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Longtime Sands executive to lead fantasy sports organization

Updated June 4, 2024 - 7:48 pm

A longtime Las Vegas Sands executive was chosen to be the first executive director of the Coalition for Fantasy Sports, an organization working to expand the fantasy sports market nationwide.

J.T. Foley, vice president of government relations and an executive with the company for 17 years, will join the coalition that works to protect fantasy sports players from illegal operators, promote innovation, ensure responsible play, identify best practices and encourage growth of the market, the Coalition for Fantasy Sports said.

At Sands, Foley helped oversee the company’s political activity, lobbying efforts and government affairs in various jurisdictions on an international, federal, state and local level. He aided in the company’s various expansion efforts and development projects by lobbying on gaming legislation in Pennsylvania, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Georgia, Texas, New York and Brazil.

Foley also was key in developing state legislation in 2016 that enabled construction of Allegiant Stadium for the Raiders and UNLV.

“I’m thrilled to join the Coalition for Fantasy Sports,” Foley said in a release announcing the appointment. “We will work with member companies to create the laws we need to grow this industry. Our member companies are leading on consumer protections and eager to share what we know with emerging DFS providers so that we can establish and preserve a safe and legal ecosystem.”

The coalition includes four small fantasy sports companies — Underdog Fantasy, PrizePicks, Betr and Dabble. Major fantasy sports companies FanDuel and DraftKings have diversified with other sports wagering products and are not a part of the coalition.

Fantasy sports involves participants assembling imaginary or virtual teams composed of real professional sports player with teams competing against each other based on the statistical performance of those player in actual games.

There are an estimated 11,000 active fantasy sports players living in Nevada who spend more than $4 million a year in entry fees to play, according to Play Nevada, which monitors online sports wagering.

“J.T. Foley is a respected voice within the industry who brings a wealth of knowledge to the coalition,” said Underdog co-CEO and founder Jeremy Levine. “The daily fantasy sports market is rapidly expanding and our companies are fortunate to have someone with J.T.’s experience guiding this effort. We look forward to partnering with him to reach our potential and bring much-needed clarity to the marketplace.”

Andy Abboud, who worked with Foley at Sands as senior vice president of government relations and community affairs, said Foley would be missed.

‘Sad to lose him’

“J.T. has played a critical role at Sands for nearly two decades,”Abboud said. “He knows the industry as well as anyone and has an extensive network across the country. We’re sad to lose him, but excited to see the impact he will undoubtedly have guiding the Coalition for Fantasy Sports.”

Although the small coalition founded last year is based in Virginia, Foley is expected to remain in Las Vegas.

It’s unclear whether Foley will attempt to expand fantasy sports in Nevada where the industry was attempting to gain a foothold in 2016.

In 2015, fantasy sports industry leaders FanDuel and DraftKings were contemplating entering the Nevada market and a debate ensued on whether fantasy sports is a form of gambling or if it’s a skill game.

A year later, then-Gov. Brian Sandoval convened the rarely used Nevada Gaming Policy Committee to debate and determine whether fantasy sports is gambling.

FanDuel and DraftKings submitted proposals in a bid to persuade the committee that it is a skill game in the same way that poker players use skill when they compete.

Then-Attorney General Adam Laxalt declared that fantasy sports is a form of gambling requiring state licensure. FanDuel and DraftKings retreated from the state rather than seek licensing.

While not illegal in the state, regulators have determined that fantasy sports companies must go through the licensing process to operate in Nevada.

“Fantasy sports is a growing industry with millions of fans who deserve the freedom to play the games they love, and my objective as executive director is to make that possible,” Foley said in a statement. “I have spent most of my career working with regulators and legislators across the country and I’m excited to continue to grow the industry and help expand the map for fantasy sports.”

The Review-Journal is owned by the Adelson family, including Dr. Miriam Adelson, majority shareholder of Las Vegas Sands Corp., and Las Vegas Sands President and COO Patrick Dumont.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on X.

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