RI Lottery: Regulating fantasy sports without vote would be unconstitutional

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FILE – In this Oct. 25, 2015, 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. New York’s attorney general on Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015, ordered the daily fantasy sports companies DraftKings […]

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Rhode Island Lottery is now joining the legal debate over online fantasy sports, saying bills that would regulate the sites could prove to be unconstitutional.

Draft Kings and Fan Duel are online daily fantasy sports sites in which users pay an entry fee, make fictional teams of real professional athletes and depending on those players’ performances, win cash prizes.

The sites have grown so much in popularity that they dole out billions of dollars in prizes each year.

Earlier this year, RI Attorney General Peter Kilmartin ruled the sites legal in the state – but he suggested the state impose strict regulations.

Since then, several bills have been introduced in the General Assembly to regulate the sites, but the RI Lottery said those bills could step on the toes of residents.

In a letter sent to the House Finance Committee, the lottery pointed to three bills, in particular, saying any changes made without the consent of voters would be unconstitutional.

The lottery contends that the Rhode Island Constitution clearly states that any expansion of gambling must first be approved by a referendum – just like how voters have to approve new casinos.

In their letter, the lottery said daily fantasy sports fit into the legal definition of gambling in Rhode Island.

All three of the bills in question are currently being held for further study.

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