Massachusetts Attorney General Says Daily Fantasy Sports Legal; State Lotteries Emerge As Potential New Rival
By Vela Wood
After reviewing the legal status of daily fantasy sports, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced last week that no federal or state laws prohibit daily fantasy sports in Massachusetts.
Although Healey’s office has not yet released a formal opinion, fantasy sports sites can continue to provide services and customers who participate in DFS contests and can do so without being worried that they are breaking the law in Massachusetts.
“We’re not looking to shut them down,” Healey said.
Although Healey’s statement has no official ramifications outside the state, her conclusion is consistent with – and furthers – the momentum gathering behind explicit legalization. In the absence of a directly conflicting opinion, Healey’s statements provide substantial support for the legal status of fantasy sports and may ultimately prove useful to policymakers at both state and federal levels. Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo said the Legislature is “anxiously” awaiting more facts and recommendations from Healey.
However, just because the Massachusetts Attorney General has cleared the field doesn’t mean fantasy sports sites should unsnap their chinstraps just yet. Instead, they may have to start training to tackle a new rival – state lottery commissions.
Massachusetts State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg, who runs the state lottery, announced that her office is reviewing fantasy sports sites. The review is expected to be broad and, of particular interest to fantasy sports sites, will include an exploration of expanding the Lottery Commission’s existing offerings with new skill-based game ventures. Legislation filed last month would allow Massachusetts “to implement online games of skill, including, but not limited to, fantasy sports.”
Officials indicated the Lottery Commission is considering entering the fantasy industry itself. “There is clearly an appetite for this kind of game play,” said a statement from Goldberg’s office. “We look forward to a partnership with the Legislature on the future of our involvement in this market.”
Although it is too early to say whether state lottery commissions will eventually emerge as relevant industry competitors, the Massachusetts State Treasury’s announcement of review and objectives is yet another state-level development that supports the legal status of fantasy sports on a national level.