Maryland lawmakers have failed to deal with several daily fantasy sports bills before them despite an appeal from the state Attorney General earlier this year for clarity on the legal status of the popular vertical (see previous reports).
This week the state Senate president, Thomas V. Mike Miller, turned the tables on AG Brian Frosh, calling on him resolve the issue by filing a legal challenge to daily fantasy sports operators so that the judiciary can deal with the matter.
“The attorney general’s going to have to file suit and take it to court,” Miller said.
In response to press queries, the AG’s office stonewalled, commenting:
“We can’t comment on pending investigations or potential legal filings.”
The Maryland General Assembly adjourned this week without taking final action on any of several bills regarding daily fantasy competitions, a booming, multibillion-dollar industry that claims hundreds of thousands of Maryland players.
In a January 15 advisory opinion, Frosh’s office said the games may not be legal under a 2012 state statute. The games have changed and expanded so substantially since the legislature authorised fantasy sports play that the law needs legislative review, the AG declared.
Among the bills not finalised by the lawmakers was one from the Senate president proposing that Maryland voters be asked to decide on DFS in the November election, and another by Sen. Douglas J.J. Peters seeking the outright banning of the activity.
House Speaker Michael Busch said more information about possible new fantasy sport regulations is required….and the bills remained unpassed.
“You have to determine how you want to manage it — whether you want to run it through the lottery commission, whether you want to run it back through the existing casinos, whether you have to send it to referendum or not,” Busch said Tuesday. “There’s a lot of unanswered questions that I think can be resolved in the interim between now and next year’s legislative session.”
Emphasising that the buck was being passed to the AG, Delegate Eric Luedtke, co-chair of the Joint Gaming Committee, said he personally favoured DFS if tighter consumer-protective regulation was imposed, commenting:
“At this point the ball is in the attorney general’s court. I respect the attorney general a lot. I happen to think it’s legal, but ultimately its legality will be decided by the attorney general and the courts.”
The judicial solution appears to be supported by market leaders FanDuel and DraftKings, who expressed approval for a judicial process and pledged their cooperation.
“There was an effort to treat fantasy sports like casino gambling and possibly deny Maryland the right to play fantasy sports. Fortunately, that effort has now been defeated,” FanDuel’s statement on Tuesday said.
Griffin Finan, DraftKing’s public affairs director, said: “We are pleased that the House of Delegates rejected legislation that could have ended fantasy sports in Maryland.”