After receiving sharp criticism from pick ‘em-style fantasy sports brands, the NC Lottery Commission voted to exclude definitions of fantasy sports from the current version of sports betting rules.
Fantasy operators that allow players to make prop-style picks are under fire in some states. This year, places that enacted measures to ban pick’em style games include Michigan, New York, Wyoming and Florida.
During Tuesday’s NCLC meeting, the agency’s chief legal officer, William Traurig, outlined the reasoning for removing the definition at this point of the online sports betting rules-making process.
“I’ve seen in the news that there were questions regarding fantasy contests,” stated Traurig. “Staff has recommended that we remove the proposed definition of fantasy contests from the proposed rulemaking at this time. We actually had a pretty even split on whether this definition should remain in or should be removed. However, we want to take this time to focus on moving the rules forward, to getting the operators licensed and the suppliers and service providers, and getting our places of public accommodation ready to operate, and have sportsbetting launched in a timely and efficient manner.”
Underdog Fantasy and PrizePicks Rip NCLC definition
The first public draft of proposed rules included the struck-through definition of fantasy sports that representatives from Underdog Fantasy and PrizePicks slammed for being vague and confusing during a public hearing on Oct. 27.
The early draft of the rules outlined the types of contests that fantasy operators could not include in their products such as those “based on proposition wagering or contests that involve, result in, or have the effect of mimicking proposition wagering or other forms of Sports Wagering.”
The fantasy contest definition also prohibited games where customers could choose “directly or indirectly, whether individuals or a single real-world team will surpass an identified statistical achievement, such as points scored.”
Underdog Fantasy attorney Nick Green argued that “it’s very difficult to even determine what kind of fantasy contest would even be allowed under the rules.”
Tom Lee, a lawyer for PrizePicks, also voiced harsh condemnation of the language around fantasy sports in the first batch of rules.
“PrizePicks is operated lawfully in North Carolina since 2020. We have hundreds of thousands of customers in this state. This proposed law says (to) those North Carolinians ‘You’re doing something wrong. You’re doing something that you should not be allowed to do. This commission intends to stop it’ and that respectfully is wrong.”
The Future of Prop-style Fantasy Sports in NC
Just because regulators punted on the proposed definition of fantasy sports from the first draft of sports betting rules doesn’t mean that a definition won’t reappear later. However, given the current controversy in other states and the emphasis on getting North Carolina online sports betting launched by the June 15, 2024, state law-mandated deadline, the NCLC is deciding to put fantasy sports on the back burner.
“You all know that this is also being dealt with in other states,” Traurig said. “So we are going to monitor the development in other states and put this aside for now. So, we suggest that this definition is removed from the rules for the time being and is, as we focus on actually the launch of sports betting.”
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