Alabama attorney general moves to shut down fantasy sports sites

Shelby TaussigUncategorized6 Comments

WRITTEN BY  ON APRIL 6, 2016 AT 2:45 PM CDT

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — After extended silence, Alabama Attorney General has declared that online fantasy sports betting sites are illegal according to state law.

Popular sites DraftKings and FanDuel have been issued cease and desist letters by Strange and have until May 1st to end all paid contests in the state of Alabama.

“As Attorney General, it is my duty to uphold Alabama law, including the laws against illegal gambling,” Attorney General Strange said in a statement. “Daily fantasy sports operators claim that they operate legally under Alabama law. However, paid daily fantasy sports contests are in fact illegal gambling under Alabama law.”

Strange says that in Alabama, an activity constitutes illegal gambling if a person stakes something of value on a contest of chance, even when skill is involved, in order to win a prize.

Over 700,000 Alabamians — roughly 20% of the state’s population over the age of 18 — played fantasy sports last year, with the vast majority participating in various NFL and NASCAR fantasy leagues.

Here’s how it works:

Season-long fantasy leagues often consist of groups of friends who play for free on websites like ESPN and Yahoo. Daily and weekly fantasy games, however, begin by team managers paying an entry fee — ranging from as little as 25 cents up to $1,000 — to compete against opponents — ranging from dozens of them, to hundreds — for a prize pool that can sometimes be as large as $2 million. Team managers bid on real-life players to assemble a roster, then win or lose based on how their fantasy players perform in real games.

The debate over fantasy sports regulation comes down to whether or not they are considered games of chance or skill. Strange contends that they are clearly contests of chance, but online fantasy sports advocates say that there is far more to it than just that.

Thousands of experts compile and analyze the data and fantasy team managers consume as much data as possible in hopes of getting a leg up on the competition. It is for this reason that the top level fantasy leagues see their most skilled players win on a regular basis.

Many fantasy football team managers, for instance, not only take into account surface-level statistics like receiving, passing and rushing yardage, but much more nuanced considerations. These may include how each player has historically performed against the team he is facing; how the weather may impact each player’s output; whether a player may be extra motivated against a rival; and even what time of day the game is taking place. In paid games, these deeper considerations could also include which players are relatively under-or-overvalued, based on what other players are bidding to have them on their team.

Fantasy sports advocates point to the similarities between their contests and fishing or golf tournaments. Players pay an entry fee prior to playing. There are certain elements of chance involved. For instance, the weather could impact your round of golf differently from an opponent with a different tee time, and sometimes the fish in certain areas of a lake just happen to be biting more than in others. And yet golfers like Jordan Spieth and anglers like Aaron Martens win tournament after tournament. The same can be said of the top fantasy football leagues. The best players statistically win more often than their competition.

Senate Bill 114 — and a companion bill in the House (HB56) — would clarify that fantasy sports are legal in Alabama and “establish the Fantasy Contests Act to regulate the operation of fantasy or simulated contests in the state.”

The fantasy sports companies are in favor of the regulation, which clarifies their legitimacy in the state and creates a transparent system of accountability.

But some interest groups in Montgomery are pushing for more onerous regulations that would make it difficult for the fantasy sports industry — which generated a jaw-dropping $4.6 billion in revenue in 2015 — to operate in Alabama.

The action in legislature, if passed, would counteract the actions of A.G. Strange and protect the legal operation of online fantasy sports companies in the state.

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6 Comments on “Alabama attorney general moves to shut down fantasy sports sites”

  1. This shouldn’t be any of Alabama’s business what we do on the Internet, it’s like they are trying to control the Internet now. This hurts no one in the state of Alabama and has no way of being illegal when Fan Duel isn’t even located in Alabama. It’s nobody’s business what we do out of state on the Internet. Any fantasy sports Should be Legal, it is not located in Alabama. There are more crucial things going on in state that they need to control! Let people have enjoyment in playing fantasy sports.

  2. PLEASE TELL ME WHY OUR CONGRESS WOULD WANT TO STOP ALL OF THIS MONEY PASSING THROUGH OUR STATE. WE ARE ONE OF THE POOREST STATES IN THE COUNTRY AND WE HAVE TO SIT BACK AND WATCH OTHER STATES PROSPER BECAUSE THEY ALLOW GAMBLING AND GAMING. DOES OUR CONGRESS NOT REALIZE HOW MUCH MONEY LEAVES THIS STATE EVERY DAY TO GAMBLE IN OTHER STATES. THEY COULD REGULATE IT AND MAYBE EVEN TAX GAMBLING AND GAMING SITES. THIS WAY YOU KEEP THE MONEY HERE AND MAYBE EVEN ATTRACT MONEY FROM OTHER STATES. THIS WOULD ALLOW BETTER SCHOOLS, BETTER ROADS AND EVEN OPEN UP THOUSANDS OF JOBS. TELL ME WHERE THE HARM IS IN HELPING OUR STATE.

  3. Alabama has three casino’s and because it’s on a reservation supposedly it’s the same thing. Please let us play it takes more skill and it’s not a crime. They sell beer on Sundays so go figure. Messed many people’s hobby away!

    1. I Agree!! I’ve never put a lot into my fantasy football, $200 total and throughout two seasons on draft kings I have a positive balance($240) It’s fun/entertainment for me. Oh but can’t do that anymore no no no, it’s ok for me to go play freakin’ cash BINGO or go to a strip club and essentially pay women to take off their clothes but can’t play a weekly fantasy football game for $5 against four others for a chance at $20- NOPE that’s illegal!! As for the casinos being owned/operated by a native American “reservation” I don’t think there’s any truth to that. I know personally a family in north Alabama that owned a few businesses that had an essential monopoly on the market in which they conducted business. About 7 or 8 years ago their business took a financial hit when the field they were in exploded with competitors, decimating a once lucrative source of income About a year ago I saw a picture online of a friend of mine whose father is the patriarch of the aforementioned family at the helm of a multi million dollar private jet. Granted they’ve always been wealthy, but not private jet wealthy. I asked him if it was theirs and the response was yes. I then asked if business had picked up substantially to which he replied NO. I said, If you don’t mind me asking did you guy’s reinvent yourselves(meaning How did you afford a gulfstream jet?) He told me that they owned /ran a casino in Greene county……and TRUST ME they are not native American.

  4. So I CAN’T play fantasy football in Alabama……Because it’s “illegal”? But I can drive an hour and a half to Greene County Alabama and go to a DAM CASINO!!!! And THAT’S legal how? My father was in politics locally and at the state level and it sounds like someone isn’t donating the right amount of money to Luther Stranges’ campaign. This is crazy. why can’t I play FREE games on Draft kings and Fan duel?

  5. Luther, you need to withdraw your opinion, because it is wrong!! We should be able to make our choices on the Internet without state regulation. Why harm the entire state and its people by banning this game….because that is all it is ……a game!

    I will talk directly to my representative and Senator to reverse this decree. It is WRONG!

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