The Attorney General of Hawaii, General Doug Chin issued his official opinion of daily fantasy sports, deciding that it constitutes illegal gambling under Hawaiian state law. Let’s take a look at how he came to this conclusion and how this decision affects Hawaii.
General Doug Chin's Statement
“Gambling generally occurs under Hawaii law when a person stakes or risks something of value upon a game of chance or upon any future contingent event, not under the person’s control. The technology may have changed, but the vice has not.”
Hawaii is One of a Growing Number of States
Hawaii is one of an increasing number of states that have declared fantasy sports to be prohibited. Illinois, New York, and just recently Texas have all issued similar reports that they believe DFS falls under the category of gambling. However, the good news for Hawaiian DFS fans is that the online gameplay will not disappear in Hawaii until a final verdict can be concluded as to what actions the Hawaii state government will take.
DFS Companies' Reaction to the General
Fantasy sports websites like FanDuel and DraftKings have issued their disagreement with the attorney generals against DFS and have even opened a lawsuit against the Illinois attorney general for his opinion that DFS is a form of gambling. An attorney who is representing DraftKings stated:
“This involves games of skill and individuals acting as general manager of a team that is in competition with other team. For everything from beauty contests to bass fishing, you pay a fee, you compete and you win a prize. It’s perfectly legal and always has been.”
The Big Debate
The debate between DFS companies and the opposition of the gameplay form centers on whether it is based on chance or skill. DFS players pay entry fees to pick their players and will win money based on how well their chosen athletes preform in real games.
Why Chin is Giving His Opinion Now
Chin decided to chime into the heated topic due to an inquiry he received from state Senator Roz Baker, who is charged with West and South Maui. Several states are looking into changing their laws to clarify whether fantasy sports wagering is prohibited or regulations need to be put into place.
Close to 60 million US citizens play in a fantasy sports league, with most of them playing with colleagues or friends. Doing so may be considered social gambling, which is legal under Hawaiian state law. Conversely, DFS contests usually involve hundreds even thousands of people and are played on a daily basis. They include bets for as much as $1,000 and let each person enter in one contest multiple times to increase their chance of winning the top prize.
FanDuel and DraftKings have provided a tremendous revenue source for sports teams, and you’ve likely seen one of their ads on TV during the NFL season. However, if you are a Hawaii resident, your time playing the favorite past time may be limited, as the attorney general stated that his office is investigating how to proceed, including potential criminal and civil enforcement.