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In this Oct. 25 photo, workers set up a DraftKings promotions tent in the parking lot of Gillette Stadium, in Foxborough, Mass., before an NFL football game between the New England Patriots and New York Jets. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

Md. Attorney General: Legislators need to clarify legality of daily fantasy sports leagues

Daily fantasy sports leagues in Maryland should have been placed on the ballot in 2012, and state legislators now need to clarify whether the popular sports betting sites are legal, according to an attorney general’s advisory letter.

The 22-page letter differentiates traditional fantasy sports — the so-called beer and Fritos leagues — from sites such as FanDuel and DraftKings. But the letter written by Assistant Attorney General Kathryn M. Rowe and Adam D. Snyder, chief counsel for opinions and advice, stops short of ordering the sites to cease operations in Maryland.

The Jan. 15 letter obtained by The Daily Record does determine that such sites are considered commercial gaming, and it said a 2012 law “to the extent it authorized daily fantasy sports, should have been referred to the electorate .”

At the same time, the assistant attorney generals wrote, whether a 2012 law actually authorized the sites is not clear. Rowe and Snyder say records on the legislation and testimony are vague. The attorneys write that because the “General Assembly did not focus on the regulation of daily fantasy sports in 2012, and could not realistically have considered daily fantasy sports as they exist today, we recommend that the Legislature squarely take up the issue this session and clarify whether daily fantasy sports are authorized in Maryland .”

The letter goes on to say that traditional fantasy sports leagues set up by friends and work colleagues are legal under the 2012 law and are not considered commercial gaming that would have to be approved by Maryland voters.

As many as 57 million people played in some sort of fantasy sports league, according to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association. About 100,000 people play some form of daily game, according to Fantasy Sports for All, an industry umbrella group that includes FanDuel and DraftKings and is leading an effort to keep the sites legal in Maryland.

It is not clear how many others participate in so-called social fantasy leagues in offices and with friends.

States such as Illinois, Massachusetts and most recently New York have declared the sites as gambling ventures or moved to set up regulatory oversight of those operations.