California Tribes Say Daily Fantasy Pick’em ‘Illegal Sports Wagering’

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A large faction of California tribes referred to controversial daily fantasy sports pick’em games as “illegal sports wagering” in a letter to the state attorney general.

The California Indian Nations Gaming Association (CNIGA) submitted its daily fantasy sports comments on pick’em games in a Jan. 31 letter to state Attorney General Rob Bonta. There are 52 member tribes in CNIGA, which submitted the letter in response to Bonta’s call for opinions as part of his inquiry into DFS in the state.

The state AG’s office is currently reviewing whether the state’s gambling laws prohibit DFS. 

What daily fantasy sports letter said

The letter, submitted by CNIGA chairman James Siva, states: 

“The State has not yet taken any actions against or made any determinations regarding the legality of the operation of Pick’em Games within the State.

“However, even assuming fantasy sports wagering is legal under the laws of the State, the Pick’em Games offered by major operators of said games, such as Underdog Fantasy and PrizePicks, do not qualify as lawful fantasy sports or contests but illegal sports wagering.”

CNIGA: Reasons why pick’em is illegal

The CNIGA letter expanded on why pick’em games are “illegal sports wagering:” 

CA is top daily fantasy sports market

California is the largest DFS market in the country with approximately $200 million in annual entry fees. However, the market is currently unregulated, with the state collecting zero taxes on it. 

The state AG’s office began its DFS probe following an October letter from state Sen. Scott Wilk asking for it. 

Wilk’s inquiry centers on whether DFS are more skill-based or a game of chance, which could make them illegal under state gaming laws.

State AG seeking answers in probe

Bonta has solicited opinions from interested parties on the following questions: 

“Does California law prohibit the offering and operation of daily fantasy sports betting platforms with players physically located within the State of California, regardless of whether the operators and associated technology are located within or outside of the State?”

There is no timeline for the investigation’s completion.