In August 2014, the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission issued an opinion that fantasy sports contests that require an entry fee to participate, and that pay out cash prizes, constitute illegal lotteries under Kansas State law. Based on that Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission opinion, many high profile pay-to-play fantasy sports venues began blocking residents of the State of Kansas.
Kansas State Representative Brett Hildabrand has introduced a bill to directly address the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission guidance by designating fantasy sports as a game of skill and thus exempting such contests from Kansas State anti-gambling and lottery laws.
Kansas Fantasy Sports Legislation: Not Just In Kansas Anymore
The bill introduced by Rep. Hildabrand follows closely on the heels of efforts in a handful of other states seeking to address similar prohibitions on fantasy sports contests. In particular, lawmakers in Indiana, Iowa, Montanaand Washington have already introduced bills that would legalize fantasy sports in their respective jurisdictions.
Like the bills in those states, the Kansas bill leans heavily on the federal law exemption established by the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (“UIGEA”) by designating fantasy sports as a game of “skill” rather than “chance.” In an encouraging development, Rep. Hildabrand’s bill received no opposition yesterday during hearings before the Kansas House Federal and State Affairs Committee.
Rock Chalk the Vote?
As mentioned above, the lack of opposition during the Federal and State Affairs Committee hearing was a positive sign for those advocating for the legalization of fantasy sports in Kansas. Further, the Kansas bill (which received support from the Fantasy Sports Trade Association) represents a definitive trend in state legislatures seeking to overturn fantasy sports prohibitions, and has been introduced at a time of unprecedented buy-in. Given these factors, and despite the work that remains to be done in connection with a legislative process that has only just begun, there is cause for optimism for residents in Kansas that wish to participate in fantasy sports contests in full compliance with the law.
The evolution of state law applicable to fantasy sports remains a significant topic for all gaming attorneys, fantasy sports lawyers and those interested in fantasy sports law in general. If 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.