Rhode Island AG says DFS is legal; FCC not deluged by DFS TV ad complaints

TAGs: daily fantasy sports, rhode island

rhode-island-attorney-general-daily-fantasy-sports-legalDaily fantasy sports operators have caught a break as Rhode Island’s attorney general declared the activity to be legal under state law.

On Thursday, Rhode Island AG Peter Kilmartin (pictured) sent a letter to Gov. Gina Raimondo and the heads of the state’s two legislative chambers informing them that a review had concluded that DFS “may currently operate legally in the state of Rhode Island.”

Kilmartin cautioned that DFS “does implicate certain provisions of existing civil and criminal statutes” as Rhode Island prohibits “games of chance” and lotteries not operated by the state. But Kilmartin believes DFS doesn’t meet the state’s definition of a lottery based on his belief that the element of chance is not the “dominant factor” in determining the success of a DFS lineup.

Nonetheless, Kilmartin gave a “very strong suggestion” to state legislators to enact a DFS-specific statute that will establish a “high level of regulation.” Kilmartin believes such measures would ensure “criminal elements do not infiltrate the game,” while also protecting minors and problem gamblers. Kilmartin even suggested that a regulated DFS sector could “potentially generate revenue” for the state.

Rhode Island barely has 1m residents but Kilmartin’s opinion breaks a prolonged losing streak for DFS in state attorneys general offices. January alone saw Hawaii, Mississippi Texas and Vermont all declare DFS to be illegal, while Illinois ticked the ‘illegal’ box two days before Christmas. New York kicked off this parade of illegality last November, while Nevada ruled one month earlier that DFS was legal, but only for operators holding a Nevada gaming license.

The team Rhode Island just joined has far fewer members. Kansas AG Derek Schmidt gave DFS the legal thumbs up last April, while Massachusetts’ Maura Healey publicly declared her intention not to prosecute DFS operators in October.

Not surprisingly, DFS operators DraftKings and FanDuel welcomed Kilmartin’s opinion like a New York hooker welcomes Fleet Week. DraftKings issued a statement saying “we agree” with the opinion while FanDuel went one better by proclaiming that “we completely agree.”

Last fall’s inescapable DFS television advertising blitz was the butt of many social media jokes and the bane of many a sports fan’s existence, but the irritation apparently wasn’t enough to get the feds involved.

EPSN filed a freedom of information request with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to see how many formal complaints it registered regarding the DFS deluge. All of 15, as it turns out. By comparison, rapper M.I.A.’s use of the middle finger during her 2012 Super Bowl halftime appearance generated over 200 complaints, while Janet Jackson’s infamous ‘Nipplegate’ generated over 540k complaints. There you have it, DFS companies: to really make waves next time, go topless.


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