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Hawaii’s attorney general says daily fantasy sports contests are illegal gambling


    In this Sept. 9, 2015, file photo, Len Don Diego, marketing manager for content at DraftKings, a daily fantasy sports company, works at his station at the company’s offices in Boston.

Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin issued a formal opinion today that daily fantasy sports contests constitute illegal gambling under state law.

“Gambling generally occurs under Hawaii law when a person stakes or risks something of value upon a game of chance or upon any future contingent event not under the person’s control,” Chin said in a news release. “The technology may have changed, but the vice has not.”

Hawaii is the latest state to declare fantasy sports illegal. New York, Illinois and most recently Texas, have issued similar opinions.

It doesn’t mean that fantasy sports betting will immediately stop in Hawaii.

Fantasy sports companies disagree with the state attorneys general and sued the Illinois attorney general over the opinion that fantasy sports betting is gambling.

“This involves games of skill and individuals acting as general manager of a team that is in competition with other teams,” said Randy Mastro, a New York-based attorney representing DraftKings in Texas told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “It’s for predetermined prizes.

“For everything from beauty contests to bass fishing, you pay a fee, you compete and you win a prize,” he said. “It’s perfectly legal and always has been.”

The issue also appears to be headed to court in New York.

The debate centers on whether the games rely on skill or chance.

Participants pay entry fees to choose players and can win money based on the professional athletes’ performances in the real world.

Chin’s opinion was written in response to an inquiry from state Sen. Roz Baker (West Maui- South Maui).

Legislatures in several states are considering laws to clarify whether fantasy sports betting is illegal or should be regulated.

Nearly 60 million Americans participate in fantasy sports, with the vast majority playing in a league with friends or colleagues that might be considered “social gambling” which is legal in Hawaii, the attorney general said. In contrast, daily fantasy sports contests typically involve competitions between hundreds or thousands of people, are played daily, involve wagers of up to $1,000, and allow each individual multiple entries leading to top prizes of up to $1 million, Chin said the news release.

DraftKings and rival FanDuel have become a major source of revenue for professional sports teams, and their ads were everywhere on television during this NFL season.

The attorney general said the office is considering the next steps to take, including civil or criminal enforcement.


Star-Advertiser news services contributed to this story.

Attorney general opinion of fantasy sports betting

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  • Is the AG’s office really this bored or do they even think for a second they can do anything to keep us from out right gambling, whether thru fantasy or how ever we choose? And you wonder why we keep on lighting up the sky despite firework laws, we have clearly stated, No State you are not going to keep us from freely exercising our right to pursue happiness even if it doesn’t agree with your idea of morality.

    • I guess you didn’t read the entire story. The AG rendered his opinion at the request of a Senator. The Senator along with all holders of elected office at the State level, are his clients. They cannot ignore a client’s request for a legal opinion.

      • Sure so let’s see what the elected officials do with this decision, the track records says they’ll pass more laws or tighten current ones what I’m saying is they are wasting thier time.

    • That makes no sense. So if you like punching your wife because she doesn’t disagree with you after that, it’s okay even if the state says it’s wrong? If you like heroin, you can “exercise your right to pursue happiness” by using it? If your neighbor like buy heroin and it makes him happy, you can sell it to him? After all, there is no way to eliminate domestic violence or drug trafficking, so why does our AG waste money trying to stop people from doing things they like?

      I mean, really.

  • If Hawaii legalizes gambling we won’t be short of money. What does it take for the law makers to realize this. Even just a lottery. What are they afraid of that we don’t have already?

    • If you legalize gambling in Hawaii than Hawaii will no longer be paradise. Hawaii is suppose to represent the best of everything, from the natural beauty to the lovely people that have the aloha spirit. Aren’t you glad we don’t have giant billboards everywhere. Now if we can only do something and help the homeless …

  • No different that betting on the outcome of a baseball game, boxing match or horse race.
    Not the same a betting on the outcome of a political election – where the contestants are all losers and so are we.

    • A friend who was a bodyguard for some gamblers told me, never bet more than you can lose, there is no system otherwise we would all be millionaires, and he never met anyone who got rich unless they had money to start with. If that’s the case, why gamble?

        • LOL why don’t we just take a look at the recent 1.6 billion lottery. And how many people became rich? Of the millions and millions of tickets sold and the poor saps that brought them only 3 jackpot winners and a few smaller winners became rich. Would you like to take a guess how many poor saps lost thousands of their hard earn cash in hopes of winning big?

  • Really now, isn’t there more serious criminal activity going on that the AG’s office could/should investigate, pursue, and prosecute? Perhaps this activity is a ‘low-hanging-fruit’ of an issue to pursue; makes for good headlines and shows that ‘hey!, I’m working!’. How much, pray tell, did the AG’s office spend in manpower, resources, and dollars to come to this (gambling) conclusion? Between the AG’s (state and county) and the politicians, they’re trying to tighten up on blood-alcohol standards while moving to legalize marijuana, and picking on ‘manini’ issues like fantasy football/sports? So what makes stock market trading legal? By a broad definition of ‘gambling’, stock market activities would fall right in there. You buy stock in any given company, but depending on the company’s product, supply of that product, demand for that product, price of that product, external economic factors, competency of the company’s management, etc., you could make money (sell the stock at a higher price because someone deemed that stock to be worth more than before), or lose your entire investment. Sounds like ‘gambling’ to me….

    • The AG has to respond to senator Roz.

      “Chin’s opinion was written in response to an inquiry from state Sen. Roz Baker (West Maui- South Maui).”

      • And the AG could have responded by prioritizing more pressing legal issues over this inquiry. Meanwhile Sen. Roz Baker should also focus on more pressing matters that are of concern to the people and state of Hawaii. To wit, homelessness, high cost of living, higher quality jobs and the pay that goes with it, diversifying our ‘one trick pony’ of an economy, reforming the high cost of government, lowering taxes, ad infinitum.

    • AG needs to start investigating all the financial shenanigans, smoke and mirrors being done by Grabby and all the HART minions. So much money being wasted by these clueless baboozes.

      Our children and grandchildren will be stuck with the crushing yearly rail O&M costs. Already a 9% property tax increase is on the table with similar tax increases every year.

    • serious, you nailed it. The visitor/tourism/airline industry doesn’t want a casino or the tourists will flock there instead of watching a phoney “cultural” exhibit, spending their kala on trash and trinkets , or flocking to Vega$. For sure The Boyd Gaming Corporation doesn’t want gambling in Hawai’i or they’ll take a hit on their market share.

  • First of all I agree with wilikitutu stating that the attorney general is responding to a senator. He’s not enforcing his statement.

    The second part of the definition of gambling “or upon any future contingent event where it’s not under the persons control”. Makes the stock market considered as gambling.

  • I can see in your face gambling where Casinos and Bingo houses break out and ruin the aura of Hawaii. But not online gambling. If people are dumb enough to spend more then they can afford, that’s their issue. Politicians need to keep out of personal lives. They are just pissed off because they can’t tap into taxing that activity so they can blow more money on rail.

  • Sad, really AG needs to step back, and leave it for the voter’s and taxpayer’s to decide rather gambling should be allowed in Hawaii not Governor, therefore the Senator and House of Rep, should help to legalize gambling, relax/and fun time for the local resident, stop telling us what we can and cannot do………

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