Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban delivered an upbeat keynote address at the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Winter Conference on Wednesday, colorfully urging the industry to push forward through its current turmoil.
“What I’m up here to tell you, is when things seem to be going against you, that’s when the best shit is about to happen,” Cuban said. “When everyone is ganging up on you, that’s when the best shit is about to go down.
“Now is not only the time to fight back, but to step up.”
Considering the unfurling legal uncertainties for daily fantasy sports, a positive message from a high-profile public figure was welcomed.
The location of the FSTA conference itself encapsulates the story of an industry fighting for its life on multiple fronts.
Originally scheduled to be held in Las Vegas, plans shifted and a new home was found in Dallas after the Nevada Gaming Commission ruled that DFS was gambling and operators needed a license to offer contests in the state.
Then Tuesday, as conference attendees were arriving in the state from across the country, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a similar opinion, stating that he believed a court would find DFS to be illegal gambling according to state law.
Paxton’s opinion is distinct from those issued in New York—where DraftKings and FanDuel were threatened with criminal sanctions—and Illinois, where the companies were asked to leave. Both continue to operate in each state as the legal process unfolds, with trials expected in late spring/early summer.
Cuban said he’s been told the Texas Attorney General’s office will not pursue a lawsuit and instead leave the issue to be clarified by the state legislature. Two bills were introduced last year that would require DFS operators to be licensed in Texas, and more and more state legislatures are contemplating bills as 2016 sessions ramp up.
That state-by-state approach appears to be preferred by the FSTA. In his opening remarks at the conference Wednesday, FSTA president Paul Charchian said the industry was taking a “50-state initiative.”
“It’s going to be 50 small battles, not one big battle,” Charchian said.
That point was later reiterated by FSTA chair Peter Schoenke.
“Our expectation is that in the near future this [a DFS bill] isn’t going to be addressed on the federal level.” – Peter Schoenke
— Ben Fawkes (@BFawkesESPN) January 20, 2016
Cuban, for one, appears undaunted. He’s invested in a pair of fantasy-related sites/services, and said Wednesday he remains bullish on the industry’s future.
“Now is the best time to invest (in fantasy sports,)” he said.