Rhode Island attorney general: Daily fantasy sports legal

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Daily fantasy sports mix chance and skill and are legal under state law, the state’s attorney general said Thursday.

Attorney General Peter Kilmartin said he conducted a review and has forwarded the findings to fellow Democrats Gov. Gina Raimondo, Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed and House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello. Not long after Kilmartin released his findings, a lawmaker in the heavily Democratic General Assembly introduced legislation to license daily fantasy sports websites.

Daily fantasy sports participants put together virtual teams based on real players and compete for points based on the players’ statistics. Attorneys general in several states have found the games are illegal. But Kilmartin found Rhode Island law says otherwise.

Kilmartin explained that, in Rhode Island, the question depends on whether chance is a dominant factor in determining how prizes are distributed. He found that daily fantasy sports are a mixture of chance and skill and are therefore allowed. He also encouraged lawmakers to establish regulations.

“Despite daily fantasy sports being legal, I believe there should be strict regulations imposed on the operation of these sites to address the issues we have experienced with gambling in Rhode Island, including infiltration of the criminal element, youth participation and addiction issues,” he said.

Boston-based fantasy sports website DraftKings said it was pleased with the opinion and was working with Rhode Island legislators to enact “thoughtful and appropriate regulations that allow our fans to continue enjoying the contests they love.”

On Thursday evening, Democratic Rep. Raymond Gallison introduced legislation to allow state regulators to license online daily fantasy sports when they involve the exchange of money. The bill would require people involved in developing or managing the games to be licensed and pass criminal background checks. It also would prohibit advertising to children and penalize those who allow children to play.

“Someone needs to regulate the activities to ensure the fairness of all the contests offered and protect the participating Rhode Island consumers,” Gallison said.