The legality issue on daily fantasy sports continues to occupy the thoughts of US lawmakers at state level, judging by reports from the United States Friday.
In Maryland the state’s financial Comptroller has announced that an enquiry into the legality of DFS is to be conducted.
The announcement follows the submission of a report by state Attorney General lawyers who had been tasked by state Senate President Thomas V. Miller to consider and report on the continued legality of a 2012 law allowing traditional fantasy betting among groups of friends, and whether the measure should have gone on the ballot for state voters to give their views.
The 22-page report acknowledged the complexity of the questions raised but opined that the issue of daily fantasy sports betting should have been referred to the electorate for a vote. The report is also critical of the lack of clarity in the 2012 measure, questioning its statutory language and a legislative history that conflict in important aspects.
“Further complicating matters is the fact that daily fantasy sports have only emerged in the last few years and there are few judicial opinions – and none in Maryland – that address this new form of fantasy sports,” wrote Assistant Attorney General Kathryn Rowe and Adam Snyder, chief counsel of opinions and advice.
However, the report endorsed the legality of traditional fantasy sports under the 2012 act, which the AG’s office points out was largely tailored to apply to small social groups that play all season long, not the new DFS industry that regulators in other states have been grappling with in recent months.
In conclusion, the Maryland legal experts said they could not predict with certainty whether a Maryland court would determine whether either traditional fantasy betting or daily fantasy betting are games of chance for purposes of the law, but suggested that chance is clearly an element in fantasy sports.
The report recommends that Maryland lawmakers debate the issue in the current session and give it more clarity in state law.
The Attorney General’s office in the state of Vermont took a more decisive view, telling a state Senate committee Friday that online daily fantasy sports games are illegal in the state.
John Treadwell, chief of the criminal division at the state AG’s office, urged politicians not to pass a bill that would regulate the games and effectively legalise them.
“Our opinion is that daily fantasy sports fall within the coverage of Vermont’s gambling statutes,” Treadwell told members of the Senate Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs Committee.
“Our concern is what [the bill] does is it takes one variety of illegal, for-profit gambling and makes it legal without any consideration for why this particular one is being chosen and others are not,” Treadwell said.
Sen. Kevin Mullin, who supports the legalisation attempt, asked Treadwell why none of the estimated more than 100,000 Vermonters who play fantasy sports had been prosecuted, if the pastime was illegal as the AG’s office contended…Treadwell said that gambling enforcement had not been a priority for police and prosecutors in the state.
DFS market leaders DraftKings and FanDuel have been lobbying in Vermont for legalisation, contending that DFS is a game of skill rather than chance and is therefore not gambling.
But Treadwell insisted that an element of chance exists, and pointed to the conclusions reached by AGs in New York and Illinois supporting his view that DFS constitutes illegal gambling.
In Virginia things are looking more promising for daily fantasy sports, with media reports indicating that the Legislature leans toward regulation and licensing, and that DFS has a good chance of being legalised through one of two bills that have been introduced in the General Assembly, with the launch of a third measure imminent – all supporting legalisation.