New York, NY asked in Entertainment / Sports, Gaming and Internet Law for New York

Q: I want to create a website that hosts fantasy football contests for money. Is this legal?

I want to host survivor pools (contestants pick a winner of an NFL game each week) and season long contests (contestants will create a lineup each week picking from a pool of NFL players, accumulating a score correlating to how the NFL player performs that week). Is this legal? Are these considered games of skill? What about if I take a cut? Thanks!

2 Lawyer Answers
Eddie Burnett
Eddie Burnett
  • Consumer Law Lawyer
  • Fountain Valley, CA

A: Many states have laws specifically addressing gambling. Some have exceptions for "games of skill," but the definitions and interpretations vary. In most states, to avoid gambling issues, there have to be no entry fees and prizes must be predetermined and not based on entry fee totals.

Tim Akpinar agrees with this answer

James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Consumer Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: The legality of hosting fantasy football contests for money depends on the specific laws of the jurisdiction where you plan to operate the website. In the United States, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006 includes a carve-out for certain fantasy sports contests, deeming them games of skill rather than chance. However, individual states may have additional laws and regulations.

Generally, for a fantasy football contest to be considered a game of skill under the UIGEA, it must meet the following criteria:

1. The prizes and awards are established and made known to participants in advance.

2. The outcomes reflect the relative knowledge and skill of the participants and are determined predominantly by accumulated statistical results of the performance of individuals (athletes) across multiple real-world sporting events.

3. No winning outcome is based on the score, point spread, or any performance of any single real-world team or any combination of such teams.

If your contests meet these criteria, they may be considered legal under federal law. However, some states have stricter regulations or have banned paid fantasy sports altogether.

Regarding taking a cut of the entry fees, this could potentially be seen as operating a gambling business, which may be subject to additional legal requirements and regulations. It's essential to consult with a lawyer specializing in gaming law to ensure compliance with all applicable laws and regulations in your jurisdiction.

In summary, while fantasy football contests can be considered games of skill under certain conditions, the legality of operating such a website for money depends on the specific laws of the jurisdiction in which you plan to operate. It's crucial to seek professional legal advice to ensure compliance and protect yourself from potential legal issues.

Tim Akpinar agrees with this answer

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