May 20, 2015
The final installment of our ongoing coverage of Kansas’ continuing efforts to clarify the legality of fantasy sports contests concludes with Governor Sam Brownback signing a bill into law making it clear that playing fantasy sports for money is legal in the State. The law will become effective July 1, 2015.
What was the path that Kansas took to finally legalize fantasy sports?
As previously detailed, Kansans have been subjected to an uncertain legal terrain regarding fantasy sports over the last year as a result of the Kansas Gaming & Racing Commission’s announcement last summer that it considered to be illegal lotteries those fantasy sports contests that have cash buy-ins and which pay out prizes. Despite this proclamation, there have been no reported cases of a daily fantasy sports site or user thereof having ever come under legal scrutiny for offering or playing fantasy sports in the State. Nevertheless, the bill was introduced in an effort to ensure that Kansas residents would not be subjected to potential gambling violations for participating in online fantasy sports contests. Upon the request of wary lawmakers that were concerned that the bill violated the State’s constitutional prohibition against illegal lotteries, the State Attorney General subsequently issued a legal opinion letter regarding the constitutionality of the proposed bill.
After the Attorney General concluded that the proposal was constitutionally valid, the bill passed both houses of the State legislature by huge margins, 98-21 in the State House of Representatives and 37-1 in the State Senate, respectively. The Governor’s signature this week has now made Kansas the first State since Maryland in 2012 to pass a law legalizing fantasy sports.
Continued Momentum for Legalized Fantasy Sports
We have previously written of efforts in Washington, Indiana, Louisiana, Iowa, and Montana to legalize fantasy sports. So far, none of those states have been able to duplicate Kansas’ recent achievement in ultimately passing a bill into law. Nevertheless, the efforts of these states, as well as the recent events in Kansas, indicate clear momentum to address the legal status of fantasy sports in those remaining jurisdictions which do not otherwise allow for legal for-pay fantasy sports contests.
The evolution of state law in this field remains a significant topic for all gaming attorneys, fantasy sports lawyers and those interested in fantasy sports law in general. Where you plan on engaging in, or operating, a fantasy sports or other gaming venture, it is important to retain competent legal counsel to help you design your contests so that they comport with applicable law.
The material contained herein is provided for information purposes only and is not legal advice, nor is it a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney. Each situation is unique, and you should not act or rely on any information contained herein without seeking the advice of an experienced attorney.
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