By Michael Erman
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Entries at daily fantasy sports site FanDuel's NFL contests have fallen sharply since New York's attorney general declared the games to be illegal gambling in the state and the company stopped taking money from New Yorkers.
FanDuel received $23.6 million in entries overall for its National Football League contests over the weekend, down 17 percent from two weeks earlier, according to data from daily fantasy sports industry tracker Super Lobby. Professional football is the most popular sport for daily fantasy contests.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has asked a court to shutter FanDuel and top competitor DraftKings in the state, saying that daily fantasy sports gaming "is nothing more than a rebranding of sports betting."
The companies will argue in a New York court on Wednesday that they should be allowed to continue operating.
FanDuel stopped taking new deposits from New Yorkers two weeks ago and then blocked users in the state from playing in the contests last week.
DraftKings has continued taking money in the state.
The company's NFL guaranteed prize pool contests - the only DraftKings contests that Super Lobby tracks - have taken a more modest hit over the past two weeks. Over the past week, those contests had total entry fees of $20.4 million, down 3.3 percent over the two-week period.
FanDuel and DraftKings were not immediately available for comment.
Modern fantasy sports started in 1980 and surged in popularity online. Participants typically create teams that span an entire season in professional sports, including American football, baseball, basketball and hockey.
Daily fantasy sports, a turbocharged version of the season-long game, have developed over the past decade. Players draft teams in games played in just one evening or over a weekend.
The companies may have painted targets on their backs with aggressive advertising at the start of the National Football League season that promised large winnings. FanDuel has said it planned to pay out $2 billion in cash prizes this year.
(Reporting by Michael Erman; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)