By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Tuesday. April 5, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange (R) announced that he has issued cease and desist letters to DraftKings and FanDuel ordering them to cease offering paid daily fantasy sports games in the state of Alabama.
Strange said, “As Attorney General, it is my duty to uphold Alabama law, including the laws against illegal gambling. 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.”
AG Strange said that he determined that fantasy sports will illegal under Alabama law after reviewing Alabama’s gambling statutes and determining that paid daily fantasy sports contests constitute illegal gambling. DraftKings and FanDuel have until May 1, 2016, to cease offering paid daily fantasy sports contests in Alabama.
State Senator Paul L. Sanford (R-Huntsville) said in a statement, “AG has just issued a Cease & Desist order to stop Fantasy Sports Games in AL, as gambling is illegal in our state. Sad day for sports fans in Alabama.”
According to the Attorney General’s office, paid daily fantasy sports contests, players create a “fantasy roster” of real-life athletes. Each athlete is awarded points based on his or her performance, and the “owners” of the teams with the highest scoring rosters win cash prizes.
The AG acknowledges that there is a measure of skill involved in creating a fantasy roster. But in the end, contestants have no control over the performance of the players on their rosters. For example, a player could fall ill before a game, be injured in pre-game warm-ups, or miss a large portion of the game due to injury or equipment failure. All of these factors, and many more, are outside the control of a fantasy sports player. Thus, the results of paid daily fantasy sports contests depend to a large degree on chance. This is the very definition of gambling under Alabama law.
Sen. Sanford has sponsored Senate Bill 114 that would legalize and regulate fantasy sports in Alabama.
The fantasy sports industry supports Sanford’s legislation as well as the House version, HB56.
The industry argue that fantasy sports are actually games of skill and are tremendously popular: “One thing is clear: fantasy sports are now mainstream. Just because Alabama doesn’t have a professional team doesn’t make it immune; 56.8 million North Americans now play fantasy sports in some form—and that covers every state including, most certainly, Alabama. Want an extra reason to root for Julio Jones? Fantasy football could be for you.”