Iowa Lawmakers For Legalizing Play-For-Cash Fantasy Sports

Posted: Jan 29 2014, 2:42am CST | by , Updated: Jan 29 2014, 2:46am CST, in Technology News


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Iowa Lawmakers For Legalizing Play-For-Cash Fantasy Sports

Yesterday, the Des Moines Register reported a bipartisan effort among lawmakers to legalize fantasy sports within the state of Iowa. The goal is to bring Iowa state law in line with a majority of other states, in which playing in primarily skill-based fantasy sports contests is widely seen as legal.

The current legal doubt about operating play-for-cash fantasy sports contests in Iowa emerges from an 1880 Iowa Supreme Court decision, Miller v. State. There, the court explained that any play-for-cash contest violates Iowa state law, irrespective of whether the contest involves predominantly skill or chance.

The Iowa Supreme Court’s ruling in Miller has since been reinforced by a number of more recent Iowa state decisions. This is even though its view is at odds with state gambling law in many other jurisdictions.

Nevertheless, if the Iowa legislature passes a bill to expressly legalize fantasy sports, it would specifically override the Iowa Supreme Court’s interpretation of state gambling law with respect to America’s “new national pastime.

Incidentally, Iowa is not the first state to attempt to pass a statute expressly legalizing fantasy sports contests.

In 2012, the State of Maryland passed a similar statute to legalize fantasy sports. Almost immediately thereafter, many large fantasy sports host sites including Yahoo! and CBS changed their fantasy contest rules to permit Maryland residents into participate for prizes.

Legislative efforts to expressly legalize fantasy sports, however, have not uniformly succeeded. In Louisiana, Rep. Thomas Carmody of Louisiana proposed a bill back in 2010 to allow participants to play in online fantasy sports contests that involved both entry fees and prizes. That bill failed 73-16 — perhaps based on an unusual alliance between casino protectionists and the religious right.

Likewise, in Arizona it remains likely that the operation of a fantasy sports business constitutes a felony. Grassroots movements among small groups of Arizona citizens to change this law thus far have similarly proved unfruitful.

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Marc Edelman is an Associate Professor of Law at the City University of New York’s Baruch College, Zicklin School of Business, where he has published more than 25 law review articles on sports law matters, including “A Short Treatise on Fantasy Sports and the Law.” Nothing contained in this article should be construed as legal advice.

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Source: Forbes

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