According to a GamblingCompliance report on Tuesday, daily fantasy sports (DFS) are not legal in the state of Michigan.
On the heels of the introduction of a fantasy bill last week, the executive director of Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) Rick Kalm was quoted by Chris Krafcik, research director at GamblingCompliance, as stating it was his opinion that participating in fantasy sports for real money is “illegal under current Michigan law.” The bill introduced by Senator Curtis Hertel would amend Michigan’s penal code making fantasy sports a “game of skill,” thereby making it legal for the state’s residents to play. A Michigan lobbyist has been hired by the Fantasy Sports Trade Association in response to the news.
An exception in the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) made season long fantasy sports available to players from all states except five (Arizona, Washington, Montana, Iowa and Louisiana), leaving the decision of whether or not to permit real money fantasy sports up to each individual state. While DFS didn’t exist at that time, up to now Michigan players have been accepted by almost all DFS operators.
It is unknown whether news of the MGCB’s opinion will impact DFS operation in Michigan and if residents will still be permitted to play, as the determination is not made directly by the board. Whether or not either would be prosecuted would be decided by the state’s attorney general whose office has yet to indicate whether it intends to initiate a DFS crackdown. However, the MGCB’s opinion could be used as support against DFS in litigation.
Marc Edelman, a DFS legal expert offered the following, found on Legal Sports Report, “Michigan is not among the highest risk states such as Arizona, Louisiana or Tennessee, but without a formal study showing the ratio of skill to chance in daily fantasy sports, it is really a tough legal issue.” Edelman added that, “In reality, the legality probably varies by game format, with some formats on the right side of the line and others on the wrong side.”
In Kansas, the Racing and Gaming Commission offered an opinion that fantasy sports was an “illegal lottery” and said it was an illegal activity in the state. The legislature then passed a bill specifically legalizing it, which the governor signed into law.
Fantasy sports legislation is being considered by several states this year including Nevada, but so far the only state to pass a DFS law in 2015 is Kansas.