handicapping contests, that is an important component of racing marketing efforts, should also be declared illegal if the Stronach Group prevails.

Although the suit and related issues were not addressed during the panel discussion, the participants debated the daily Fantasy sites and if they were offering contests that fall under an exception, that is contained in the 2006 Federal law that is aimed at banning most forms of gambling, of Fantasy Sports. The participants in general came to an agreement that the sites were in fact conducting gambling operations, and the panel's legislator in the state of New Jersey, Sen. Raymond Lesniak, appeared via video link, said that he believed that New Jersey would pass a legislation would also require that the sites to be licensed and also subject to regulations legislation that would provide "consumer protections.

A panellist, John Ford, who is the chief executive of BAM Software, develops parimutuel betting platforms, said that he believed racing needed to target on Daily Fantasy Players because they share similar characteristics as parimutuel players. He Continued that they thought Fantasy was an opportunity for racing to convert these players.

At the end of the panel discussion the subject of regulating Racing Fantasy sites come up, and Tom DiPasquale, who is the executive director of Minnesota Racing Commission, predicted that the Racing Commission would be passing regulations for the site and would need operators that will submit to the regulations, pay their taxes, and they would direct a portion of their revenues towards the racing industry. Mr. DiPasquale made his comments from the audience.

Mr DiPasquale said that it was just the same way they'd treat an account-wagering company.