DraftKings a ‘skill’ to Baker while Healey terms it ‘gambling’
By State House News Service | November 12, 2015, 22:01 EDT
BOSTON – In the wake of the New York attorney general’s cease and desist order shutting down daily fantasy sports sites like DraftKings and FanDuel in that neighboring state, Gov. Charlie Baker and Attorney General Maura Healey appear to be at odds over whether playing daily fantasy sports is gambling.
Baker told reporters Thursday that he played a free DraftKings game on his phone last weekend — he drafted Tom Brady as his quarterback — and said, “I don’t think it’s gambling. It’s a game of skill.”
During a radio appearance earlier in the day Thursday, he said “I’m convinced it’s legal in Massachusetts, I don’t have a problem with that.”
But on Wednesday, Healey, who previously said her office’s review of the industry found nothing in federal or Massachusetts law that would prohibit the activity, told reporters daily fantasy sports is gambling.
“I think that people looking at this acknowledge it’s a form of gambling,” she said, according to MassLive. “The question, though, is whether or not that’s actionable under the law and do we have in place the right kind of legal and regulatory framework to address that.”
Baker, during his appearance on WGBH’s “Boston Public Radio” Thursday, said he is particularly interested in looking at the consumer protections around daily fantasy sports.
“It’s a new enterprise, it’s a new business, it’s a new way of engaging people in these games of skill, and I think it’s important when you have one of those to make sure you have the right kinds of consumer protections in place to be sure people are playing on a level playing field,” Baker said. “That, to me, is kind of the biggest and most important part and that is something I really do want guidance from the AG about.”
Healey, to whom Beacon Hill leaders have looked for help in understanding how fantasy sports sites like DraftKings and FanDuel fit into the broader gambling marketplace, previously asked industry representatives to come to her office to answer questions about protections in place to prevent “insider activity” that could disadvantage average players.
Healey’s office has been reviewing the business model and consumer protections of daily fantasy sports sites since September. Meanwhile, Baker and others on Beacon Hill have seemed content to defer to Healey before taking any action.
“If the AG comes back and says these are the four or five things we need to do as a Commonwealth to ensure that people who participate in these are appropriately protected and the playing field is level and no one has more knowledge than anybody else — or more information, knowledge is different — those are things I would support doing,” the governor said.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman this week said FanDuel and DraftKings were violating New York laws against illegal gambling.
“Our investigation has found that, unlike traditional fantasy sports, daily fantasy sports companies are engaged in illegal gambling under New York law, causing the same kinds of social and economic harms as other forms of illegal gambling, and misleading New York consumers,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “Daily fantasy sports is neither victimless nor harmless, and it is clear that DraftKings and FanDuel are the leaders of a massive, multi-billion-dollar scheme intended to evade the law and fleece sports fans across the country. Today we have sent a clear message: not in New York, and not on my watch.”
DraftKings subsequently called Schneiderman’s decision “hasty and uninformed” and said it was working with the law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher “on all civil matters, investigations and regulatory inquiries, including the current situation in New York.”
“We intend to pursue this fight to the fullest to ensure that hundreds of thousands of New York fantasy sports fans can continue to play the games they love,” company spokesman Benjamin Spicehandler said on Wednesday.