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Prosecutor tells fantasy sports companies to ‘cease and desist’


    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.

Honolulu Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro sent letters to fantasy sports companies FanDuel and DraftKings telling them to stop taking money from Honolulu residents.

“Gambling is illegal in Hawaii, and on January 27, 2016, the state Attorney General issued a formal advisory opinion confirming what I have long believed: That daily fantasy sports contests are a form of gambling and violate Hawaii statutes,” Kaneshiro wrote in the letter dated Monday.

Attorney General Doug Chin issued an advisory opinion last week stating that the daily fantasy sports contests are in violation of Hawaii law. Chin’s office said it was studying its next steps.

“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 a person’s control,” Chin said in a news release last week. “The technology may have changed, but the vice has not.”

Under Hawaii law, promoting gambling can constitute a class C felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Chin’s opinion was written in response to a request from Maui Sen. Roz Baker.

Lawmakers are considering bills, proposed by the fantasy sports industry, that would change Hawaii law to allow for daily fantasy sports contests.

The measures stipulate that daily fantasy contests are not gambling, and would implement a number of consumer protections, such as requiring operators to verify that customers are at least 18.

Randy Mastro, an attorney for DraftKings, said Chin’s interpretation of Hawaii law is incorrect.

“DFS (daily fantasy sports) is a game of skill and Hawaii law clearly permits such games of skill,” Mastro said in an emailed statement last week. “We intend to continue our constructive work with lawmakers in the state, and across the nation, to see to it that fans are able to continue to enjoy the fantasy sports contests they love.”

Daily fantasy sports contests are a multibillion-dollar industry, dominated by DraftKings and FanDuel.

Customers of the fantasy sports sites pay an entrance fee, put together rosters of fictional sports teams made up of real players and can win cash based on the players’ performance in real games.

Attorneys general in New York, Illinois and Texas have also said the contests are illegal under their state laws.

Hawaii residents playing in the daily fantasy sports contests are not the focus of potential enforcement actions, said Josh Wisch, a spokesman for the attorney general.

Cease and desist letter to DraftKings by Honolulu Star-Advertiser

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  • Dear Kieth,
    Mind your own business. We are adults and can make these decisions for ourselves and without state approved orders.

    Carry on People, its superbowl weekend!

        • Although I think that we should allow some forms of gambling here, how is fantasy any different than betting on the outcome of a game? Assuming of course that betting on the outcome of a game is gambling, right?

        • I understand that it doesn’t have anything to do with the game’s outcome. My question is how is betting on the performance of a player (or players) individually different than betting on a team?

        • a team plays another “team” on a given week.

          players play different “teams” on a given week, it’s a different dynamic.

          I don’t want to write a thesis on this subject but I compare it to the stock
          market on buying and selling stocks, you gotta do your homework.

    • Keith is doing his job, which is to enforce the laws, not make them. If we can prohibit smoking, compel people to buy health insurance, etc., we can certainly prohibit gambling.

      • I don’t think the city prosecutor even has the authority to bring charges against an out of state corporation. What’s he going to do – send Kealoha’s CRU and his crooked prosecutor wife to serve an arrest warrant at the company headquarters? This matter is for the state attorney general to handle, Kaneshiro just wants to get his name in the news running up to an election. He better hope no one opposes him, I think that’ll be the only way he retains his job. Too many Deedy type fiascos going on in his office.

    • noheawilli – That might be true in other states but not in the Nei. Our “Adult” elected bureaucrats cannot do anything without their special interest/union bosses pulling their strings, ensuring they always get what the want.

      Real adults would make their own decision. Hasn’t happened in the Nei for decades.

    • Lots of real crime taking place Keith, how about you prioritize your limited resources and go after the crimes that have actual victims first.

  • Good! It is about time someone called this out for what it is. Shame on those stupid Republican presidential candidates for glibly saying they play these stupid games. They were just courting the sports bums.

  • Definition of gambling is when one risk something in hopes of getting something in return. Skill or no skill you are still risking money in hopes to get money. So if someone has skills, does that mean this person is guarantee a “win”? If people wants to play so be it just change it so that no money is involved.

  • DraftKings has been ordered to stop doing business on Oahu by the Prosecuting Attorney, not just stop engaging in fantasy sports gambling. Strange order. Get out of here.

  • Good grief. Why not let adults decide how they want to spend their money Keith. You like Roz Baker are nothing but arrogant members of the political class perpetuating the nanny state. If I want to play draft kings, get out of my face. It’s my money. It’s my life and it’s not hurting anybody else.

  • ridiculous. fantasy football is not gambling, and even if it was, who the hell cares? nobody is forcing anyone to play fantasy sports. so if i want to do it, leave me the heck alone. seriously, what have we become when fantasy football is illegal?

  • I guess Hawaii should outlaw trading stocks, e.g. day trading ETFs as an example. What a joke. Fantasy sports is a game of skill if you ever played it.

  • Gambling is listed as a crime against morals.

    I was always told you can’t legislate morality.

    But, even proper gaming/gambling takes skill, which is why certain skilled “professional” gamblers keep on winning tournaments.

    If only chance was involved, well.

    But in the AMERICA I was promised, if you do not like to game/gamble, please feel free to not gamble. But do not dare to impose your prudish morals on me.

  • Screen shot shows free entry with a deposit but no actual money wagering… what is the problem here? Must be that the goons cannot go down to Chinatown, Kapiolani and Keeaumoku Street and shake them down to get their cut vs the online cash transmitted somewhere far off to the Caribbean. Yup, I would be upset if I couldn’t get a % of that multimillon dollar pie.

  • “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 a person’s control,” Chin said in a news release last week. “The technology may have changed, but the vice has not.”

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