On August 3, 2016, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill legalizing fantasy sports gambling. The law declared fantasy sports to be games of skill, not games of chance; this language allowed the Legislature and the Governor to sidestep language in the New York State Constitution that bans fantasy sports gambling.
New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms opposed the fantasy sports gambling law because it expanded state-sanctioned gambling and because it “circumvented the State Constitution in an attempt to legitimize an otherwise illegal gambling operation.” In October 2016, a lawsuit was filed to challenge the constitutionality of the new law. Two years later, a trial court judge ruled that the law did, in fact, violate the New York State Constitution. An appeal followed.
Last week, the trial court’s ruling was upheld in a 4-1 decision. A panel of the Appellate Division, Third Department held that the fantasy sports gambling law violated the State Constitution. According to NBC New York, the appeals court struck down the portion of the law that defined fantasy sports gambling as a game of skill.
New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms is pleased that two courts have agreed with what we have said for several years: That New York’s fantasy sports law is unconstitutional. However, the story isn’t over. The case will likely be appealed to the New York Court of Appeals, New York’s highest state court; that court’s interpretation of the New York State Constitution will be final.