The Fantasy Sports Trade Association (FSTA) will conduct its 2016 Summer Conference in the DFS battleground state of New York, June 13-14 at the Crowne Plaza Times Square in New York City. Founded in 1998, the Chicago, Illinois-based FSTA aims to represent and protect the interests of its member fantasy sports operators, and particularly in the past year, has helped spearhead and support lobbying efforts for legislation across the country with respect to the industry.
The FSTA held its first conference in 1999, and has been conducting bi-annual events since 2007. Recently, the myriad legal issues and corresponding legislative efforts pertaining to the industry have naturally been at the forefront of many discussions.
Somewhat ironically, the New York City location of the Summer Conference makes it the second consecutive FSTA event that will take place in a currently contested state for DFS. The January 2016 Winter Conference unfolded in Dallas, Texas, and state Attorney General Ken Paxton’s legal opinion that daily fantasy sites ran afoul of Texas law curiously coincided with the opening day of that gathering.
Prominent Sponsors, Speakers and Attendees
The FSTA Summer Conference boasts several major players in the fantasy sports industry, such as FantasyAlarm, DraftKings, Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio and RealTime Fantasy Sports, as sponsors on some level. Meanwhile, Vela Wood, a Texas-based law firm with practice areas that include corporate law, startups and small business, will sponsor the Conference’s Elevator Pitch contest, designed for upstart fantasy sports business to present their innovative ideas and business model to the industry leaders in attendance.
As customary, the Conference will feature multiple prominent speakers from within the industry, including past FSTA president Greg Ambrosius, General Manager of Consumer Fantasy Games and STATS LLC; Paul Charchian, current FSTA president and founder of LeagueSafe; Peter Schoenke, president and co-founder of industry content site Rotowire; and Gabe Hunterton, CEO of ITEAM Network, designers and developers of private label daily fantasy sports software.
The attendee list for the Conference as currently displayed on the event’s official website is a veritable Who’s Who of the fantasy industry as well. Among the expected attendees are FanDuel and DraftKings CEOs Nigel Eccles and Jason Robins, along with a host of representatives from leading fantasy industry sites such as RotoGrinders, ESPN, USA Today Sports, Yahoo Sports and Rotowire.
Diverse Agenda on Tap
The 2016 FSTA Summer Conference will kick off with a Welcome Reception and Information Session on Monday, June 13. The FSTA will also conduct their Experts’ League Fantasy Football draft that same evening, which will be broadcast live on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio.
The event will take on a more structured approach on Tuesday, June 14, beginning with a session designed to delve into the current legal concerns that surround the industry. Walking the Line: Between Innovation and Regulation will attempt to provide fantasy sports professionals and enthusiasts with a unique perspective on how regulators currently view daily and season-long fantasy sports. The session will feature a speaker aptly qualified to elaborate on that all-important topic in Robert A. Moncrief Jr., the Deputy Attorney General for the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement.
Additionally, the following panels will focus on the areas of current industry trends in product consumption and spending, the ins and outs of building a fruitful business-to-business partnership within the industry, and effective approaches to building and maintaining customer relationships:
- The Wide World of Fantasy Sports: Examining Trends in Participation, Spending, and Mobile
- Built to Last – The Anatomy of a Great Partnership
- Holistic Customer Experiences Require Fundamental Change
A series of Town Hall meetings designed to address a number of topics pertaining to the industry, as well as multiple networking breaks, will also unfold throughout the latter half of the day. In the evening, conference attendees will have a chance for some after-hours relaxation by attending a Mets-Pirates game at Citi Field at 7:10pm. The $100 game ticket will also include an Open Bar and dinner at the stadium’s Bullpen Plaza.
A Brighter Industry Landscape than During Previous Conference
The 2016 FSTA Summer Conference takes place in the middle of a landmark year for the industry, but will be held under a distinctly more optimistic environment than the Winter event that took place just five months prior. Since the January meeting, three states–Virginia, Indiana and Tennesee—have passed specific legislation expressly legalizing and regulating fantasy sports, with a fourth, Mississippi, all but certain to have joined them by the conference’s start date.
Furthermore, Minnesota and Colorado, which have both seen legislative efforts move in very positive directions in recent weeks, could also be at the precipice of or could have conceivably even passed regulations by the onset of the event.
Interestingly, the Summer Conference’s host state, considered crucial to the industry’s well-being and allegedly set to consider a bill that would regulate fantasy contests, would be wrapping up its 2016 legislative session just three days after the conference’s conclusion.