Citizens File Lawsuit to Challenge New York’s New Internet Gambling Law

New York citizens have filed a lawsuit with the New York State Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of the new internet gambling law recently passed by the state legislature. The law includes the legalization of daily fantasy sports (DFS) gambling.

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New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is already on record declaring that daily fantasy sports gambling violates the constitution and a large number of New York citizens share his concerns.

A May 2016 statewide poll by Siena College showed voters oppose allowing daily fantasy sports companies to operate in New York 45-37 percent.

The state’s constitution prohibits gambling, except those forms specifically granted exemptions, such as wagering on horse races, charitable contests, a limited number of commercial casinos and state-operated lottery.

“The plaintiffs seek to protect the public from predatory gambling consistent with the Constitution,” said Neil Murray of the firm O’Connell and Aronowitz. “They also intend to stop FanDuel, DraftKings and other internet gambling operators from exploiting the financially desperate and the addicted in New York.”

The lawsuit focuses on two key points.

The first is daily fantasy sports gambling is prohibited by the State Constitution and the Legislature cannot unilaterally amend the Constitution. Only the citizens of New York can do so in a statewide referendum after votes by two successively-elected State Legislatures.

The second point takes aim at how DFS has been misrepresented as a game of skill rather than chance. Many types of gambling have an element of skill such as blackjack, but skill and chance are not mutually exclusive. If chance is a material element of the transaction, then it is gambling.

New York supporters of Stop Predatory Gambling, a government reform group, helped bring the lawsuit.

“We believe in improving the lives of the people of New York,” said Les Bernal, SPG’s National Director. “Daily fantasy sports gambling is a huge rip-off for all citizens, regardless whether you gamble or not.”

Robb Smith, Executive Director of Interfaith Impact of New York State and a member of SPG’s New York network, endorsed the lawsuit to overturn the new internet gambling law.

“The Legislature legalized internet gambling in every home, every dorm room, every place of employment and on every smartphone in New York,” Smith said.

SPG raised the money to fund the litigation from individual supporters and citizen groups in New York. The organization does not accept any financial contributions from gambling interests.

 

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