Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Fantasy Sports Companies Defend Industry

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Fantasy Sports Companies Defend Industry

Article excerpt

BOSTON - Daily fantasy sports companies say their industry remains viable despite a rocky start to 2016. The industry's top companies, DraftKings and FanDuel, are on the defensive after taking hits to their businesses in recent weeks as scrutiny by state policymakers across the country continues to intensify.

This week, it was disclosed that ESPN and DraftKings ended an exclusive advertising deal and FanDuel confirmed Wednesday it had laid off 55 workers in its Orlando, Florida, office.

ESPN and DraftKings declined to comment on the end of their partnership, which was announced last June and made DraftKings the network's official daily fantasy sports offering. But DraftKings spokeswoman Sabrina Macias says the company isn't retrenching.

"Our business position is strong and we have no intention to scale back any operations, she said, pointing to the company's launch in the United Kingdom last week. "We're continuing to innovate and learn.

FanDuel, meanwhile, said the layoffs are concentrated in its research and development division, which is being shuttered. The job cuts do not impact the rest of the Florida office, which includes an expanding customer service operation, the company said.

FanDuel CEO Nigel Eccles, in a brief call with The Associated Press, said the company, which has over 400 employees, is focused on making progress on the legislative front.

"What you're seeing is an industry that's very quickly going from an unregulated state to a regulated state, he said. "Whenever you have that, there's going to be turmoil.

Macias, of DraftKings, which has more than 350 workers, also downplayed the recent developments, highlighting instead the industry's state-by-state efforts to secure legislation that would keep its games legal but regulated.

"A couple of setbacks here and there do not necessarily reflect the larger picture, she said. "There's progress both on the legislative front and from the consumer protection perspective.

Fantasy sports sites say their contests aren't gambling because a player's skill level is more of a factor than chance in determining success, but some states have declared them gambling games and either banned them outright or required licenses. …

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