An attorney for a daily fantasy sports operator that would be severely affected by proposed rules changes in Colorado criticized those plans during a hearing Monday morning, arguing those regulations would make the state “one of the most restrictive” in terms of what can be offered.
The Colorado Division of Gaming, which also oversees Colorado sports betting, held the hearing to receive stakeholder comments on what it describes on its website as “extensive changes” to its rules for fantasy contest operators. In short, Colorado regulators seek to ban operators from offering single-player games where contestants play against the operator in a format critics say is just sports betting. Among the operators most affected by those changes, if they take effect, would be PrizePicks. The Georgia-based company runs a pick ‘em game where contestants select two or more athletes and decide whether they will go over or stay under a certain statistical threshold.
Josh Kirchner, the lawyer representing PrizePicks, told state officials their proposed changes were going against what was written in the Colorado law and could be overturned if challenged in the courts.
“I would lament candidly this division — going from one of the most progressive in the nation in terms of what it allowed and recognized as fantasy sports to one of the most restrictive regimes in the nation — has now codified a version of fantasy sports that seems to stop recognition at and around 2016 and intimates that there have been no newer versions of this game, there are no newer contests that fans seem to enjoy since that time,” Kirchner said.
Colorado Not Only State Considering Changes
Colorado is the most recent state to take up the fantasy sports debate, following the likes of New York and Michigan, which have also prohibited pick ‘em style games. Those games, critics say, allow fantasy operators to offer a form of competition to Colorado betting apps without being legally licensed for sports betting.
Officials in other states have also taken up the debate, including North Carolina. Regulators there included similar language in their initial draft sports betting rules currently under review. In addition, states like Florida, Maine and Wyoming have issued cease-and-desist letters to some operators.
Those actions come as companies like FanDuel and DraftKings have called on states to restrict games they claim are no different than parlays offered by sports betting operators. FanDuel Colorado, like DraftKings, is licensed for legal sports betting in the state. Andrew Winchell, FanDuel’s director of regulatory affairs, reiterated the company’s stance Monday, arguing fantasy contests should only be among contestants and not one contestant against the operator.
Draft Rules Already Revised Twice
Colorado regulators twice revised the proposed rules last week to make clearer the prohibitions against the single-player games and contests involving proposition-style over-under selections. The most recent changes were made Friday, a day after the initial revisions.
The current draft rules are available for review at the Division of Gaming’s fantasy sports website, sbg.colorado.gov/fantasy-contests-rulemaking-hearing-of-october-30-2023. In addition, the state will continue to take public comments on the proposed changes through 5 p.m. MT on Friday. Those comments can be sent to [email protected].
After reviewing the public comments, the next step would be for the division to formally adopt the rules. According to state law, that must happen within 180 days of the last hearing. There are no additional hearings currently scheduled at this time. If that happens, the rules would go before the Attorney General for their review and then be filed to the state for enactment.