Major daily fantasy sports sites are preparing their allies for a fantasy sports legal battle in Maryland.
In preparation for the opening of the Maryland General Assembly session on Jan. 13, fantasy sports sites Fanduel and DraftKings have joined forces to mobilize players as officials look to determine whether or not the industry should be considered illegal gambling under Maryland law.
More than 100,000 Maryland residents who played in these fantasy sports sites have received emails urging them to support fantasy sports with Comptroller Peter Franchot.
“Your ability to continue playing fantasy sports in Maryland is at risk,” the email reads. “But it’s not too late. Let state Comptroller Peter Franchot know that Maryland residents want to continue playing fantasy sports. We support regulations that reasonably and fairly protect your right to continue enjoying the games you love. But some states have banned fantasy sports, and we are concerned that Maryland may be heading in that direction.”
DraftKings and Fanduel have also retained Baltimore and Annapolis lawyer Frank Boston III and officials from the Annapolis government relations firm Perry, White, Ross & Jacobson as their lobbyists in the state.
In addition, Fanduel has also retained attorney Stephen Martino, former director of the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency, to work on legal and regulatory issues.
Maryland enacted a law in 2012 allowing fans to play season-long fantasy sports contests and gave the comptroller’s office the authority to regulate the activity. However, as the industry changed, lawmakers and regulators are now asking whether reforms are needed.
State Senate president Thomas Mike Miller has asked Frosh to look at whether existing fantasy sports operations are in compliance with the 2012 law.
Franchot, along with AG Brian Frosh, staff for Gov. Larry Hogan, and officials from the state lottery and gaming commission met behind closed doors in Annapolis in December to discuss the issue.
Franchot is working to answering basic questions about fantasy sports such as whether these DFS companies are operating legally, if taxes are being properly collected and if Maryland consumers are protected.
The Maryland legislature’s Joint Committee on Gaming Oversight planned a hearing on the legality of fantasy sports in December but this was postponed to give officials more time to review the issues. The panel has not set a new date for the discussion.