Vermont AG’s Office Says DFS Is Illegal Gambling; Nearly 20% Of AGs Have Now Weighed In

Written By Dustin Gouker on January 18, 2016 - Last Updated on January 29, 2016
Vermont AG says DFS illegal

[toc]The Vermont attorney general’s office has said that daily fantasy sports should be considered illegal gambling in the state, bringing the total number of AG’s in the U.S. that have weighed in on the subject of DFS vis a vis state law to nine.

What Vermont has said

The news in Vermont came in a different fashion than nearly any other state. No official opinion on DFS was released, and it came via an official in the office of AG William Sorrell.

Per Reuters:

“Daily fantasy sports violate Vermont’s gambling laws,” John Treadwell, a state assistant attorney general said in an interview after discussing the proposed Vermont bill with legislators. “Vermont has very strict long-standing limitations on gambling.”

What’s next in Vermont?

There has been no threat of legal action being taken in the state, but Treadwell also indicated that a proposed regulatory effort in the legislature was not a good approach. (“Exalting one version of gambling above others does not seem appropriate,” per Reuters.) So, the next step is not at all clear.

A DFS bill legalizing and regulating the industry was introduced in the state legislature last week, when there had been little chatter previously. The support that bill might enjoy is unknown.

The AG tally on DFS

The number of attorney generals who have weighed in on the legality on DFS has now reached nine, and it has been a mixed bag for the DFS industry.

The AGs have generally fallen into three distinct categories:

DFS is gambling and/or illegal gambling

Vermont now joins this category, the one with the most occupants:

Regulatory bills have been introduced in both New York and Illinois.

DFS is legal

This opinion has been offered up in two states:

  • Massachusetts: AG Maura Healey has stated publicly that she believes DFS is legal under state law. She has also proposed regulations that would govern the industry.
  • Kansas: The AG issued an opinion in April of last year, saying that fantasy contests are games of skill, in the context of a bill that was introduced and later became law. Daily fantasy, however, was not specifically addressed.

Someone else deal with DFS

So far, three attorney general’s have issued opinions or talked publicly about DFS, but stopped short of actually taking any action.

  • Maryland: The AG’s office last week issued an opinion saying that a 2012 law that legalized fantasy contests possibly should have gone to a referendum. Brian Frosh’s office urged the legislature to take up the matter again.
  • Florida: AG Pam Bondi has repeatedly deferred to the U.S. attorney’s office in Tampa, where a grand jury has reportedly considered DFS.
  • South Dakota: AG Marty Jackley has commented on DFS, but what he will do, if anything, is unclear.

Other AGs on DFS?

There has been plenty of chatter that attorney generals in other states may eventually weigh in on DFS.

It appears that Texas AG Ken Paxton will issue an opinion in the near future. An opinion has been asked for from California AG Kamala Harris; its status is unknown.

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Dustin Gouker

Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer -- including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner.

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