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Hawaii AG declares daily sports fantasy sites illegal

[JURIST] Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin [official website] on Wednesday released an advisory opinion [press release] declaring that daily fantasy sports websites in which players pay to participate are considered gambling and are therefore illegal in the state. Chin noted the difference between friends playing in their own fantasy sports league and wagering significant amounts of money on online websites such as Draftkings and FanDuel [websites]. In regards to the law of Hawaii, Chin stated that "[g]ambling 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 attorney general's office in Hawaii believes that technology has progressed but the notion of gambling has not changed.

Gambling is heavily regulated federally and on the state level. Last week Texas Attorney General declared [JURIST report] daily fantasy sports websites illegal within the state. Earlier this month the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court [official website] granted [JURIST report] FanDuel and Draftkings a stay allowing them to continue to operate within the state during their appeal. In August the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] against New Jersey, deciding 2-1 to uphold [JURIST report] the federal ban on sports betting in all but four states. In December 2011 the US Department of Justice [official website] clarified its stance on online gambling [JURIST report] in a memorandum opinion holding online non-sports related gambling that crosses state or international borders is not covered by the Wire Act of 1961 [text,PDF].

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