This weekend marks the end of the college basketball season and with it, the end of college sports contests on daily fantasy sports (DFS) sites DraftKings and FanDuel. The two DFS leaders announced Thursday that after Monday’s championship game of the men’s NCAA basketball tournament, they will cease offering contests on college sports.
Gambling on college sports, while extremely prevalent, has always been more controversial than gambling in professional sports. And since many (most?) people consider DFS gambling, DFS games based on college sports have been a sticky issue.
According to ESPN.com, though, the decision to stop college sports contests shouldn’t hurt the daily fantasy sports sites. College basketball and football combined make up only 3 percent of FanDuel’s revenue. As ESPN.com put it, “the NFL daily fantasy market is 10 to 20 times larger than the college football market.”
In a statement posted on its website, FanDuel said of the decision:
As a leader in calling for smart, common sense regulations for the fantasy sports industry, FanDuel has had months of productive conversations with the NCAA, their member institutions, and various state legislators to better understand their concerns around fantasy sports contests based on amateur athletics. It is clear that this is an issue that matters to a variety of constituencies and we feel that the best path forward is to suspend offering these contests pending resolution on the issue within state legislatures.
The NCAA’s home state of Indiana and our home state of New York were two of the first states to take up this debate. Indiana has passed and New York is considering fantasy sports laws that protect consumers, protect the right to play fantasy sports, AND contain carve-outs stating fantasy contests involving amateur sports are barred in their states. The Massachusetts Attorney General issued regulations with a similar carve-out. We supported all of these efforts, and going forward we will actively support bills containing the same provisions. We are pleased that we can work together with the NCAA on smart regulations for the fantasy sports industry.
In a statement published by ESPN.com, NCAA president Mark Emmert expressed his gratitude for the concession made by DraftKings and FanDuel:
We appreciate and commend DraftKings and FanDuel’s action to stop offering contests involving college, high school and youth sports,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said in a statement issued Thursday. “This action culminates months of hard work between all parties to reach a place that is good for amateur sports and most importantly, the young people who participate. We will work diligently with our member schools over the coming year to ensure such amateur sports ‘carve outs’ are included in pending states’ legislation.
As FanDuel mentioned, of the three states that have enacted DFS regulations, Massachusetts and Indiana have specifically included language that prohibits DFS sites from offering contests on amateur sports, which includes college sports. ESPN notes that of the 30 states to introduce DFS legislation this year, though, only five have included a ban on college sports.