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Take fantasy out of New York gambling rules

These are apps for online gaming sites, DraftKings

These are apps for online gaming sites, DraftKings FanDuel on Oct. 5, 2015. Credit: Bloomberg News / Andrew Harrer

The race to legalize daily fantasy sports wagering in New York is in the home stretch. It appears likely a deal will come together before the end of the legislative session next month, but there is still plenty to be worked out.

The first congressional hearing on the subject, in Washington earlier this month, is only muddying the waters, though it seems unlikely regulation of these games is going to end up in federal hands. One big question being debated in New York is licensing fees, which were $500,000 per company in an early Senate bill, a level that would kill the smallest of the 28 companies in the New York market. Also key to passage are safeguards against cheating, preventing play by minors and truth in advertising — the industry can’t really argue that it’s a game of skill and then advertise that casual players can easily score big money by beating the pros.

State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and representatives of the industry he shut down, such as giants DraftKings and FanDuel, agreed to a truce in March. The sites stopped taking plays in the state. If the State Legislature and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo declare the contests legal, Schneiderman will drop his attempts to stop the games in court. If the games are not legalized, his case, which hinges on whether daily fantasy sports are games of chance and thus constitutionally banned gambling, will be heard in September.

Leaders of legislative committees who oversee wagering say they are working on legislation to legalize the games, which is wise. Players want them and non-players mostly don’t care. And the pretense that the state constitution prohibits gambling has gone from silly to simply exhausting.

— The editorial board