In Massachusetts, the special state panel established last year in order to study the possibility of legalizing numerous forms online gambling has reportedly passed its final recommendations concerning daily fantasy sports.
According to a report from the MassLive news service citing a story from the State House News Service, yesterday saw the nine-member Special Commission on Online Gaming, Fantasy Sports Gaming and Daily Fantasy Sports narrowly recommend that daily fantasy sports remain legal in Massachusetts and be regulated and taxed under the oversight of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.
By a five-to-three vote, the panel also reportedly advocated a broad definition of online gaming that would encompass daily fantasy sports despite objections from some members that such a move could disrupt an industry that already employs hundreds of people in the eastern state.
MassLive reported that last year saw Massachusetts lawmakers ratify a measure that temporarily legalized daily fantasy sports under the scrutiny of the state’s attorney general, Maura Healey. However, this sanction is set to expire in July of 2018 and the Special Commission on Online Gaming, Fantasy Sports Gaming and Daily Fantasy Sports was subsequently tasked with formulating specific recommendations that could help legislators establish a more permanent regulatory framework.
In voting in favor of the recommendations, panel members Joseph Wagner from the Massachusetts House of Representatives and Massachusetts State Senator Eileen Donoghue reportedly declared that the move would lay out a path for daily fantasy sports to remain legal beyond next year. The Democrats purportedly explained that they would now be forwarding the group’s suggestions to both houses of the Massachusetts General Court and expected specific legislation to be written over the course of the next twelve months.
“You can expect legislation,” Donoghue reportedly told the State House News Service. “It’ll have to be this session but I don’t know what will happen with that legislation. I believe that the report recommends a path forward for online gaming that will bring both efficiency and, in a cautious way, an omnibus approach with a careful case-by-case analysis.”
However, the news service reported that not everyone on the panel was happy with the wide-reaching definition of online gambling as members Mark Cusack and James Kelcourse from the Massachusetts House of Representatives joined with Peter Schoenke, Chairman for the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, to vote against the recommendations.
“To go back now and throw uncertainty into an established marketplace when it is working in Massachusetts; I just feel that this report doesn’t appreciate how these daily fantasy sports companies are set up, what their profit margins are and how they’re funded, which is venture capitalist and investor funding and investors want certainty,” Cusack reportedly told the State House News Service. “We had that.”
In addition, Massachusetts Assistant Attorney General Dan Krockmalnic reportedly abstained from the Monday vote due to concerns that the agreed definition of online gambling could lead to a state-wide expansion of the activity.
“The [Massachusetts] Attorney General does not share a key conclusion of the report regarding the inevitability and advisability of the eventual expansion of online gaming in Massachusetts nor does she believe that consumers can be adequately protected if gaming opportunities proliferate on the Internet,” Krockmalnic reportedly told the State House News Service.
For its part, Boston-based daily fantasy sports operator DraftKings reportedly joined the critics in asking Republican Governor Charles Baker and senior members of the state’s legislature to reject the Special Commission on Online Gaming, Fantasy Sports Gaming and Daily Fantasy Sports’ recommendations.
“While this [Special Commission on Online Gaming, Fantasy Sports Gaming and Daily Fantasy Sports] report is merely a recommendation, it runs directly counter to the economic development law that overwhelmingly passed last year designed to promote the state’s innovation economy,” James Chisholm from DraftKings reportedly told the State House News Service. “The [Special Commission on Online Gaming, Fantasy Sports Gaming and Daily Fantasy Sports’] actions today, as we and our partners in the fantasy sports industry pointed out time and time again, could restrain our company’s ability to thrive and create jobs here in Massachusetts.”