An abundance of radio and television ads on Boston’s airwaves from Boston-based DraftKings, that has received investments from Fox Sports, MLB, the NHL and Major League Soccer, may have precipitated a review by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey questioning whether the fantasy sports site can legally operate within the state.
Massachusetts can now be added to the growing list of states that are reviewing the legality of fantasy sports which has become a multi-billion dollar industry. According to boston.com, while Healey is a proponent of gambling regulations and is opposed to gambling expansion in the state, the review of DraftKings was not initiated by her and on Monday Healey said, “DraftKings actually came to our office and wanted to reach out and talk to us about a new industry, so we heard them out,” and that, “We’re hearing them out on it, and as I said, we’re just looking to learn more.”
Healey’s statement comes just days after New Jersey Congressman Frank Pallone’s renewed efforts to reexamine the issue and sent a letter to the Committee on Energy and Commerce requesting that a hearing be held to discuss online sports betting and gambling differs from fantasy sports websites.
The start of the 2015 NFL season has been witness to an inundation of radio and television ads for DraftKings and FanDuel fantasy football leagues and daily’s (DFS) promising big payouts to winners. They are everywhere, especially on game days during live broadcasts of professional matchups. Spending a combined estimate of $31 million on ads for the NFL season’s first week alone, lawmakers around the country are taking notice.
The 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act restricts betting on professional and college sports games to all but four states, but a carve-out in the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 that specifically excludes fantasy sports meeting certain requirements renders fantasy sports games legal because they rely largely on player knowledge and skill in choosing a fantasy team, but DFS such as the ones offered by DraftKings and FanDuel, are said to rely more on luck than skill due to their short duration.
As of this month, the Fantasy Sports Trade Association estimates that 56.8 million people in the U.S. and Canada have participated in fantasy sports. In 2013 there were an estimated 33.5 million people playing in the United States, so it’s not difficult to see why the industry is destined for scrutiny.