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Maryland Senate President Thomas V. "Mike" Miller. (File Photo)

Miller washes hands on fantasy sports legislation

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. said the General Assembly and the fantasy sports industry need to resolve issues regarding the legality of the sites in Maryland but said he won’t be working on any bills on the issue.

Miller made his comments days after the Office of the Attorney General sent legislators a 22-page advisory letter which declared the sites commercial gaming. The letter went on to say that the sites were probably not contemplated in the 2012 law legalizing fantasy sports and while it doesn’t order the sites cease operation in the state it does say that voters through referendum must approve them.

“I don’t have a next step. It was exactly what I predicted. The law we passed in 2008 said the expansion of commercial gaming needs to go to referendum,” Miller said.

“I’m not going to offer any bills. It’s really up to what they (the industry) want to do,” Miller said.

Last month, Miller pre-empted a meeting of the Joint Committee on Gaming Oversight in order to request an advisory letter on the issue of fantasy sports sites such as FanDuel and DraftKings.

“The small, penny-ante games, people in a family pool around the fireplace or in an office pool, that’s covered by law we passed in 2012,” Miller said.” This large commercial enterprise is not legal.”

In an interview, Miller declared such sites illegal and said that a 2012 law legalizing fantasy football in Maryland, which he voted for, was also probably not legal because it was an expansion of gambling and required voter approval after the legislature moved gambling into the Maryland Constitution in 2008.

“What the attorney general pointed out was that the bill we passed in 2012 dealt with beer and Fritos gaming among family members was not large scale commercial gambling,” Miller said. “Either the operations need to shut down or a bill needs to be introduced clarifying what they’re doing in the state of Maryland is legal.”

“Somebody needs to take action,” Miller said. “I think it’s up to the industry to say ‘We’re going to clean up our act. We’re going to be legal and propose legislation to make that happen.'”

Miller declined to say if he believed the attorney general’s advisory letter meant that the sites should cease operations in the state until the legislature can address the legal issues.

“That’s between them and their legal counsel,” Miller said. “They got more money than any fortune 500 company.”

Miller called on legislators and the industry to work to address those concerns but said that somebody will not be him.

“I want either someone in the body here — the House or Senate — or somebody in the industry to say ‘This action needs to be taken.” I did my part by requesting the opinion. ”

 

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