The two giants of daily fantasy sports, DraftKings and FanDuel, plan to suspend contests on college sports indefinitely throughout the U.S. as part of a deal with the NCAA, ESPN reported Thursday. The voluntary decision from the daily fantasy sites will take effect after the NCAA men's basketball tournament, which concludes with Monday's championship game.
"We appreciate and commend DraftKings and FanDuel’s action to stop offering contests involving college, high school and youth sports. This action culminates months of hard work between all parties to reach a place that is good for amateur sports and most importantly, the young people who participate. We will work diligently with our member schools over the coming year to ensure such amateur sports 'carve-outs' are included in pending states' legislation," NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a statement.
DraftKings, FanDuel suspending college sports contests indefinitely in all states in agreement with NCAA: https://t.co/3qJEXTnXOl
— David Payne Purdum (@DavidPurdum) March 31, 2016
March Madness is the last major college sporting event for daily fantasy ahead of the fall football season. A FanDuel representative told ESPN the decision came after months of conversations with the NCAA, member institutions and legislatures and that "it is clear that this is an issue that matters to a variety of constituencies and we feel that the best path forward is to suspend offering these contests pending resolution on the issue within state legislatures."
DraftKings issued to ESPN a similar statement that said it would work with the NCAA to create a carve-out for collegiate sports with "nearly 30 states" working on regulations for daily fantasy sports. The suspension of NCAA contests won't necessarily mean major losses for the two daily fantasy sites that control about 90 percent of the market. College sports nets FanDuel just 3 percent of its revenue, and DraftKings pulls in 10 to 20 times more through NFL football than college football.
Following an initial controversy that began last October when a DraftKings employee unintentionally leaked confidential data the same week he won $350,000 playing a contest on FanDuel, dozens of states moved to introduce legislation to regulate daily fantasy sports. Daily fantasy sites have begun pulling out of states as regulatory legislation remains up in the air, with both sites dropping out of New York amid a legal battle with the state's attorney general. Five states are considering bills that would prohibit daily fantasy contests on college sports, while Indiana and Massachusetts have banned daily fantasy contests on amateur sports in new regulations.
"The future of fantasy sports will be defined in those state governments, where leaders are hearing a resounding call from their constituents who want to continue to play the games they love," the FanDuel representative told ESPN.
The NCAA has been critical of daily fantasy and had warned of consequences in September for any student-athlete who participated in the games. The organization warned that under their definition anything with an entry fee, which is a part of daily fantasy, constituted a form of sports wagering.
Neither FanDuel nor DraftKings have offered high school or youth sports contests.