Michigan moves to ban pick’em fantasy contests despite public outcry
Legislative committee accepts new MGCB rules which were approved by default after no objections were made
Michigan’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) has accepted proposals to ban pick’em-style daily fantasy sports (DFS) contests, becoming the second state to do so in the space of a week following New York’s move to ban the vertical.
The changes were put forward by the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) in August and include a prohibition on so-called “proposition selection” style contests.
In this case, proposition selection means a fantasy contest player choosing whether an identified instance or statistical achievement will occur, will be achieved, or will be surpassed.
The rules state: “Unless otherwise approved by the board, a fantasy contest operator or licensed management company may not offer or allow any of the following:
“Proposition selection or fantasy contests that have the effect of mimicking proposition selection.
“Any fantasy contests that involve, result in, or have the effect of mimicking betting on sports,” the MGCB rules detail.
Under current legislative rules, the proposed changes were placed under consideration of JCAR, which had a 15-day window to hold meetings to discuss and potentially amend the rules.
However, the Coalition for Fantasy Sports (CFS), an advocacy group working on behalf of DFS operators PrizePicks, Sleeper, and Underdog Fantasy, confirmed in a release that no such meetings took place and as such the new proposals were accepted by default.
The CFS has been engaged in a support-gathering campaign on social media, signposting Michiganians to a one-page draft email addressed to legislators in the state’s capital, Lansing.
The email suggests the ban would mean an “unfair and immediate” end to the games, which are popular in the state.
The CFS has confirmed that 2,600 emails and more than 700 phone calls were made to authorities calling for the JCAR to veto the proposals, suggestions which went unheeded.
The now accepted rules will pass to the Michigan Secretary of State for final ratification before passage into law.
In a statement provided by the CFS, Michigan state Senator and supporter of the CFS, Republican Jim Runestad, attacked Michigan’s ruling Democratic Party over their indifference to the ban.
“For weeks we’ve heard from citizens in our home districts and across the state, demanding that we lead on this issue. Instead, chairman [Jim] Haadsma and his fellow JCAR Democrats chose to do nothing,” Runestad said.
“They ignored the voices of Michiganders, bent to the will of big donors and corporate interests, and clearly violated the intent of the original fantasy sports bill as well as the will of the people.
“Moving forward, I pledge to work with the Gaming Commission [MGCB] and other lawmakers to restore access to the legal fantasy sports games that have just been stripped away from Michiganders,” the Senator added.
Responding to the ban, the CFS pledged to continue the fight to protect the vertical.
“We will continue to work with regulators and policymakers to provide the innovative fantasy sports products customers want and love,” the coalition added in a statement.
As with the Michigan ban, New York’s rules ban any contest which has the effect of “mimicking” proposition betting. The rules were approved on Tuesday (October 3) despite objections from the CFS and its members.