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DraftKings, FanDuel violated lobby law, casino owners say

A gambling group has filed a state ethics

A gambling group has filed a state ethics complaint against FanDuel and DraftKings, the nation's two largest daily fantasy sports gaming companies. Credit: Getty Images / Scott Olson

ALBANY — A gambling group has filed an ethics complaint against FanDuel and DraftKings, the nation’s two largest daily fantasy sports gaming companies, saying they’ve been lobbying the New York State Legislature without registering and reporting their activities.

The state ethics commission should investigate lobbying activities of FanDuel and DraftKings, the New York Gaming Association said in a complaint filed Monday.

An industry representative denied the accusation, saying the group has met all lobbying registration requirements.

The gaming association represents “racinos,” which are facilities that host horse racing as well as video slot machines. The group has contended that legalization of daily fantasy sports is a form of gambling that will hurt its business.

At issue is a bill to legalize daily fantasy sports, declaring them games of “skill,” not chance. Last year, state Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman sued the companies, saying they clearly were participating in illegal gambling and seeking to shut them down. The attorney general and the companies have ceased legal proceedings while the legislature decides how to handle the issue.

In the ethics complaint, NYGA outlines some of the actions pursued by FanDuel and DraftKings, including meeting with state legislators, holding news conferences and launching an industry website (Fantasy Sports for All) to win over lawmakers.

“These web sites were available to be seen by New York State legislators along with the governor,” NYGA attorney David Grandeau wrote. “The web sites generally encourage readers and/or listeners to contact public officials to support legislation or the intended introduction of legislation related to the legalization of fantasy sports. During the relevant time frames, specific legislation was pending and/or was intended to be introduced before the New York State Senate and Assembly that actions by DraftKings, FanDuel and Fantasy Sports for All employees and officers along with statements on the DraftKings FanDuel and/or ‘for all’ web site sought to influence.”

A spokeman for industry group said it has properly registered with the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, which oversees lobbying.

“Fantasy Sports for All and everyone who has a responsibility to register at this time has registered with JCOPE, and if anyone else crosses the threshold, they will register,” Marc LaVorgna, spokesman for Fantasy Sports for All said in an email. “It’s not in question. What is in question is how much Mr. Grandeau is being paid by the casino lobby to shop false complaints.”

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