MassLive is reporting that DraftKings has offered the position of manager of government affairs on its website. The job description includes, “coordination and oversight of multi-state legislative effort,” and “overseeing grassroots efforts and implementing strategy to build grassroots presence.” However, Representative Joe Wagner told Statehouse News Service (subscription) on Thursday that no one has approached him at this point. Mr. Wagner is more than relevant to any discussion of gambling matters in the state as House chairman of the Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies, and one of the legislators who drafted Massachusetts’ 2011 gambling law.
The lawmaker indicated that the Boston-based DraftKings may become a subject of discussion between the Massachusetts Gaming Commission and lawmakers, but added that it is an open question whether those talks would facilitate any legislation in regard to the matter.
Last week the state’s Attorney General, Maura Healey said she was reviewing the company and that, “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, “We’re hearing them out on it, and as I said, we’re just looking to learn more.”
DraftKings and their number one competitor FanDuel have been inundating the airwaves and digital media with advertising and the promise of a chance to win big money in the nascent industry that allows players to enter contests pitting their made up sports team rosters against others. The difference in today’s Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) and the fantasy sports that enjoy a special carve-out at the federal level in the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, is that previous contests lasted all season, while most of those offered today can be entered into and completed daily. To date no legal opinion or action has drawn a distinction between the two forms.
Central to any discussion about DFS is whether law makers and/or regulators will come down on the side of DFS being a legal pastime that offers prizes to participants based on their level of skill, or if they may perceive the activity as sports betting, which has been illegal in all but a small handful of U.S. states since 1992.
According to media reports Representative Wagner said, “I think the attorney general in her remarks recently indicated that she’s going to try and get out front, and ahead of the issue. I think the dialogue, which is ongoing always between the Gaming Commission and the Legislature, albeit at arm’s length, is one that will give consideration to that issue.”
In earlier news this year the gambling regulator for Kansas issued an opinion that DFS were illegal in the state under a provision banning private lotteries. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt then issued a legal opinion stating the practice was legal, followed by a vote of 37-1 in the Senate, and 98-21 in the House to legitimize the practice. Governor Brownback signed the bill into law on May 19.
As far as current lobbying efforts, although we were unable to find a direct listing for DraftKings on the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s public lobbyist search site, Bay State Strategies Group counts among its clients the Fantasy Sports Trade Association based in Chicago. DraftKings is a member of the association and DraftKings’ president, Jason Robins sits on the board of directors.