- Associated Press - Friday, October 30, 2015

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Nevada Sen. Harry Reid is calling daily fantasy sports sites “unregulated, illegal gambling” and says in a statement that self-regulation the industry desires won’t be enough.

Reid was responding Friday to an open letter released a day earlier from FanDuel CEO Nigel Eccles.

Eccles, in a letter addressed to FanDuel’s players and posted on its site, said the industry dominated by his company and DraftKings needed, “strong, common sense, enforceable” regulations to protect consumers noting what he described as sensible state legislation that’s already been proposed. Eccles didn’t name the specific state legislation he supported but said some proposals include age and location verification requirements, safeguards against insider company information being used in contests and third-party audits.

The sites allow players to pay a couple quarters to thousands of dollars to pick their ideal fantasy lineup in a particular sport for a given day of games and the player whose athletes earn the most points wins, in some cases millions of dollars.

“These are steps I have always advocated for - and now is the time to memorialize them in law for FanDuel and the entire industry,” he wrote. The letter notes, though, that “some lawmakers are seeking to prohibit your right to play fantasy sports as you know it.”

The letter doesn’t name Nevada, but gambling regulators there recently determined the sites require the same license a casino or sports book needs to do business in the state and until then, they couldn’t offer their sites to Nevada residents. Other states including Illinois, California and Massachusetts are also already looking at the industry.

The daily fantasy sports industry has denied any resemblance to gambling citing a fantasy sports exemption in a 2006 federal law that banned online gambling.

Reid says he’s glad Eccles agrees the sites need regulation but said it would only work if enforced, referencing the allegations of insider betting and the ability for young people to access the sites and gamble thousands of dollars. Players on the sites must confirm they are at least 18 or 19 years old, depending on the state where they’re playing.

Until recently, the sites allowed their employees to play on competing daily fantasy sites, but allegations that one employee may have had access to helpful company information to win on a competing site, led DraftKings and FanDuel to change their policies.

“Without strong oversight, there is nothing stopping these terrible things from happening and we will continue to see more corruption from this unregulated, illegal gambling,” Reid said in his statement.

The Democratic minority leader urges state and federal officials to examine the industry and regulate, “what is essentially gambling by another name.”

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