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Fantasy sports CEOs to speak before Nevada gaming panel

The top executives of the nation’s two largest daily fantasy sports websites are expected to address the state’s Gaming Policy Committee Monday in Las Vegas.

Jason Robins, CEO of DraftKings, and Nigel Eccles, CEO of FanDuel, are part of the lineup of gaming regulators, casino industry officials, analysts and attorneys, who will take part in the daylong discussion at Las Vegas City Hall.

DraftKings and FanDuel control an estimated 90 percent of the daily fantasy sports market.

In a statement, Gov. Brian Sandoval said meeting was to “ensure Nevada is proactively pursuing policies that help maintain our state’s status as the international epicenter for gaming entertainment, regulation, and innovation.”

Daily fantasy sports is the key agenda topic for the meeting.

The activity was a booming enterprise until October, when Nevada gaming regulators — based on a state Attorney General’s opinion — said it constituted sports wagering under Nevada law.

The Gaming Control Board said daily fantasy sports websites, such as DraftKings and FanDuel, can apply for a Nevada gaming license to operate a sports pool. The Control Board issued a “cease and desist” order that banned the websites from accepting entries from Nevada-based customers.

The decision went against the arguments made by daily fantasy sports companies that they are games of skill and not gambling. Robins addressed that topic last fall during a roundtable discussion at the Global Gaming Expo.

The daily fantasy sports sites also said they were not bound by the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which prohibits financial transactions associated with online wagering.

Lawmakers in more than two dozen states are considering daily fantasy sports legislation that would either legalize and regulate the activity, ban it outright, or do nothing.

“This first meeting will set the stage for a high-quality discussion about the rich history of Nevada’s most iconic industry and will call attention to the challenges and opportunities the industry faces,” Sandoval said.

American Gaming Association CEO Geoff Freeman, who is also scheduled to address the Policy Committee, said daily fantasy sports was a “compelling upstart business caught in a gray legal area between state and federal laws.”

He said the casino industry is also caught in the gray area because it is unclear if they can do business with daily fantasy sports companies.

“The challenge for regulators, policymakers and the casino industry is to build an effective framework for bringing these new platforms into the fold without strangling the very qualities that make them innovative in the first place,” Freeman said.

By law, the governor chairs the Gaming Policy Committee, which includes members of the legislature, gaming regulators, gaming license holders, a tribal representative and members of the general public. Sandoval reconvened the committee in 2012 to provide recommendations on how Nevada can best regulate interactive gaming. Prior to Sandoval’s action in 2012, the full group had not met since the 1980s.

MGM Resorts International Chairman and CEO Jim Murren, Boyd Gaming Corp. CEO Keith Smith and Golden Entertainment CEO Blake Sartini are the gaming industry representatives on the committee.

Contact reporter Howard Stutz at hstutz@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3871. Find @howardstutz on Twitter

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