D.F.S. REGULATION A HOT TOPIC IN ILLINOIS, MASSACHUSETTS.
State officials investigating daily fantasy sports possibilities.
The regulation of daily fantasy sports is a hot topic in Massachusetts and Illinois, according to reports over the weekend in the Boston Herald and the Daily Herald in Illinois.
The Boston newspaper reports that the Massachusetts State Lottery is considering the development of a daily fantasy sports game, with lottery director Michael Sweeney exploring options amid legal ambiguity, and commenting that involvement is necessary if state lotteries are to remain viable in a changing gambling landscape.
"Until such time as it becomes absolutely clear that this is illegal, we have an obligation to really grapple with the potential," he said. "It's about figuring out what's the next step. How do lotteries engage the technology of the mobile and online world and what should that look like, if anything?"
Sweeney discussed systems other states are considering, noting that Montana has developed a hybrid bricks and mortar – online version of DFS in which players fill out a game card and turn it into designated brick-and-mortar locations, much as they would with a Powerball ticket.
The lottery director said the first step in Massachusetts will be the issue of a formal "request for information" sometime in December, following the state Lottery Commission's decision last Monday to move forward with the inquiry. This is a fact-finding initiative, and involves the gathering of information from industry experts, including operators.
"There are a lot of moving parts," Sweeney said. "We'll try to cover as much of the gamut as possible. We'll ask about products that are completed and ready to go and products in development. We'll ask about various aspects of consumer protection like location services, securing bank transactions and age verification."
The lottery would also need state legislative approval, which could come from bills on the regulation of online gambling already in the Legislature or specifically dealing with daily fantasy sports.
The Boston Herald says that the state lottery is among the most successful in the US, generating almost a billion dollars in profits annually for state projects…but the player base is aging, and there is a need to engage with the younger "millennial" demographic.
Over in Illinois, the Daily Herald published an interview with Illinois Gaming Board chairman Don Tracey, who revealed that his organisation is "actively investigating" whether to regulate daily fantasy sports websites operating in the state.
"We don't want to rush to judgment, but we do have concerns about it," Tracey told the newspaper, revealing that the debate centres on whether the DFS genre is a skill game or gambling, as it has been categorised by the Nevada gaming authorities.
"If in fact it is gambling, which is something that hasn't been determined for certain, it needs to be banned or regulated," Tracy said. "We suspect that it is [gambling], but we have not taken a formal position on that."
Although proposals to legalise online gambling have so far failed to gain traction in Illinois, the state is among the leaders when it comes to internet sales of lottery tickets.