Daily fantasy sports sites FanDuel and DraftKings have halted games involving popular and lucrative university sports, according to documents obtained Thursday by AFP.
The voluntary decision is part of an agreement with the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the powerful governing body of top-flight university sports, which generate billions of dollars in revenue each year even as the athletes are considered student amateurs.
The companies, confirming a report on sports news channel ESPN, said they would stop carrying fantasy games related to NCAA sports after the conclusion of the “March Madness” basketball tournament, which culminates this weekend with the “Final Four” semi-finals and Monday’s national championship game.
“We appreciate and commend DraftKings and FanDuel’s action to stop offering contests involving college, high school and youth sports,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said in a statement.
“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.”
Emmert said the NCAA would continue to work to ensure that legislation governing the fantasy sites in different states would include “carve outs” preventing amateur sports from being involved.
Thursday’s decision comes as the daily fantasy sports industry, a multi-billion-dollar business that exploded across the country last year, is fighting legal battles in several states where authorities say it is offering unlicensed gambling and in some cases defrauding customers.
On March 21 the industry giants DraftKings and FanDuel said they would halt their paid daily contests in the state of New York, part of a settlement with the state’s attorney general covering some but not all of the state’s charges against them.
Both companies have also been challenged in Nevada, home to the gaming capital of Las Vegas, and Illinois.
Both firms allow players to create virtual teams using the statistics of real athletes and compete with other such teams. They can offer huge prizes for winners of the online competitions.
However, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman moved to shut them down and have them return money earned in the state.