Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin on Wednesday became the latest to issue a formal opinion that classifies daily fantasy sports as illegal gambling under state law. With this opinion, the Aloha State joins New York, Illinois, Texas, and Nevada in challenging the industry dominated by sites like FanDuel and DraftKings.
“Gambling 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,” Chin said in a statement. “The technology may have changed, but the vice has not.”
The statement differentiates daily fantasy-sports contests from “traditional fantasy leagues” or “social gambling,” which is legal in Hawaii, citing the huge number of people and amount of money at play in daily fantasy sports. The opinion comes at the request of state Senator Rosalyn Baker, and does not mean that fantasy sports betting in Hawaii will stop immediately. It opens the door for civil or criminal enforcement as has happened in other states, but the department of the attorney general is still deciding what step to take next.
As Matt Ford reported in October, daily fantasy-sports contests are considered games of skill under federal law, a classification that preserves the legality of FanDuel and DraftKings, but individual states can ban the sites. Fantasy-sports contests run as a business are currently illegal in Arizona, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, and Washington, again distinct from “social gambling” with a small group of friends for a small amount of money.