US DFS round-up: More state AG’s call DFS illegal, but regulation progress could be made

By David Cook
Recent developments have occurred this week with regards to daily fantasy sports (DFS) legislation in four US states. Here is a brief summary of the most recent updates.

Alabama

Attorney General (AG) Luther Strange has issued cease and desist orders to FanDuel and DraftKings following a ruling from his office that DFS is gambling.

The operators have been given a deadline of 1 May to pull operations from the state.

Strange judged that the contests can be termed as gambling, even if skill is involved.

He said: “In Alabama, an activity constitutes illegal gambling if a person stakes something of value on a contest of chance, even when skill is involved, in order to win a prize.

“There is, of course, a measure of skill involved in creating a fantasy roster. But in the end, contestants have no control over the performance of the players on their rosters. For example, a player could fall ill before a game, be injured in pre-game warm-ups, or miss a large portion of the game due to injury or equipment failure.”

Tennessee

It was a case of more of the same with Tennessee, with AG Herbert Slatery echoing Strange and also declaring DFS to be illegal, following a request to investigate the games made by the state’s House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh.

Slatery reasoned that “winning a fantasy sports contest is contingent to some degree on chance” and that DFS falls foul of state law.

A bill seeking to regulate DFS in the state passed through the Senate by a 29-1 vote in March, though a House committee has reportedly delayed action on the bill for a week, after being scheduled to hear the matter on Wednesday.

FanDuel said: “While we respectfully disagree with the opinion, the Attorney General expressly noted the legislature can make needed updates to antiquated state laws and ensure nearly one million Tennesseans can continue to enjoy all forms of fantasy sports.”

The latest two rulings mean that 10 US state AG’s have either sent cease and desist letters to FanDuel and DraftKings or have at least published negative opinions regarding DFS.

Colorado

A form of regulation could be in the pipeline, as a House committee is reportedly putting together a bill that would create a state Office of Fantasy Sports.

Crisanta Duran, majority leader of the Colorado House of Representatives and sponsor of the bill, said: “This is an effort to make sure that we have regulations in place that show Coloradans they have a fair shot to win in some of those games.”

Illinois

Lawmakers have postponed plans to legalise DFS as they continue to work towards creating a proposal.

State Representative Michael Zalewski has asked for the deadline to hold a hearing on a DFS bill to be extended, as Friday is the current deadline for bills to make it out of committees.

DFS has been made legal in some form in three states – Virginia, Indiana and Massachusetts.
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