The Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee has under its consideration a bill that would define fantasy sports contests as activities based on skill rather than pure luck and make them legal in Kansas.
The Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission now considers fantasy sports leagues illegal if they involve a buy-in fee and award cash prizes, as many do. The commission says fantasy sports meets the criteria of a lottery, which only the state can administer.
However, the commission has indicated it doesn’t plan to prosecute people who participate in fantasy sports.
That contradiction is sufficient to convince this newspaper to support the bill to classify fantasy sports leagues as a skill activity and make them legal in Kansas.
Rep. Brett Hildabrand, R-Shawnee, who introduced in the House the bill now under consideration by the Senate, said the state’s rules and laws should count for something, that they should be enforced or “should not be a policy to begin with.”
The Topeka Capital-Journal concurs, although the belief here is that winning a fantasy league contest requires a blend of skill and luck. Assembling a team requires knowledge of the athletes and the ability to put enough good ones together. Once assembled, however, the health of the team’s players throughout the season — a matter of luck — is a big factor.
That said, a lot of people in Kansas participate in fantasy sports leagues that are illegal under the law. There’s no reason to make them outlaws under rules that aren’t going to be enforced, and probably shouldn’t be enforced. Granting the fantasy sports leagues and the players legal status makes sense.
Fantasy sports leagues now are illegal in five states, four of those states — Kansas, Iowa, Montana and Washington — are considering legislation to make them legal.
According to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, almost 500,000 Kansans are among the almost 40 million Americans to play some form of fantasy sports. The trade association also reports players in the United States and Canada spent $1.7 billion on league fees in 2014.
Once a curiosity, fantasy sports leagues have become a wildly popular activity. The federal government and most states recognize fantasy sports as contests of skill. It’s time for Kansas to grant legal status to fantasy sports leagues.
Editorial: Grant Fantasy Sports Legal Status