Massachusetts finalizes comprehensive fantasy sports rules
BOSTON >> Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey issued rules Friday for daily fantasy sports operators that she called the most comprehensive in the nation, including a minimum age of 21 for participating in the online contests.
The final regulations are largely the same as the ones Healey, a Democrat, proposed in November. They also bar games based on college or amateur sports, and individual players could not spend more than $1,000 each month without proof they could withstand deep financial losses.
Operators such as Boston-based DraftKings and New York-based FanDuel will also be required under the rules to offer "beginner" contests that highly experienced players would be prevented from entering.
Healey, who said the regulations will create a "level, fair playing field" for participants, opted for a different approach to fantasy sports than counterparts in some states, notably New York, where Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has argued the sites amounted to illegal gambling.
Under an agreement reached earlier this week, DraftKings and FanDuel agreed to stop taking bets in New York while lawmakers consider whether to legalize the games.
The Massachusetts rules do not require legislative approval and will take effect July 1, though Healey said she expected companies to begin moving toward compliance immediately.
DraftKings said it would "fully comply" with the new regulations.
"We will continue to work with policymakers across the country to ensure that fantasy contests are fun and fair for the tens of millions of sports fans who enjoy playing them," CEO Tim Dent said in a statement.
FanDuel thanked Healey for taking a "deliberate, comprehensive approach" to fantasy sports. The company in its statement said it had concerns that some regulations might restrict "new pro-consumer innovations," but it would also work to be in full compliance.
During a hearing in January on the regulations, the operators objected to several provisions, notably the 21-year-old age restriction. Healey, who praised the companies for their cooperation during the rule-making process, defended the cutoff.
"Young people are very susceptible to addictive gaming, addictive play, and so it is all the more important that we take this action and make sure that play doesn't start until age 21," she told reporters Friday.
The final regulations, Healey added, were clarified to bar anyone under 21 from playing fantasy sports while physically in Massachusetts — a college student, for example, from another state where it would be legal to play at a younger age.
Operators that violate the rules could face civil penalties or even risk being shut down, Healey said.
The Fantasy Sports Trade Association, a Chicago-based organization that represents the fantasy sports industry in the U.S. and Canada, said the Massachusetts regulations offer important consumer protections and provide a strong framework for other states to follow.
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