BOSTON (AP) – Daily fantasy sports companies DraftKings and FanDuel voiced support Thursday for Massachusetts’ approach to regulating their controversial industry as states across the country weigh greater restrictions or outright bans on the games played for money.
Speaking before the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, Zakary Cutler, director of product management for Boston’s DraftKings, said regulations proposed by the state’s attorney general appear “reasonable” and “pretty thorough.”
Stephen Martino, a lawyer for New York’s FanDuel, echoed that sentiment, suggesting Massachusetts’s approach could be a template for other states to follow.
“They’re a good starting point,” he said of Healey’s proposal. “There’s a real commitment that’s come from the very top of FanDuel to see the right thing done.”
Both companies declined to elaborate on their positions on Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s proposal, saying they’ll provide detailed comments ahead of a hearing next month on the plan.
Healey has proposed regulations that would require daily fantasy sports players to be at least 21 years of age, prohibit college sports from the competitions, require stronger player data protections and programs to help problem gamblers, among other requirements.
“What we heard today is that they need to know the rules of the road,” Gaming Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby said, following remarks from DraftKings and FanDuel representatives. “So as long as the rules are, in their terms, commercially viable and technologically feasible, they will welcome them. That seems like a perfectly reasonable starting point.”
The Massachusetts debate comes as other states have taken more drastic measures.
Nevada, for example, has restricted daily fantasy sports operations in that state to companies that possess a gambling license.
New York’s attorney general, meanwhile, has ordered DraftKings and FanDuel to cease operations in the state, a move that the two companies are challenging in court.
At the heart of the debate is whether the games are a form of gambling or sports betting and should be banned or treated like other forms of gambling.
Fantasy sports companies contend a provision in the 2006 federal law that banned online gambling allows them to operate freely in 45 states that don’t have specific prohibitions on the contests.
“We firmly believe this is a game of skill that’s legal in Massachusetts and should be subject to reasonable regulations,” former state Attorney General Martha Coakley, who now serving as legal counsel to DraftKings, said Thursday.
No votes or decisions were expected from the daylong hearing, which included discussion from a range of industry watchers.
The hearing is part of the commission’s efforts to develop a policy paper on daily fantasy sports for the consideration for Massachusetts lawmakers and other elected leaders.
Follow Philip Marcelo at twitter.com/philmarcelo. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/journalist/philip-marcelo
(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)