New Jersey to offer fantasy sports games at casinos

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Next month, Atlantic City casino patrons could begin to get the chance to play fantasy sports for prizes.

Beginning April 22, New Jersey will allow Atlantic City casinos to conduct fantasy sports contests. In short, you will be able to put together a fantasy team and play for casino winnings.

Participants in the fantasy games, according to the proposed regulations crafted by the state’s Division of Gaming Enforcement, will “(compete) against other against other patrons or a target score for a predetermined prize.”

“The casinos’ vast customer base and the ability to have contest winners utilize the casino cage to accept entry fees for fantasy sports tournaments and pay out winnings resulting from those tournaments provides an exciting opportunity to bring fantasy sports tournaments to Atlantic City,” said David Rebuck, the division’s director. “We see this as an added amenity and beneficial to the casinos and their customers.”

With New Jersey’s bid to offer sports betting suffering a big setback recently in federal court (the state is appealing), a move into the fantasy games realm for Atlantic City is rather intriguing.

One issue to watch is whether the state draws any sort of legal challenge to these plans.

Generally speaking, fantasy sports are viewed more kindly by the law than sports betting, with the federal Internet Gambling Prohibition and Enforcement Act of 2006 drawing a legal distinction between wagering on a game and participating in fantasy sports. A reading of the 2006 betting law and New Jersey’s proposed regulations shows some clear similarities – which is likely no accident. Also, the proposed regulations for the fantasy games make it clear that the games are not considered to be gambling in the division of gaming enforcement’s eyes.

Overall, professional sports leagues seem to view fantasy sports in a favorable light. The NFL, in fact, offers its own fantasy football game. On NFL.com, one of the first words to the right of the NFL shield is “FANTASY” in block letters.