There is a strong push by the American Gaming Association (AGA), a trade group representing casinos and others in the gaming industry, to get state policymakers and officials to make these companies legal gambling businesses.
Starting with the 2015 NFL TV football season, DraftKings and FanDuel -- sports fantasy games sites where consumers win and lose money -- ramped up their on-air TV advertising efforts, spending millions.
For the last three months of 2015, DraftKings and FanDuel spent heavily on TV media schedules, virtually all on sports TV programming. FanDuel spent $131.2 million in national TV, while DraftKings spent $93.9 million, according to iSpot.tv.
But a growing number of state attorney generals deemed those companies illegal gambling businesses -- which essentially forced both DraftKings and FanDuel off the air, especially with national TV networks. In January 2016, DraftKings and ESPN’s parent, Walt Disney, dissolved their big $500 million deal.
Sports gambling amounts to $80 billion to $100 billion a year, according to estimates.
Currently, 13 states allow sport fantasy leagues to operate. Five states have historically banned the leagues, and nine states have recently ruled they are illegal gambling businesses. Twenty states have pending legislation that would largely permit fantasy sports.
In June, DraftKings and FanDuel announced a merger of the two operations. The Federal Trade Commission said it would look to block the deal.
There are lingering business considerations. With regard to the leagues, MLB and the NBA hold a financial stake in fantasy sports companies FanDuel and DraftKings -- and 28 NFL teams have sponsorships with fantasy sports companies.
Should more states make those operations legal -- which may amount to 70% or more of U.S. TV viewers -- the betting is that those leagues will be back on the air -- perhaps by the fall, when the big NFL programming starts up.