Nevada Relationship With Daily Fantasy Sports Remains Complicated

Written By Dustin Gouker on August 24, 2016

The daily fantasy sports industry has effectively been shut down in Nevada since last fall, when state officials said that operators needed a gaming license to be active in the state.

That’s going to change — sort of — with the introduction of a new DFS product. But the bulk of the industry, as it is currently situated, doesn’t have a clear path back into Nevada.

USFantasy launching

A product based on the DFS idea — but also very different — appears to be just days away from launching, just in time for NFL season:

USFantasy is the only entity that has applied for a license to operate a DFS product, to date. It received the license back in June.

If you’re familiar with the idea of DFS via sites like DraftKings and FanDuel, USFantasy is quite different:

  • You will only be able to play in Nevada, via sportsbooks.
  • While scoring is based on the idea of traditional “fantasy points” accumulated by real-life players, wagering is done on a pari-mutuel basis.
  • Traditional DFS is based on and limited by a salary-cap model, but you can pick any player you want at USFantasy.

More on the USFantasy model here.

It’s not yet known which sportsbooks will use the USFantasy platform.

DraftKings, FanDuel, not any time soon

After a hearing with Nevada government officials and casino interests, the return of the rest of the DFS industry remains in doubt.

The Nevada Gaming Policy Committee held a meeting regarding the regulation of DFS on Tuesday, and it didn’t go very well for the industry.

DraftKings and FanDuel had drafted proposed legislation to regulate DFS in the state; that proposal was widely criticized by the committee as being far too light on its regulatory measures.

The meeting closed with no sense of what Nevada might do to make it easier for DFS companies to re-enter the state — if anything.

It’s important to note that DFS is not illegal, currently, in Nevada, unless you operate without a gaming license. Applying for such a license is something current operators have been loathe to do.

Casinos, fans of DFS, but not

Casino interests in the state remained supportive of the concept of DFS, but not in making it easier for them to get into Nevada.

The licensing requirements for DFS operators proposed at the meeting were far less stringent than what gaming license applicants face in Nevada.

For instance, a group of casino interests in the state wrote a letter to the NGPC:

…the undersigned companies encourage innovation and invite competition and would welcome the fantasy sports operators as licensees in Nevada — provided they are licensed and regulated under the same rigorous regulatory standards as other licenses.

MGM CEO Jim Murren expressed similar, if not identical, concerns, as did USFantasy.

The bottom line: Without the support of the casinos, it’s difficult to see a path forward for DFS sites’ return to Nevada.

Mat Hayward / Shutterstock.com

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Dustin Gouker

Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer -- including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner. A lifelong poker enthusiast, Dustin has written about poker and online gambling for nearly a decade and serves as the editor of LegalSportsReport.com.

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