Vermont Attorney General latest to say daily fantasy sports is illegal gambling

vermont-daily-fantasy-sports-illegal-gamblingThe Vermont state attorney general’s office has become the latest to call daily fantasy sports an illegal gambling activity.

On Friday, the Vermont AG’s criminal division chief John Treadwell told a state Senate committee that the AG’s office was of the opinion that DFS activities “fall within the coverage of Vermont’s gambling statutes.”

Treadwell urged the state Senate Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs Committee not to approve Sen. Kevin Mullin’s S 223, which seeks to regulate and establish certain consumer protections on the DFS sector.

Treadwell said the AG’s office was open to participating in an examination of the state’s gaming laws, which ban wagering on games of skill or chance. But Treadwell said S 223 “takes one variety of illegal, for-profit gambling and makes it legal without any consideration for why this particular one is being chosen and others are not.”

Following the hearing, Treadwell told Reuters that DFS shouldn’t be singled out for special treatment, as “exalting one version of gambling above others does not seem appropriate.”

Challenged by Mullin as to why the AG’s office had not launched prosecutions of DFS operators or the thousands of Vermont DFS players, Treadwell said gambling had “not been an enforcement priority” for the state’s legal authorities.

Vermont joins New York, Illinois and Nevada on the list of state attorneys general who have recently declared that DFS is gambling. So far, only New York AG Eric Schneiderman has taken this opinion to the criminal complaint level but the odds are against Schneiderman remaining a solo act for too much longer.

Friday also saw the Maryland Attorney General’s office throw shade at DFS. Assistant AG Katherine Rose and Chief Counsel Adam Snyder penned a joint letter to state Senate President Mike Miller informing him of their opinion that while a 2012 state law had authorized season-long fantasy activity, the daily variety was on sketchier legal footing.

The AG’s office also said the 2012 law appeared to conflict with a 2007 amendment to the state constitution that required any expansion of legal gambling to be approved via a voter referendum. However, the letter acknowledged that the courts might have a different take on this situation.

Meanwhile, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval wants the state’s Gaming Policy Committee (GPC) to tackle the DFS issue. On Friday, Sandoval issued a statement saying the legal questions surrounding DFS “demand the attention of Nevada’s policy leaders” and that there was “no better place in the world to host this important conversation than Nevada.”

Sandoval revived the dormant GPC in 2011 to assist the state’s plans to launch an intrastate online poker market. In addition to DFS, Sandoval wants the GPC to review the state’s interactive gaming agreement, the introduction of skill-based gaming devices and other technical innovations.