On Thursday, Comptroller Peter Franchot (pictured) issued a set of proposed DFS guidelines based on his belief that the activity had “established a significant presence” in the state and it was appropriate to ensure that “the games are fair, anticompetitive abuses are declared out of bounds, and appropriate taxes are paid.”
The guidelines – which aren’t binding until the legislature concurs – largely resemble the consumer protections first established by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and which have been mimicked by other states that have taken steps to authorize DFS within their borders.
Franchot’s guidelines would limit play to those 18 years or older, prohibit games based on college sports, ban the use of “anticompetitive” third-party scripts and tag “highly experienced” players with a scarlet letter so noobs know to steer clear.
Players would only be allowed to deposit $1k per month into their DFS account, unless they ask the operator really really nicely to raise that limit, and “certify” that they can afford to go on throwing their money away. Operators would be forbidden from offering credit to players.
DFS operators would also have to “notify Marylanders of their potential tax obligations.” Franchot suggests winning players are “potentially subject to Maryland income taxes.”
Maryland’s view of DFS has been fluid, to say the least. In 2012, the legislature passed a bill exempting fantasy sports from the state’s wagering laws and handed responsibility for their oversight to the Comptroller’s office.
Fast forward to last October, when Franchot told a Board of Public Works meeting that DFS appears to be “just gambling” and “one half step away from the total corruption of sports.”
This prompted DFS operators DraftKings and FanDuel to team their lobbying efforts but January saw the state Attorney General’s office issue an opinion questioning the legality of the 2012 law and suggested that authorizing DFS could require a voter referendum.
There were a couple bills that would have expressly authorized DFS but the legislature adjourned in April without taking any action on any DFS bills.