Rep. Wagner: No contact yet from Draft Kings

Chicopee Democrat is a key lawmaker on gambling issues

Rep. Joseph Wagner (D-Chicopee)

BOSTON (State House News Service) – Draft Kings, a Boston-based daily fantasy sports business that has hoisted itself into the public’s attention, has not contacted one of the key Massachusetts lawmakers handling gambling matters.

“No one has approached me at this point,” Rep. Joe Wagner told the News Service on Thursday.

Wagner indicated the fantasy sports site that lures customers with the potential to win money could be an item of discussion between lawmakers and the Massachusetts Gaming Commission and said whether it would prompt any legislation is an open question.

“Stay tuned,” Wagner said.

A Chicopee Democrat, Wagner is House chairman of the Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies and one of the legislators who drafted the 2011 casino law.

Draft Kings appears to be seeking to ramp up its legislative efforts on Beacon Hill. This week, the company began advertising a job opening for a manager of government affairs based at its Boston office. The company’s ideal candidate is someone who holds a juris doctor, has worked for at least four years and has “strong relationships with key policy makers preferably in multiple states.”

The job description, which is accessible through the Draft Kings website, lists the position’s responsibilities as including “coordination and oversight of multi-state legislative effort,” and “overseeing grassroots efforts and implementing strategy to build grassroots presence.”

Accompanied by an advertising blitz, the Draft Kings business model has sparked legalistic and philosophical arguments about whether it is akin to sports betting, which is illegal in Massachusetts and most other states, or a legal activity with cash prizes for skilled players.

Attorney General Maura Healey said the company approached her office, which is learning more about the operation. Wagner said it is unclear whether legislation would be required.

“I don’t know that we would know that at this point. I think the attorney general in her remarks recently indicated that she’s going to try and get out front, and ahead of the issue. I think the dialogue, which is ongoing always between the Gaming Commission and the Legislature, albeit at arm’s length, is one that will give consideration to that issue,” Wagner said.

The ubiquity of Draft Kings’ ads could add a new dimension to any attempts to regulate the company, as the business is now a familiar entity to many.

The secretary of state’s online lobbyist registry lists Bay State Strategies Group – one of the state’s top grossing lobbying firms – as representing the Chicago-based Fantasy Sports Trade Association – and no lobbyists working specifically for Draft Kings.

Draft Kings is a member of the trade association and Draft Kings President Jason Robins sits on the association’s board of directors.

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