Soon, the state of Kansas might have a law which explicitly make fantasy sports betting legal. Such a law likely would regulate daily and yearly fantasy sports in the state with policies few other states might have. The reason for such a decision by the legislature dates back to a policy set down by the gaming regulation agency of Kansas last summer.
In one of the dumbest moves of last summer, the Kansas Gaming Commission outlawed fantasy sports in their state. That’s a law certain to offend 1 in 8 people in the state. Also, the anti-fantasy sports law effectively turns 12% of the population of Kansas into criminals–for playing in fantasy football leagues.
Brett Hildabrand’s Bill
Now, a member of the State House of Representatives is calling for a law to circumvent the gaming commission’s ruling. State Representative Brett Hildabrand, a Republican from Shawnee, says he wants to rectify a gross oversight by the Gaming Commission.
When asked about the new law, Hildabrand said, “We don’t want to be making criminals out of the average citizen of Kansas.”
Gaming Commission’s Statement
The Gaming Commission, for its part, appeared to be completely blindsided by the uproar they caused. In a statement posted on the Kansas Gaming Commission website, the panel said, “The commission’s statement said, “no agency at the state or local level is ramping up efforts to go after (fantasy sports league) participants.”
It’s nice to know that the Gaming Commission doesn’t expect the state and local police to arrest fantasy football commissioners across the state. Of course, one has to wonder why someone writes a punitive law, if the only justification for having such a law is that it will never be enforced.
Making Everyday Citizens into Criminals
The summer 2014 ruling by the Kansas Gaming Commission seems entirely out-of-touch with the current mood in the country towards gambling in general and fantasy sports betting in specific. Certainly, not one of the commissioners seems to be a fantasy football owner. That’s a bit of a surprise, since 40 million Americans play fantasy sports each year–roughly 1/8th of the US population.
Given the vast majority of players are men, that suggests roughly 1 in 5 American males engage in fantasy sports of some sort. While plenty of Yahoo and ESPN leagues offer free play fantasy football, most of those team owners gamble on the sports. That’s why the US Congress created a carve-out for fantasy sports when it passed the 2006 UIGEA law.
Federal Policies: The UIGEA
Lotteries and horse racing were the other two forms of gaming which were given exemptions under the UIGEA, which effectively banned online casinos, poker sites, and sportsbooks in the United States. Both the lottery industry and the horse racing industry have old and powerful lobbies which protect their interests. The senators and representatives who passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act understood that 30 million Americans (at the time) were betting on fantasy sports, so they chose not to antagonize that huge segment of the US population–despite them having no lobbyists of any sort. No doubt, there were fantasy football team owners among the congressmen who passed the UIGEA.
Under the policy set down by the Kansas Gaming Commission, all forms of fantasy sports betting is illegal (at present) in Kansas. That includes local yearly fantasy football and Rotisserie baseball leagues, online daily fantasy sports contests, and one-day mobile fantasy sports betting. Though the state government has said it has no intention of enforcing the policy, it’s still on the books, so residents of Kansas should take note.