When it comes to Daily Fantasy Sports venues, Arizona is looking outside

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Arizona residents cannot participate in Daily Fantasy Sports sites, including FanDuel and DraftKings. It is considered a form of gambling, which the state prohibits. (Photo by Rebecca Dantuono / Cronkite News)

PHOENIX – The opportunity to take on the role of virtual GM is enticing for sports fans, especially when it comes to money.

In Arizona, these opportunities are not available.

Participation in Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) sites like FanDuel or DraftKings is illegal in Arizona, and experts aren’t predicting a change anytime soon, despite the best efforts of many.

Under Arizona state law, participation in DFS is considered a form of gambling, which the state prohibits. The only legal gambling in the state is limited to tribal casinos, horse and dog racing, and the state lottery.

But state lawmakers don’t stop the state from changing laws, said Stacie Stern, executive vice president of the Fantasy Trade Sports Association (FTSA). This is the compact.

Stern, also director of government affairs for FanDuel, says the real question is whether fantasy sports are allowed based on the current agreement, also known as the pact, that Arizona has with the tribes.

“This question in Arizona is about how we categorize fantastic sports,” Stern said. “It’s not a game and it is not a game in our mind. We don’t want to upset the pact, so legislatures are very reluctant to do anything to harm the pact and the money the state receives from the tribes on the basis of those pacts.

In February 2016, Arizona attempted to exclude fantasy sports from the gambling law, which would allow residents to access sites such as FanDuel or DraftKings for their online fantasy gaming projects.

Senate Bill 1515 was introduced, with the goal of removing DFS from Arizona’s definition of gambling. The bill did not last long, quickly dying in the Senate before the end of the month.

Despite these DFS restrictions, Arizona residents are still able to find a way to add excitement to the game by using cash.

Longtime sports fan Brett Pinar, 21, says he uses a Las Vegas-based online sports betting site called Bovada.

“A lot of my friends and I are doing it together,” Pinar said. “We collaborate on the types of betting we make with all the different sports. “

Pinar, who is on the verge of graduating from the State of Arizona with a business degree in sports and media, said that if participation in DFS was legal it would be “absolutely” in the interest of the government. part.

“It’s such a shame that this stuff isn’t legal here,” Pinar said. “I would be everywhere if that was the case. “

Pinar has been using Bovada for a year and says placing money on teams he wouldn’t normally watch has caused him to pay a bit more attention.

“I like the sport like a lot of people and you are certainly more interested in watching the games because they are more at stake if you bet money on them,” Pinar said.

With the rapid increase in sports coverage on social media, more fans are following the games on Twitter or televising the highlights on TV later in the night, rather than staying to watch the entire game. live.

But with the rise of fantasy sports, live sports viewers on television are fighting this trend.

According to the FSTA, there are 59.3 million participants in fantasy sports in the United States and Canada.

This is the highest number recorded to date.
Sixty-four percent of DFS attendees said they watched more sports live because of the fantasy, reports the FTSA.

“I have always been a huge sports fan and have always watched sports,” Pinar said. “But I really think my involvement in betting has definitely increased my audience in the sport.”

ASU student-athlete Mason Ford says he has friends who are big participants in fantasy sports. “If (the game) goes on they’ll make sure they watch it, make sure you stay on top of things,” Ford said.

Ford, also from Arizona, believes the law should be overturned if it could have a positive effect on the state, but that won’t apply to him anyway. At least not before graduation.

“It doesn’t really affect me anyway,” said Ford, who is a senior on the Arizona State track team.

As a student-athlete, Ford, also chairman of the ASU Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, is prohibited from participating in fantastic sports whether or not Arizona legalizes it.

“My only thing is if other states do it, and it’s beneficial to the state in some way or another, whether there’s a tax on it or something like that, if it ‘beneficial that way, that’s fine with me,’ said Ford. “But if not, and they think that’s what’s needed, then that’s fine with me too.”

According to the NCAA website, “The NCAA opposes all forms of legal and illegal sports betting, which could undermine the integrity of athletic competitions and compromise the well-being of student-athletes and the inter-varsity community. athletics.

This eliminates all student-athletes across the country from participating in DFS, whether they are legal in the athlete’s state of residence or not.

“I understand the reasoning behind why they are put in place,” Ford said. “But I think if you don’t allow student athletes to bet on it, you probably shouldn’t be able to bet on college sports in general. If you really want to keep amateur status then you shouldn’t be able to market or make money with these fantastic sports, or brackets or anything like that.

The FTSA says fantasy sports are an estimated $ 7.22 billion industry.

The big sports leagues have teamed up with DFS operators because of the money involved. The NHL and MLB are in partnership with DraftKings, and the NHL is with FanDuel.

Professional leagues aren’t just interested in fantastic sports, but they support them because “they know it helps increase viewership and that’s what they’re looking for,” Stern said.

“Besides the people sitting in the seats at the games, the other side of what they’re looking for are eyeballs,” Stern said. “It’s really important for all leagues that fantastic sports are something that people can participate in.”

Arizona isn’t the only state to ban fantasy sports. Iowa, Montana, Washington, and Louisiana all have laws that consider DFS a form of illegal gambling.

Unlike Arizona, other states are advancing.

“Iowa and Louisiana are making great strides in updating their legislation, but they don’t have the same compact problems as Arizona,” Stern said. “Washington State, however, is more like Arizona and has the same compact problems and they haven’t made any progress on updating their laws.”

While it makes sense for states with rapidly growing fan numbers to want to change their laws, the process takes time. Until Arizona can figure out how to classify fantastic sports, no movement is made.

“It (DFS) definitely creates more socialization with the sport and I think it adds an extra element to it and makes it more exciting,” Pinar said. “I think inevitably it has to be legalized.”

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