Although the proposed merger between FanDuel and DraftKings (the two largest daily fantasy sports service providers) was recently called off, the fantasy sports industry continues to thrive and evolve. Over the past couple of years, over a dozen states have passed laws legalizing and regulating fantasy sports contests. In addition to these statutes, federal laws and state common law interpretations of existing gambling and lottery laws have paved a way forward for what should continue to be a robust gaming industry throughout much of the country.
In order to get up and running, credit card companies and payment processors require that fantasy sports operators obtain a fantasy sports opinion letter from a qualified law firm as a prerequisite to accepting the fantasy sports operators as clients. The fantasy sports opinion letter must establish that, upon a review of the subject fantasy sports operator’s business practices, the operator adheres to the many federal and state requirements that apply to its fantasy sports offerings.
Does My Business Need a Fantasy Sports Opinion Letter?
While operators must comply with all applicable state and federal laws in connection with their fantasy sports business operations, that alone is not enough to ensure that businesses will have the necessary tools to succeed in the current regulatory environment. Banks, credit card companies and payment processors alike require that daily fantasy sports businesses obtain, and maintain, a legal opinion letter from a law firm with knowledge and expertise in the practice area of fantasy sports and gaming.
While some of the specifics may vary based on the entity requesting the fantasy sports opinion letter, most service providers require that the opinion letter describe the particulars of the fantasy sports contest(s) offered by the applicable business, and whether the game play/functionality, fee structure, prize payouts and other features of the subject fantasy sports contest(s) comply(ies) with applicable state and federal law.
In connection with the foregoing, most fantasy sports opinion letters should discuss, on a state-by-state basis, whether the particular fantasy sports offerings comply with each such state’s legal requirements, or whether the fantasy sports offerings are, instead, blocked to residents of certain states. In addition, fantasy sports opinion letters should address whether or not the subject fantasy sports offerings comply with applicable federal laws which include, without limitation, the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (“UIGEA”), the Interstate Wire Act (the “Wire Act”), the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (“PASPA”), the Federal Antigambling Statute (the “Gambling Act”) and the Travel Act.
The Opinion Letter of the Law
Like most other businesses, fantasy sports operators cannot function without bank, credit card and payment processing services. In order to obtain those vital services, each fantasy sports operator must be able to show, through a fantasy sports opinion letter from a reputable firm that practices in the area of gaming law, that the operator complies with applicable state and federal law and regulation. For those reasons, it is essential to retain experienced, knowledgeable fantasy sports attorneys to review fantasy sports operations and, if compliant, provide the subject businesses with the requisite fantasy sports opinion letters in order to enter the marketplace.
Please note that this is only a brief overview of some of the legal issues surrounding daily fantasy sports and the opinion letters required to obtain payment processing services.