- Associated Press - Friday, June 3, 2016

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - New York lawmakers have begun advancing legislation to regulate daily fantasy sports, which would enable thousands of people to resume playing.

Committees in the state Senate and Assembly with jurisdiction over gambling this week separately advanced bills that detail proposed registration fees for commercial operators and prohibitions against players under 18 years old. They would also bar contests based on collegiate or high school sports or horse racing.

Differences between the bills would have to be reconciled and passed. The Legislature is scheduled to adjourn for the year in two weeks.

“Bearing in mind that interactive fantasy sports contests of any variety have the potential to produce unfair advantages for certain players, target minors and increase compulsive play, this bill seeks to regulate all forms of interactive fantasy sports - paid and free, and daily and season-long,” Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow wrote in his sponsor’s memo. The Mount Vernon Democrat chairs the Assembly Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering that approved his bill Wednesday.

Players compete by selecting teams of individual athletes and earn points based on their collective statistical performances. The games generally require fees to play. Game providers and winners get shares of the money.

The Senate bill, introduced by Chairman John Bonacic of that chamber’s Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee, would not apply to season-long fantasy sports contests where the entry fee is paid before the season starts. He would require operators with at least 5,000 New York customers to pay a one-time fee of $500,000 or 5 percent of their gross New York revenue in the previous year. Registration would be good for 10 years.

Bonacic’s committee approved his bill Thursday.

Pretlow proposed three-year registration fees up to $100,000 for operators with at least $200,000 in revenue. Both bills would authorize taxes of 15 percent of operators’ annual New York gross revenue.

Yahoo, which also offers fantasy sports, said Pretlow’s fee structure would hurt smaller operators. The company said “free” and season-long games put together by groups of friends shouldn’t be regulated the same as paid daily games.

The largest commercial operators, FanDuel and DraftKings, agreed in March to stop taking bets in New York as lawmakers considered legalizing the popular online contests. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sued to stop them, saying they offered illegal gambling, not games of skill as they maintained.

Under their agreement, if Albany lawmakers fail to pass legislation, a state appeals court will take up the case during its September term. In the meantime, the companies cannot take bets from users with New York IP addresses and must withdraw their New York clients’ balances within seven days of being asked to do so.

Both DraftKings and FanDuel said they had hundreds of thousands of customers in New York.

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