Updated on 08/15/2016 12:16PM

DerbyWars, HorseTourneys bar New York residents from playing


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Racing’s two most prominent daily fantasy sites have shut off New York residents from winning cash in any of their contests, citing the recent approval of legislation in the state that contained language barring horse-racing fantasy contests despite explicitly authorizing the contests on nearly all other sports.

The companies, DerbyWars and HorseTourneys, posted notices on their websites recently alerting New York residents that they will no longer be able to deposit cash or receive cash awards for contests appearing on their sites. The legislation barring the contests was signed by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Aug. 4.

Mark Midland, the founder of DerbyWars, said the alert was posted as a direct result of the legislation, which was crafted to regulate daily fantasy-sports contests offered by sites like DraftKings and FanDuel, both of which operate companies valued in the billions of dollars. While those sites received explicit authorization to operate under the bill, language was inserted into the legislation barring the same activity on horse racing due to objections from New York’s offtrack betting companies, which were seeking a share of the racing companies’ revenue.

“We felt like it was important to take the conservative approach,” Midland said. “This is just another example where racing is not as politically active as it should be. We are hopeful that we may be able to work with the racing industry and seek a solution to this.”

HorseTourneys posted a more nuanced alert on its website than the one posted at DerbyWars, warning that New York residents would be “prohibited from winning real money, including travel reimbursements” for online handicapping contests that qualify for the National Handicapping Championship.

The language in the bill barring horse racing fantasy contests arose when state horse racing interests, including Standardbred horsemen and county-owned offtrack betting companies, could not come to an agreement laying out how the racing industry would receive a cut of the revenues from the business, according to officials representing the sides.

The legislation has also led to confusion over whether New York residents can participate in online handicapping tournaments, though most major handicapping-contest operators have continued to allow New York residents to participate. Daily Racing Form is one of the largest contest operators in the United States.

CLARIFICATION: A previous version of this article mischaracterized the role played by New York OTB companies in the bill barring racing-fantasy contests.