Viewpoint

Fantasy sports operator: Yes, we need regulation

Fantasy sports is now a $20 billion a year industry.
Fantasy sports is now a $20 billion a year industry. AP

I’ve seen criticism of the fantasy sports bill moving through our state legislature, calling it government overreach and anti-business. As CEO and co-founder of FantasyDraft.com, a small startup fantasy sports operator based in Cornelius, I think it’s important to consider the true economic impact of the legislation.

House Bill 279 provides two major benefits: First, it creates legal certainty for fantasy sports in North Carolina. While we have yet to see a legal challenge to the right to play fantasy sports in our state, we have seen it in multiple other states. Frankly our applicable laws are dated, written decades ago, before we all had devices in our pockets and certainly before there were any indications to the way people would be playing fantasy sports today. Unfortunately, these same laws could lead to potential questions about the legality of modern fantasy sports contests. House Bill 279 would make the necessary updates to our laws to clearly state fantasy sports are welcome in the Tar Heel state.

Secondly, and equally important, it establishes key consumer safeguards to ensure all fantasy sports companies are acting appropriately. There are bad apples in every industry, and ours is no different. Without the proper protections consumers could be hurt by the irresponsible actions of a few bad actors who today, would face no repercussions for their actions. We’re a new industry and when one company acts in an inappropriate manner, it harms all of us and ultimately compromises consumer trust in the product. It is critical to the success of the industry that customers trust that the companies they are interacting with are treating them fairly.

Fantasy sports are no longer a niche pastime played by a few people in their basement. With 57 million people playing and billions of dollars flowing through daily fantasy platforms alone, it’s time to get proper rules in place to protect the public.

By affirming fantasy sports are protected under law, establishing the proper consumer protections to give customers confidence that they are protected, the legislature will create certainty for our industry in North Carolina.

What happens when businesses have certainty and are operating on solid footing? We invest additional capital in our companies. We hire more people from our communities. We continue to innovate, and if we execute, we drive economic growth in North Carolina.

And this isn’t only about companies like ours who operate fantasy sports contests – there is an entire industry supported by the boom in fantasy sports. Fantasy sports analysis and commentary sites, data and analytics providers, payment processing and more all stemming from the explosion in fantasy sports play, with many operating from or based in North Carolina. The full fantasy sports ecosystem is now a $20 billion a year industry, and it’s growing fast. It’s why so much venture capital is pouring into the sector, creating jobs and building new businesses.

There is a real opportunity for North Carolina to take action and protect an emerging industry with the potential to employee many residents of our great state. FantasyDraft is a perfect example of this opportunity, which is why we support HB 279 and the common-sense regulations it will establish. Here’s hoping the legislature recognizes this and creates the certainty our industry needs by passing a law to protect fantasy sports.

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