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Approval of Fantasy Sports games may lead to more gambling addictions

Buffalo, NY — As the New York State Gaming Commission considers applications filed by fantasy sports companies, opponents of the games are looking at having legislation permitting this new outlet for gambling repealed.  Organizations such as Stop Predatory Gambling, the Seneca Nation of Indians and casino companies are against the bill, for differing reasons.

“Other sources of gambling oppose the bill mainly because of exclusivity agreements.  Stop Predatory Gambling opposes any expansion of gambling that preys on those who can least afford to risk their money in this way,” said Courtney L. Quinn, an attorney who handles consumer bankruptcy cases for the law offices of Jeffrey Freedman Attorneys, PLLC.  “In our experience, any form of gambling can become an addiction, which almost always leads to bankruptcy court.”

One concern with fantasy sports games is that since they are available on every smart phone and computer, they become an insidious part of the gambler’s life.  Les Bernal, national director of Stop Predatory Gambling, said: “. . . now what state government is trying to do is force predatory gambling into every home and smart phone in the state as a result of a push by very powerful gambling interests.”

The bill’s sponsors circumvented state law that would have required them to go through a time-consuming constitutional amendment to legalize fantasy sports gambling by declaring the practice to be “games of skill” instead of “games of chance,” which are illegal.

“The legislature bowed to the pressure of large fantasy sports interests,” Quinn said.  “According to a Siena College poll done in May, 45 percent of New Yorkers oppose daily fantasy sports — this is clearly not what the residents of New York State want.”

Fantasy sports charge upfront fees to play, and market that there are large payouts for those who play online.  There are hundreds thousands of fantasy sports players eager to be able to participate in these games before the National Football League season begins.

“In fact, just as with other forms of gambling, the game is rigged for the ‘house’ to win,” Quinn said. “This is not a game of skill and the fact that it is so easily accessible online will draw in a whole new segment of gamblers.  When income goes to pay gambling debts, basics such as food and housing go by the wayside and families suffer.

“Adding a new form of gambling to those that already exist, particularly one that is so easy to access, is not a positive step for our state.”