The Kansas Attorney General says fantasy sports leagues, as defined by a bill that proposes to legalize them in Kansas, are games of skill — not chance — and therefore not a violation of the state’s constitution.
Rep. Mark Kahrs, R-Wichita, had asked Attorney General Derek Schmidt’s opinion on a measure before the Legislature that defines the leagues as games of skill.
Schmidt issued his opinion Friday afternoon. It says the games are not lotteries because the skill and knowledge of the participants impact their success more than sheer luck, and their outcomes are determined predominately by the performance of real-world athletes completing in real sporting events.
The opinion also points out that under federal law, Congress has said fantasy sports leagues are games of skill, and that they are excluded from the federal definition of betting under the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which regulates online gambling.
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The proposed bill, which copies the federal definition of fantasy sports leagues, was brought before legislators in response to widespread media coverage last year of a statement on the Kansas Gaming and Racing Commission’s website that says fantasy leagues with cash buy-ins could be seen as illegal under the state’s gambling laws.
In fantasy sports leagues, like football and baseball, participants compete against one another by creating make-believe teams using real professional athletes. They are awarded points based on the real-life performances of the players in their “fantasy” lineups, with the leagues or websites often awarding cash prizes to the best “fantasy” teams. Many have a buy-in fee to play.
About 41 million people participate in fantasy sports leagues in the United States and Canada, according to the Chicago-based Fantasy Sports Trade Association, which lobbies on behalf of the industry.
Last year, Americans spent an average of $111 on league-related costs, according to association data cited in an Associated Press report.